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Under Lock & Key

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[Gender] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 52]
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Why Won't Wimmin Fight for their Rights?

Half the Sky

I see MIM is going to do a wimmin's issue. I really don't know what can get women interested and have some courage to do anything other than complain. Women seem to think if they smile, be happy, flip their hair and talk with a baby voice it will get them things. Even though we keep getting things taken from us, women will not speak up and stand up.

I read in Prison Action News (by ABC) about a work stoppage they are trying to encourage in September 2016. But all the responses I get from women is they will not participate, they are scared of being locked down, retaliation, blah, blah, blah.

Here is what I am currently going through with the grievance process concerning outdoor yard time: Lieutenant Gayle Ross posted a Posted Operational Rule (POR) changing small yard time. First of all, it was not signed until 1 June 2016, but supposedly went into effect a month before posting on 1 May 2016. PORs must give prisoners a two week notice before a change goes into effect.

Female prisoners are no longer allowed to go out to the small yard at the same time as dog program participants, with/without their dogs, for fear that we may get hurt. Even though dog program participants and their dogs are not separated in the units with non-dog program prisoners. Apparently it's only a safety/security issue for use of the small yard.

Next, Lt. Gayle Ross has spread her safety/security issue to other areas. Apparently wimmin prisoners are too fragile to go outside when it is wet out, puddles on the ground or snow on the ground. Supposedly we are childish and will jump in puddles, and too fragile so we might fall. This reasoning has allowed us to be denied small yard for entire seasons: fall heading into winter, winter, and most of spring, which by definition is rainy. Even though recreation can clear off puddles by sweeping off the water, the recreation staff lets the water sit until it dries naturally, of course closing the small yard for days. Apparently wimmin are dangerous enough to imprison but too fragile to go outside.

There are three steps to our grievance process. I have grieved all the way to a step three, therefore exhausting the grievance process. I am the only one grieving. Women complain, complain, complain but do nothing else. So I am preparing a 1983 [lawsuit].

I have used the grievance petition from MIM(Prisons). None of my three grievances were provided timely responses according to Colorado's AR 850-04 time limit for Step 1, 2 and 3 grievances. I sent this petition to Rick Raemisch, executive director of Colorado Department of Corrections, the United States Department of Justice and the Office of Inspector General. The United States Department of Justice basically said they only considered class action cases. Due to the letter to Rick Raemisch, Captain Bowers met with me and Lt. Gayle Ross about the issue. The situation has not changed for the better.

Now more gym time and small yard time has been taken away. If we don't attend a specific aerobic program called Insanity/cize (which is a videotape), we cannot use the rest of the gym or small yard. We cannot use the other exercise equipment or do our own workout program. We must only workout to the DVD (unless we are ADA). Women are complaining but they are doing nothing else.

I am still working on my case with the help of reading material like Battling the Administration by David Meister and Prisoners' Self-Help Litigation Manual by Daniel Manville, that I bought from Prison Legal News.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises some important questions about how females are taught to act in order to get ahead in patriarchal society. The idea that flipping hair, smiling and talking with a baby voice will get stuff for wimmin has been reinforced with very real financial and social incentives based on looks and gendered behavior. While society teaches males that being aggressive and self-sufficient is sexy and also the right way to get ahead at work, that same system teaches females that aggressiveness is unattractive and it's best to be weak and dependent on a man.

We can even see this double standard in the way people talk about Hillary Clinton's Presidential candidacy. She's just another imperialist mouthpiece, but she has won the wrath of so many for things that are seen as normal or even praised in male candidates. When Clinton is loud she is called out for "shouting" or "shrieking", while male candidates are praised for their strength for a similar style. Critics are calling Clinton a bitch and a lesbian. When she shows emotion she is too feminine and when she doesn't show emotion she is too masculine. There are endless examples of this sort of attention paid to Clinton's gender rather than her qualifications.

There are many strong wimmin standing up for their rights and the rights of others, like this comrade. And we need to train other wimmin that being strong and self-sufficient is the only way to really get ahead and really win battles. Many men in prison also sit around complaining without doing anything, but it is leaders like this writer who, over time, can develop other activists by setting an example of strength and resolve in practice, combined with a correct political line.

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[Education] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 52]
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Building Peace and Unity in Colorado

Every day we study the 5 principles, but we lack materials which is one of the reasons I'm writing, in hopes of getting what we need. As of now we are a very young group of men who have come together and are spreading peace, unity and internationalism. Here in prison we have brought two rival gangs to peace: the Sur 13 and Norteños 14 have now made a treaty with each other and have stopped killing each other. We are now speaking with some of the Muslims who may be willing to join "Black Hawk" so we are practicing growth and peace.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer provides an excellent example of building peace through a United Front organization that focuses on education. Rival organizations that fight each other behind bars or on the streets are serving the purposes of the oppressive system which seeks to keep us distracted and fighting each other rather than focusing our energy on the real oppressors. With this peace treaty we anticipate a growing powerful movement in Colorado against the criminal injustice system.

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[Control Units] [Hunger Strike] [Columbia Correctional Institution] [Wisconsin]
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Wisconsin Hunger Strikers Standing Strong in Face of Force Feeding

I write you to yall to thank you for your letters of support on our” ”hunger strike” to protest long term “solidarity confinement”. Thank you!

I’m still on strike but now I’m being force fed. This is (ex)tremely humiliating, painful, and unnecessary... But it is what it is. I’ll continue to refuse food and water until they place a one year cap on the use of Administrative Confinement….under this status the D.O.C. can currently keep you in solitary confinement indefinitely.


MIM(Prisons) responds: MIM(Prisons) responds: Read this article for a more detailed update on the Wisconsin prisoners' hunger strike to fight long term isolation and other abuse.

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[Education] [Political Repression]
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The Adaptation of Capitalistic Controls

"The educational and professional training systems are very elaborate filters."

This statement comes from the book titled, Understanding Power: The indispensable Chomsky, by Noam Chomsky. In chapter four, he discusses the safeguards and controls put in place by and to protect the capitalist system. His analysis is apt: control and manipulation began with the educational institutions.

In the United States those who control the information are those who hold power. Which is why the U.S. government is the largest and most efficient collector and disseminator of information. More importantly it is the most effective filtration system of information. Why is that? It is elementary, as Sherlock Holmes would say. If your opponent (read the proletariat) lacks the knowledge (read information and education), then your opponent is unable to employ it to your disadvantage. When I say 'your opponent' I mean the opponent of the u.s. government and capitalism.

This is accomplished through 1) popular control and, 2) the media effective popular control isolates citizens and dissidents. When a person is isolated, it is a simple matter to control their reality and manipulate their actions to conform to your specific aims and objectives. On the other hand is the media. The media does much more than simply providing an outlet for the dissemination of information. It helps to, and actually is a main tool for, indoctrination and marginalization. Or the subjection-manipulation cycle as I have termed it, is continued in perpetuity. The formation of this specific control ('control', meaning measures and policies used to prevent substantive changes to and for the preservation of a system) is meant to create a sheepish or gullible populace. One easily manipulated and maneuvered.

In public life, the effectiveness of this control lies in the fact that, those who aren't indoctrinated, or, at least, able to behave as if they are, soon learn that they have no voice, no vote and lack the consideration of others. Even find that they may be shunned (socially ostracized) as if they had a contagious, fatal disease. The un-indoctrinated are thus isolated and made 'seemingly' impotent. This system has been adopted by the u.s. prison system and is strictly adhered to.

The subjection-manipulation cycle has been adapted to and by prisons because it provides a reliable and justifiable method of repressing subversive, disruptive, or 'negative' attitudes, behaviors and/or activities. Prisons present a sampling of society's range of individuals. Some prisoners become well-indoctrinated and follow prisons' policies and regulations. Other less indoctrinated follow some or most. And finally those who are self-determinants (prisoners who refuse to relinquish their freedom to determine their actions and conduct). It is these last that suffer the reprisals of the subjection-manipulation cycle.

Self-determinants are generally punished. While their counterparts, what I termed subjugated, they are rewarded. The reward/reprisal structure is even clearer in the prison adaptation of the subjection-manipulation cycle. As in public life, where dissidence earns social stigmatization. In prison, self-determinants are shunned and given a wide berth. In this way the system filters the population, in order to isolate self-determinants. Holding them up as examples of unacceptable behavior to the subjugated. Punishment in public is normally being unemployable, negative to one's status in society, or being labeled a liability. This ends with a dissident's social ostracization and impotency. The parallel found in prisons is self-determinants are housed in segregation, isolation units, their privileges curbed or stripped completely. Their associates treated harshly or harassed for continuing any association with the self-determinant. The picture is clear as in public, in prison the self-determinant is isolated, repressed in the hopes that they will become impotent.

The subjection - manipulation cycle is not only a system of rewards and reprisals. It also contains the essential element: information control. Prison authorities screen, examine and filter the information made available to prisoners. This is paralleled in the U.S. schooling system and structure. The only information allowed is that which concurs with the system agenda. By promoting, or discouraging (if not prohibiting), certain information the prisons, as schools in public life, can encourage and manipulate modes of thought and revolutionary, anti-imperialist, or anti-capitalist movement. Why else have overly complicated grievance procedures create obstacles and have banned/prohibited literature lists? Education leads to organization.

The goal is to create an unbearable reality for self-determinants. With the intention of creating a subjugated instead of self-determinant, through the psychological effects of isolation and ostracization As long as prisons can reinforce this cycle, the results will mirror those found in public life. Stigmatized, isolated and labeled an outcast among outcasts, society's outcasts. This is a particularly dire forecast for self-determinants. It presents a massive obstacle, but not insurmountable. The solution begins with knowledge, followed by discipline and unity.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer offers some astute commentary on the role of information, education and media in social control under imperialism. And this underscores the importance of independent media of the oppressed as well as independent institutions for organizing and educating revolutionaries. The "self-determinants" as this author calls them, are people willing to think for themselves and perhaps take up organizing in the interests of the world's oppressed. These anti-imperialists need an organization to support them in the face of the challenges outlined by this author. This is why, behind bars, it is important to build United Struggle from Within, as a structure that can unify and support our prison comrades. Ultimately the independent media of the oppressed, along with our independent organizations, will unite those willing to think for themselves into a revolutionary force that can challenge the imperialist structures and fight for a future where self-determination is not repressed.

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[Control Units] [Hunger Strike] [Medical Care] [Southern Ohio Correctional Facility] [Ohio]
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SOCF Prisoners on Hunger Strike

Dear Under Lock & Key (Newspaper):

I am contacting you to make you aware of my "Hunger Strike," and my demands and to ring the alarm about the oppressive administration here and to make sure my strike is "Documented."

Being falsely incarcerated since the age of sixteen years old for a crime I didn’t commit, sentenced to 100 plus years, and fighting for my liberation has been no easy task against this racist regime here at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lukkkasville, Ohio.

At this time due to the continuous oppressive and outright abusive behavior of the administration, and harsh penalties for basic rule infractions, they have forced me to protest for change. This is my only means to protest nonviolently and peacefully to change the conditions and practices of this administration by laying my life on the line and going on a "Hunger Strike." I am only one voice and my sacrifice will be in vain without your support and the Power of the People. I'm nothing so I enlist your support and assistance to bring attention to this struggle and compel the power that be, to change and meet the hunger strike demands.

I will need for you and the people to make calls to Central Office 614-387-0588, so that my Hunger Strike is documented and changes are made.

To the world you are just one person, but to one person you may be the world. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter and pray all is favorable to all concerned. I exit in revolutionary spirit. Shields up!

Hunger Strike Demands

1) A complete end of denying prisoners the right to basic hygiene necessities or property (soap, toothpaste & deodorant) which is required while in the hole [solitary confinement].

2) A complete end of denying prisoners the legal right to have access to their pending legal work to litigate the case while in the hole, and the immediate end with tampering with prisoners' incoming and outgoing mail.

3) A complete and immediate end to the recent arbitrary practice of handing down excessive and severe penalties for drug violations, and termination of visiting privileges when the Rule Infraction Board (RIB) have already handed down a penalty for Rule 39 and Rule 40. A 3-year non-contact visit from family and the outside world is unheard of for violation of Rule 39 & Rule 40, and extremely inappropriate and not healthy and destroys any possible chance to be rehabilitated to re-enter society. For this reason, favorable consideration shall be given and the penalty for violations for Rule 39 and Rule 40 shall be reduced to a reasonable amount of time that will not undermine the violation of the offense.

4) An immediate stop of violence against prisoners when cuffed, and stop the excessive use of force and spraying of prisoners with O.C. spray which causes severe health problems. Also, stop the embellishment of violation of Rule 4, to justify the physical assault of prisoners while cuffed. This prison has a very ugly history of "Excessive Use of Force" and this abuse must stop.

These are the more important things that we expect to accomplish as a result of this "Hunger Strike." There are other issues, some more important, others less.

As of 10 July 2016, there's a total of 3 that's on hunger strike.


MIM(Prisons) responds: In another article reporting on this hunger strike, there were 20 people participating as of July 18. This comrade rightly frames the hunger strike as the last possible nonviolent option. When officials do not respond to a hunger strike, they are saying that they'd rather have a violent uprising than meet the demand to stop torturing prisoners.

A public campaign such as a hunger strike is good to build organizing around a need: in this case, an end to solitary confinement, and adequate care for prisoners. In order to fight for an end to all conditions of torture and unnecessary suffering, our education needs to connect the hunger strike to a larger battle for justice worldwide, in other words, an end to imperialism.

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[Spanish] [Abuse]
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Las Prisiones Privadas Expuestas, Misma a las Públicas

Recientemente, una revelación de la prisión privada ‘Winn Correctional Center’ (el Sistema Penitenciario de Winn) en Winnfield, Luisiana, que esta manejada por ‘Corrections Corporation of America’ (la Corporación Correccional de América - CCA) fue publicada en ‘Mother Jones’ (1); una organización de noticias. El artículo explica las condiciones inhumanas y las atrocidades conectadas con los fines de lucro de la CCA.

En la sección sobre la sala de correo, el autor Shane Bauer menciona Under Lock & Key (ULK):

“Deben estar atentos de ciertas cosas, por eso hay boletines puestos por toda la sala de correo, por ejemplo: un boletín informativo de una organización antiimperialista llamado Under Lock & Key (ULK), una edición de Forbes que incluye un enrutador inalámbrico en miniatura para el internet, un CD grabado por Chicano, un rapero gánster, que tiene una canción llamada ‘Death on a CO’ (Muerte en un CO).” Curiosamente, los empleados en la sala de correo de Winn, consideran la educación política tan peligrosa al ambiente de la prisión así como a electrónicos y las amenazas de muerte. Esta obvia censura no es única a esta prisión y tampoco es única a las prisiones privadas. Hay muchas cárceles estatales por todo el país donde sabemos que nuestro correo esta censurado en una manera similar. Desafortunadamente, no tenemos una periodista de investigación dentro de las cárceles y como solo podemos comunicarnos con nuestros camaradas por correo, no hay ninguna manera de combatir esta censura o exponerla. Siempre publicamos incidentes de censura en nuestra página web, pero en realidad, nunca sabremos lo que ocurre con aproximadamente dos tercios del correo que mandamos.

Al leer la revelación, uno podrá creer que esta prisión privada es diferente a las cárceles estatales. Esto es uno de los aspectos negativos más graves de este artículo, porque los lectores se quedan pensando que las prisiones estatales son intrínsecamente mejores. Sin embargo, todavía publicamos muchos artículos de nuestros correspondientes que están dentro de las cárceles que muestran que las prisiones estatales pueden ser tan malas así como ‘Winn Correctional Center’ (el Sistema Penitenciario de Winn); uno ejemplos incluyen: la falta de asistencia médica adecuada que resulta en problemas de salud a largo plazo, la falta de cursos, el confinamiento arbitrario de los prisioneros a sus celdas, el uso de la fuerza en exceso, la falta de discreción en la contratación de empleados, y la lista continúa.

Luchar contra las prisiones privadas es decir que las prisiones estatales son aceptables. Es algo que legitimiza el gobierno de los Estado Unidos (EE UU) como un árbitro imparcial e indica que la prisión no es algo perjudicial, pero si no, es solo la titularidad privada que es mala. Sin embargo, ‘The Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons’ (El Ministerio Internacional Maoísta de Prisiones – MIM Prisons) ve que la lucha de la prisión en los EE UU es una lucha en contra del control social – sin importar si es privada o estatal.

Damos las gracias a Shane Bauer por escribir este artículo tan espantoso que ayuda a nuestra lucha contra las condiciones inhumanas en las prisiones. Debemos tener una visión más amplia de cómo las cárceles estatales están relacionadas a este tema. E incluso, como el movimiento de la reforma penitenciaria está conectada con la lucha por la autodeterminación de las semi-colonias internas y con la liberación del Tercer Mundo del control total del imperialismo. Sin duda, el encarcelamiento para sacar provecho debe ser abolido. Pero este fenómeno solo podía ocurrir en una economía capitalista. Si no esta atrocidad del capitalismo, habrá otra, y por supuesto hay otras. Si nuestra lucha está restringida simplemente a la abolición de la titularidad de las prisiones, hubiéramos malgastado mucho tiempo y energía que podría haber sido usado en una lucha mucho más grande.

1. Shane Bauer, “My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard,” Mother Jones, julio/agosto 2016
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[United Front] [Organizing] [California State Prison, Sacramento] [California] [ULK Issue 52]
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Approaching Conflict More Scientifically

For our Agreement to End Hostilities we reach out to all colors, all genders, all ethnicities. In this struggle, if we can satisfy the interests of the other parties while meeting our own, that is best. Yet a blind following of fixed views of one's identity can undermine any assurance that either party will honor an agreement. It's hard, but we must learn to understand how to see our thoughts with thinking. Identity can prove more a liability than an asset if we drive with our eyes closed.

Strategies to Address Conflict

Internationalism is Needed to End Hostility

We must liberate the oppressed from identity politics first. We may be unaware of the political landscape, which leaves us vulnerable to being exploited. A leader may impose a narrative on us, and create feelings of division between us and others. Second we may cling to a negative identity, defining who we are as against the other side and rejecting anything they propose. In an extreme situation, we lose all semblance of our own identity, identifying ourselves only in terms of opposition to the other side. Third, we may feel excluded from the decision-making process, further dividing us from others. Finally, we may feel like a pawn trapped within an unfair political system.

Strategies to address conflict

Currently at New Folsom, staff are creating divisions leading to dangerous situations. When they read letters agreeing to help us, they may withhold this mail, or give it to another prisoner whom they believe will help them carry out their own personal perverted agenda. These inmates are called snitches, liars or PSU/SHU collaborators who speak against human rights. These inmates are encouraged to write to our families, women and supporters with the intent to disconnect them from us. These actions create very dangerous situations, creating the desire to punish these men for working with the administration. These games are being played throughout the state of California, targeting prisoners who have taken conscious steps to resist being casualties of this low intensity psychological warfare. Warfare that is rarely seen or recognized by the everyday citizen. We must find ways to monitor our incoming and outgoing mail. If we ever want to truly stand for the UFPP principle of Independence, we must have resources independent of the enemy.

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[Organizing] [Education] [ULK Issue 52]
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USW Study Group Poppin Off

USW Study Group

I am delighted to enlighten you regrading our new study group/think tank, based upon the ideas/ideals of information contained in recent and past Under Lock & Key. In July 2016, we held our first study group member meeting, with some supporters. We met for over an hour, with 29 people in attendance and 18 committed members.

We deputized four positions of responsibility: 2 moderators, and 2 curators. We plan to conduct smaller study groups in individual pods, with direct dialogue from and with the larger weekly group meetings.

Our first meeting dealt with (1) Revolutionary Consciousness, (2) Revolutionary Activism, and (3) Accepting Accountability and Responsibility — in conjunction with the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles on page 3 of ULK 50: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, and Independence.

We will need study materials to continue to move the study group. We are young, new and eager to be a part. We are entertained by what appeals to our conditions — as it relates to Maoist and Under Lock & Key principles. Our prison suffers from gangs, disunity amongst offenders/captives, and a gross lack of understanding of revolutionary ideas/ideals.

The questions we discussed at our first meeting were:
1) What is revolutionary consciousness?
2) What is revolutionary activism?
3) What does "accountability" and "responsibility" mean to you?
4) What can you, and will you, contribute to the ideas of: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, & Independence?

The hard work will be keeping the young guys inspired, motivated, and focused on getting and achieving our goals (as we set them). We will need as much and as often materials (and possibly books). We will continue to send stamps as often as we can to cover materials. We have good writers of articles, poems, etc. which we will send.

I have enclosed a list of named members - verbal committals - who wish to receive a subscription of Under Lock & Key. I have also enclosed their state number and prison's address. Please sign these Brothers up!

If you have any back issues of Under Lock & Key, articles on uniting gangs, revolutionary understanding, or any fundamental ideas to help our young study group, please send them. We will send an updated report bimonthly detailing our weekly meetings, topics, etc. Please support us, as we are new to this, and young. Be sure to know, we are with you in whatever way we can help with larger goals of MIM, and our local goals - we are with it!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We print this report to encourage other readers with the example of our comrades in Virginia. You can focus on topics that interest your group and we will try to supply reading material and study questions. Most study groups start by talking about questions like this comrade describes (such as, "What is revolutionary activism?") or even more basic topics. And this leads to more questions and greater consciousness. People who wonder why so many are locked behind bars are just a few steps away from wondering why Amerika attacks so many other countries, and why people within U.$. borders are so much wealthier than the majority of the world's citizens.

By building through education we can set up solid core of cadres who can apply what they've learned to analyze conditions and lead political organizing with correct political line and strategy.

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[Campaigns] [Hunger Strike] [Control Units] [Southern Ohio Correctional Facility] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 52]
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Lucasville Hunger Strike to End Solitary Confinement

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Revolutionary greetings!

We write to further enlighten you on the progress of our hunger strike at the Southern Ohio Corrections Facility in the state of Ohio. Since you were last informed, other comrades have joined our cause to end solitary confinement and psychological torture in prisons all across america.

We now have a total of about 30 prisoners who are currently refusing meals. Some of us are being denied medical assistance. Correctional officers have already sabotaged some hunger strikers, by planting food in their cells.

The strike began on 5 July 2016, and staff are refusing to document the strike. Prison officials claim they don't care about our strike. If this is true, then why does the prison administration resort to such extreme tactics to discourage us?

A hunger strike is more than just refusing food. But the spiritual power generated by our unified thoughts will manifest change. We enclose a list of demands, along with a notification to the public to please contact the Governor of Ohio and the media to inform that hunger strikers are being denied medical assistance. We greatly appreciate your integrity and will keep you updated.

List of Hunger Strike Demands

  1. We of the inmates of Ohio ask for an end to solitary confinement and torture of inmates.
  2. We ask for the end of the practice of systematic racism.
  3. We demand for the end of unfair Rules Infraction Board hearings, which results in a denial of due process.
  4. We demand an end to officer brutality, including the assault with chemical agents.

We ask for your support by contacting the Governor of Ohio:
77 South High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
or ohio.governor.gov

Inform them that hunger strikers are being denied medical assistance.

Salute!

Comrades

Lucasville Hunger Strike


MIM(Prisons) responds: We applaud the organization and commitment of these comrades in Ohio who are risking their lives to fight torture at SOCF. We have received a couple reports on this hunger strike.

We agree that a hunger strike is more than just refusing food, and as another comrade puts it, it becomes the only nonviolent option left to protest how you're being treated.

Rather than generating "spiritual power," though, hunger strikes can develop real world education and organizing. As more people see the struggle and are educated about it they learn from the strike and we gain supporters. How well we build this education and organizing depends a lot on a careful evaluation of local conditions so our time and energy and health is well spent. For instance, undertaking a hunger strike with only a few people without outside support or a way of publicizing it will most likely lead to not only a failed action but also will show others that this battle can't be won. It's always important to build for our actions so that we have the support and systems in place to make victory possible. Lucasville has a long history of prisoners going on hunger strike for basic necessities, and a broad outside support system has been shown to be one of the factors that make these protests successful.

So we call on outside supporters to take the actions listed above and publicize this hunger strike through their networks. Through organizing together we can abolish the SHU!

We also want to comment on the demand for an end to "systematic racism" which we would call systematic national oppression. This is a function of the criminal injustice system, by design. As a tool of social control, the Amerikan prisons are set up to target the oppressed nations. And so we cannot expect to eliminate this feature of the system without overthrowing the entire system. Demands like this one are just and righteous, but not winnable until capitalism is defeated.

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[Censorship] [River North Correctional Center] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 52]
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Bombard them with Paperwork: Fighting Censorship in Virginia

I am writing to bring you up to date on my litigation against the Commonwealth of Virginia related to the unlawful censorship of ULK and other literature. I am preparing to file my second tort action against the Commonwealth for the rejection of ULK 48. This will make the second claim I've filed in response to rejections of MIM literature.

I've chosen the state tort route due to the higher chance of success and because the 4th circuit is notorious for siding with the state in such matters. Further, eventually the risk management will get tired of seeing claims of the same nature with the same plaintiffs and defendants, and while it may take time, I believe if enough comrades use the same tactic the issue will be resolved. Prior to incarceration I was the IT Department manager at a card payment company. When I got a dozen emails complaining about a website being blocked in the office I often just removed the block since it was easier than being hassled all the time. I'm hoping risk management responds likewise.

It may be helpful to share my tactic of "bombard the bastards with paperwork" with others. Strength in numbers, you know. In Virginia, a notice of claim is free to file and requires little to no legal skill - just fill out the form, state the relevant facts, include supporting documentation and mail it to Richmond.

During the six month response period comrades will have time to develop their notice of claim into a finely crafted petition to file in court in the event risk management doesn't reply or doesn't provide relief. A tort action is also much cheaper than a 1983 suit since the cost is based on the value of the action, and if the relief sought is simply the delivery of the publication and that the prison get in compliance with the constitution, and so long as there is no security threat in the publication, chances are there will be a positive outcome. That's my goal anyway. Nobody wants to get sued six times a year and nobody wants to get sued six times a year by a hundred people over the same matter. In my tort claims I am naming the Warden, Publication Review Committee and the mailroom as defendants. I'm asking only that the publications be permitted, that the review process be in compliance with relevant statutes and case law, and that this be applied to all MIM publications. I am not asking for money damages simply because it's a free publication; nor am I claiming any mental anguish or emotional distress, besides, who would believe that a bunch of "commies" would get all emotionally scarred because their newsletter was rejected?

Hopefully it helps. I feel that as revolutionaries we must use every tool available against imperialism, and the tort claim is one of those tools.

Step-by-Step Tort Claim

  1. Save all relevant documentation related to the rejection of the publication. Make copies!
  2. Complete the entire grievance process. If you get no reply within two weeks send a request form to the mailroom to ask why.
  3. Request further details about why the publication was rejected such as page number, any specific articles and the like. Try to get more information from the publisher if you can, such as their side of the story about what the alleged offensive material is, where else the publication has been delivered or similar.
  4. Upon exhaustion of your administrative remedy, draft your notice of claim. This is not your petition to file in court, it is only a statement of facts and a request for relief. State only the relevant facts, why the rejection is unfounded and include any supporting evidence. Do not lace your claim with opinions or try to claim the Warden is out to get you. (Unless you have evidence he is!)
  5. As you write your claim, when you reference a documented fact make a note of where to find that fact. Mark each documented fact with some way to easily identify it. Ex: "On July 3 the Warden replied to my request for more information. He told me to go f*ck myself. (See Exhibit 4, Paragraph 3, Line 'A')"
  6. Notarize and copy your notice of claim. Make a copy to send to risk management, the commonwealth attorney and as a bonus to each defendant. Include your claim and all supporting documents. You keep the original.
  7. Begin crafting your Notice of Claim into a well-written petition to present to the court in the event you don't get any relief. If after six months you haven't gotten any relief take it to court!

    This has worked for me several times without having to go to court. It can work for you too!

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