The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Postage is one of our biggest expenses. Why not send a book of stamps or two to POB 40799 SF, CA 94140 next time you're at the post office? help out
[Control Units] [Organizing] [United Front] [Calipatria State Prison] [California]
expand

Segregation is Torture, Unite to Fight Common Enemies

I've been relocated to Ad-Seg which is, of course, the hole. Life in here is as bad as it's ever been. It's been a while since last I was in Ad-Seg and the sad reality is that not too much has changed. A lot has gotten worse. We're kept in our cells for twenty four hours a day. We're given "yard," that is in 10 feet by 10 feet cages which are known as dog kennels, every third day for two hours. It fluctuates but that's pretty much the program. We're given showers every third day as well.

The worst part about being locked in confinement is the overwhelming oppression. The lack of sunlight and movement really does a number on one's mental state. Which is why they monitor us so closely here. We're counted every half hour and they have a crew of psych doctors constantly making circuits around the tiers. From what I understand the suicide rate is pretty high here. So they keep a close eye on us. I've been locked up back here since early May and I'll be here until later this month (June) or early next month. The sad part is that even though I'll be getting out there are a lot of brothers back here who won't be getting released for a long time. A lot of them are youngsters too.

It makes me feel so bad seeing all of these good young brothers in here sacrificing themselves for no reason. The LO violence here at Calipatria is back in full swing. There was a riot recently between the Mexican/Chicanos and the Blacks. The foolishness here in Cali continues. It's time we wake up and get our shit together and stop fighting against each other and start working with each other. Only then can we make progress. The sad truth in Cali is that racial divisions are deeply embedded in us. It's been this way since the eighties and who knows when we'll overcome it. But overcome it we must. So I call on all those LOs with any influence to reexamine the big picture. We are all in the same boat and it's in all our best interest to unite. As the saying goes united we stand divided we fall.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade reminds us why we have a campaign to shut down prison control units. Short term isolation is enough to dramatically harm people's mental and physical health, and in the United $tates prison system many prisoners are locked up for years in isolation units like this prisoner's describes. The call for unity is well placed as we agree with this comrade that oppressed groups coming together is the best chance to fight against the oppressor. This principle of unity is particularly important to the United Front for Peace in Prisons. We encourage all our readers to organize for unity and peace for the September 9 solidarity demonstration this year, when our peaceful unity and protest can be a starting point for future united actions and peace agreements among organizations and individuals.

chain
[Control Units] [United Front] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 39]
expand

Colorado Organization Builds for Peace, Activists Locked up in Segregation

I am chairman of New Aztlan - the Young Brown Berets which works to promote the 5 principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. We are an anti-imperialist group which focuses upon militancy and revolutionary doctrine; our main audience is Chicanos and Native Americans, united in struggle to expose racist agendas in the injustice system. The term Young applies to those in our group who range from 18-30. We attract a lot of non-gang members and de-active members alike. We stand in the pursuit of self-determination, bridging the gap of racism and uniting all people for the cause of dignity, human rights, and national liberation of all conscientious people. We've opened up our work with all minority and resistance groups of all colors.

Due to political retaliation by the guards in Colorado prisons, I've been moved to solitary confinement, in Colorado's highest security prison. Recently, the DOC headquarters told the public that it will put an end to administrative segregation (Ad-Seg). The 23 hours a day spent in total isolation with a TV to babysit us is no longer going to happen. Yet, all it did was to create an even more complicated form of isolation. Ad-Seg has turned into maximum security, with 3 levels to progress into the general population. Class one writeups which carry potential street charges are now given for fights, and other actions that can be perpetuated at any time by any guard.

STG-affiliated members can be sent to Ad-Seg for no reason other than the notion of a perceived threat. Unity of any type threatens the prison system and any prisoners caught taking any action will be subjected to the cruel imagination of the guards. I was denied soap and all hygiene items including a shower for 21 days, all due to my proclamation of my membership as part of a community. It's ok, it's worth the time I've spent alone, in fact your ULK was revealed to me while I was in Ad-Seg.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The United Front for Peace in Prisons builds for peace and unity amongst the oppressed, with an anti-imperialist platform. As more and more organizations like this across the country sign on to the United Front, we are working to implement these principles on the ground. We know that in the early stages many who take up this struggle will face long-term isolation as they become very real threats to the violent, predatory ways promoted by the U.$. prison system. Yet, as more courageous leaders step forward a critical mass will be reached that make the state's tools of repression less effective. We offer study groups and individual study materials for our comrades behind bars, programs that are especially important for those locked up in solitary confinement with no other contact with the outside world. We urge our comrades to make good use of their time behind bars to study and build, whether in isolation or general population.

chain
[United Front] [Organizing] [Gender] [ULK Issue 40]
expand

From Unity to Collective Liberation; Learning to Unite Against Gender Oppression

Just recently I finished studying a book from PM Press by Chris Crass titled Towards Collective Liberation. This was one of the best political/activist books I've read, and it has been vital in helping me clarify my political vision and goal for creating liberating and transformative change within myself and the world.

I was not aware how this system of divide-and-control creates and utilizes divisions along the lines of gender (sexism), sexuality (homophobia), ability (elder discrimination), and nationality (anti-immigrant rights) to maintain its ruling-class dominance. This lack of awareness of these systems of oppression along the lines of gender, sexuality, ability, and nationality caused me to be completely numb to and disinterested in any struggles for justice and equality as it relates to gender equality and reproductive rights, LGBT rights, elder rights, and immigrant rights.

Prior to reading Toward Collective Liberation, I would not have come close to embracing any struggles remotely dealing with feminism or LGBT rights, partly out of fear of being viewed by my heterosexual male peers as weak, feminine, or even gay. I now see how such a concern is in and of itself sexist and homophobic in nature and is indicative of my own internalized values of sexist/heterosexist male superiority. All women and LGBT people are human beings deserving of our respect and collective support as they too struggle for equality, basic human rights, and the right to live their lives freely, without hindrance, slander, ridicule or discrimination.

Having been in prison for 20 consecutive years, I bear witness on a daily basis to how these same divide-and-rule tactics manifest themselves even behind these prison walls. The penal system uses behavior modification and psychology against us, especially those politically active prisoners engaged in a protracted struggle against all forms of oppression. Such psychological tactics are inflaming/instigating hatred and violence amongst the different "races"; the use of prisoners who covertly collaborate with the penal administration; treating prisoners who are willing to collaborate with the penal administration in far more lenient/favorable ways than those who are not; using collaborating/informing prisoners to spread rumors detrimental to the character and reputation of natural leaders so they will not be trusted; and most noticeably, the use of Security Housing Units (SHU) and Administrative Segregation (AdSeg) as tools of repression to isolate all prisoners deemed to be influential.

Of course, there are many divisions amongst prisoners that can clearly be seen in these modern-day gulags:

  1. Division between much older and experienced captives who view younger, less experienced prisoners as reckless, lacking a "code" of ethics, and not willing to listen to instruction; and the younger, less experienced prisoners who view the older captives as washed up, institutionalized, and behind in the times
  2. Division between those who classify themselves as gay/bi-sexual who are resentful towards those classified as heterosexual who openly alienate them; and those classified as heterosexual who look down upon prisoners classified as gay/bi-sexual with disgust and hostility
  3. Divisions between those who are part of religious/cultural organizations such as Christians, Muslims, Rastas, Catholics, Gods and Earths, Atheists, etc.
  4. Divisions between nationalities and even within nationalities
  5. Division between lumpen street organizations who are convinced that it is more "gangsta" to fight each other rather than fight for change in the circumstance or environment, against oppression and exploitation, inhumane living conditions, extortion, substandard food, etc.

And many more.

The "Agreement to End Hostilities" initiated by those courageous brothers of the Pelican Bay State Prison - SHU Short Corridor Collective and the "United Front for Peace in Prisons - Statement of Principles" developed by MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within, and other types of progressive collective moves taking place in various prisons across this Empire, are just glimpses of the type of unity and leverage we can achieve with a multi-national, inter-organizational, cross-gender alliance if we develop a multi-dimentional analysis of how the penal administration utilizes our differences to keep us divided and at each others' throats instead of working together for our own common good.

What the penal authorities hate most is that after decades of oppressive and inhumane living conditions, the arbitrary use of SHUs, AdSeg, and this "lock 'em up and throw away the key" mentality, the progressive, revolutionary elements within the various penal colonies will always raise their head. They see within the progressive, revolutionary elements that which will expose and defeat them: the commitment, determination and resolve to oppose and ultimately abolish the criminal injustice system.

At the same time, they can see and feel their own powerlessness, for their power ends at the point when we all come together to lift our heads, take the reigns of our lives into our own hands, throw off the old guard, and collectively struggle to provide new guards for our future security.

chain
[Censorship] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 39]
expand

Illinois Court Rules Medical Books Not Allowed to Prisoners

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has just rejected an Illinois prisoner's lawsuit pertaining to the refusal of the prison to allow him to receive the Physician's Desk Reference and the Complete Guide to Prescription Drugs 2009. The court's rationale for this rejection was rather convoluted:


"Quite simply, the prison gave the books' drug related content as one of the reasons justifying its decision to restrict Muson's access to the books, and we don't need to look beyond the books' title and the content to know the books contain information about drugs."

By reading this statement, one would assume that the prison was afraid of the information that the prisoner would learn from reading these books, but later in the opinion, the Court indicated that the same books were available to be read in the prison's law library.

The Seventh Circuit has been issuing some rather head-scratching decisions lately concerning prisoners' rights, and this is simply another one. If the prison we are confined in does not have these books available in the prison library this is a point we as prisoners can raise around this case.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This court ruling demonstrates the arbitrary and unjust basis for censorship of prisoners' mail and reading material. The difficulty with fighting these decisions, which start with the mail room rejections, is that courts often uphold censorship with arbitrary and contradictory reasoning. We need the help of jailhouse lawyers and street lawyers alike so that we can take on some of these battles and expand prisoners' access to revolutionary literature in particular.

chain
[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 39]
expand

Texas Petitions Fall on Deaf Ears, Need to Shift Campaign Target

We here on Polunsky Unit are receiving the ULK and copies of the grievance petition. We are engaged in the fight on a very small scale. Hundreds of petitions have been sent to the central grievance office, Administrative Review and Risk Management Division (ARRM), Executive Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), and recently TDCJ Board Chairman Oliver Bell, but to no avail. Grievances are not submitted and grievance investigators claim to not have received them. Those that do get processed/submitted are not properly investigated and receive the standard response of "insufficient evidence to substantiate your allegation."

The KKKlantation Warden Gary Hunter is in collusion with grievance staff to trash/destroy any grievance/appeal that may get action if we proceed to the Step 2 level, that is if the Step 2 does not land in the hands of Regional Director Richard Alford who has been Assistant Warden and Head Warden on this KKKlantation within the 12 years that I've been here.

There is another struggle against Helen Sheffield (Sgt. of Safe Prison/Extortion). She confiscates personal property of offenders accused of extortion, running gambling businesses, stores, inappropriate relationships with female guards, etc., and destroys property if the offender refuses to snitch for her. This is all done under the watchful eye of Senior Warden Hunter and Assistant Warden Kenneth Hutto.

If any comrades in Texas can assist us in our fight against Sgt. Sheffield and her theft and unlawful destruction of offender property, please feel free to engage in this struggle.

To all comrades of USW in Texas, we must come up with a new direction to take this grievance campaign (new addresses, etc.) to send grievance petitions to because all the former names/addresses have failed us. My suggestion is the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) or ACLU Texas. We comrades on the Polunsky KKKlantation have chosen to forward our petitions to the DOJ.

chain
[Organizing] [Boycott] [Civil Liberties] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 39]
expand

Virginia Prisoner Punished for Organizing

I am in receipt of your introductory letter to the Prisoners' Legal Clinic and a copy of my edited article that's published on your website. Since the publication of the article, the prisoner who had previously been denied schooling is now enrolled. Your efforts and exposure had a positive impact!

Unfortunately, the other materials you have sent, Under Lock & Key, the study group materials, etc., continue to be censored. I'm awaiting the final decision of the Publication Review Committee, so I may send you their notice should you choose to file a lawsuit challenging the censorship.

With the appeal of my conviction for Encouraging a Group Demonstration being decided against me, I am not permitted a prison job. While I did not expect a favorable decision, I was stunned that the final arbiter explicitly admitted that I am punished, "Not for what you did, but for why you did it."

Of course the U.$. Constitution guarantees freedom of belief and speech. And the United Snakes Supreme Clout whose "justices" are the final interpreters of the constitution of the United Snakes have repeatedly ruled "[N]o citizen may be punished for his beliefs but only for his actions."

My point is, I was "convicted" inside the gulag for "encouraging prisoners to refrain from commissary purchases." This action is not a violation of the rules because no prisoner is required to purchase commissary. So the reasons that I encouraged prisoners not to purchase commissary - or my beliefs - are supposed to be immune from punishment. Yet the Virginia Department of Corruptions explicitly stated I was punished not for what I did but for why I did it.

I'm having the decision of the Virginia Department of Corruptions reviewed by some associates for consideration of filing a lawsuit. But to be frank, it has been my experience that for a prisoner in the gulag, the Constitution of the United States is most useful only when my roll of toilet paper is empty.

A paper document has no power. Ask the crime victims who've been beaten by the perpetrators who stepped across the boundaries of the "protective orders." Ask the black and brown people of the south who were beaten for voting even when a piece of paper stated this harassment was unlawful. The Constitution of the United Snakes says we have protected liberties, but the festered minds of the so-called "justices" are filled with pus, and they repeatedly ooze phrases telling us prisoners that the Constitution really does not say what is written therein. These pus-filled minds are fond of saying, in the prison context these god-given rights for humanity are subjugated to the objectives of the go-vermine-ment.

Think about that, my friends. Supposedly, the Constitution of the United States grants the God-given liberties that are basic and essential to human life, but those liberties are permitted in prison only as long as they are not contrary to a legitimate government objective. (read Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401 (1989)). By implication, this means the government has objectives that are contrary to what is basic and essential to human life.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This prisoner's report comes in as we are building for the September 9 Solidarity Demonstration this year. This day of peaceful unity and protest, commemorating the date of the Attica uprising has resulted in punishment of participants in past years. We cannot let them frighten us into inaction, but organizers need to take account of local conditions when deciding what actions to take on September 9. Prisoners can write to us for the September 9 organizing materials, which includes some background on the Attica uprising.

chain
[Abuse] [Polk Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
expand

HCON Abuses Fall on Deaf Ears, NC Prisoners Demand Grievances Addressed

[The following is text from a grievance submitted 18 September 2013 to the North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services that was accepted and then rejected without explanation. NCPLS is under contract with the NC Department of Public Safety to meet the legal requirement of access to legal resources for prisoners. As a result NC prisoners are not provided with law libraries. Meanwhile NCPLS repeatedly denies help to our comrades who have been writing them for years about the abuses like those described below. Combined with the obstructionism of the department staff handling grievances, North Carolina prisoners have become frustrated with the injustice and responded with hunger strikes and a campaign to demand that grievances are addressed in the state prison system. We have edited the text from the original grievance for clarity. - MIM(Prisons)]

Dear Prisoner Legal Services,

I have been housed in High Security Maximum Control(HCON) North Carolina State Prison. HCON is long-term isolation with single cells including blocks A,B,C and D, housing 96 prisoners total.

I been here over over 9 months in 23/24 hours locked down and face years here. What follows is a brief summary of the problems prisoners (WE) have here. Us prisoners always try to address our problems with the officers. They ignore inmates on our daily needs when we have a concern to be addressed for whatever matter.

We have to beat on our cell doors and windows to get officers attention because the call button of all cells was removed from the rooms. Then some officers most of the time take up to 45 or so minutes to appear in our window. An extremely loud noise beating on cells windows for a day long and night on the daily basis does disturb the peace of other prisoners as well as staff members also.

The high official Mr. Muns, Polk Correctional Institution Superintendent, and Mr. Ryan Irvin Assistant Superintendent of HCON fail to address officers behavior to have them do what their job requires them to do.

Prisoners throw human waste (shit mixed with piss) at staff members or prisoners set cells on fire to get things done by staff, which results in the prisoner being indicted on street charges.

It's not right all this happens on the daily basis and the matters are still not handled. All that happening in special house building is out of order. It makes an unsafe housing situation for prisoners and state staff.

The prisoners' behavior causes lack of medical attention we're suffering in special housing. Medical staff denied us medical emergency when declared most of the times. For example, nurse Mr. Berry, on September 15, 2013 denied me medical emergency I declared for high blood pressure and chest pain.

When we do get a nurse to respond to a medical emergency they are all being performed inside the prisoners' cells, which is also incorrect because cells are unhygienic and contaminated. It's unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, prisoners who submitted sick calls forms are facing months delays to be screened or be seen by doctor Lightsey Joseph. It take up 2 or 3 months without any concerns been fixed still. Most of the time prisoners sick calls are addressed outside the prisoner patient presence by doctor Lightsey Joseph. Mr. Mitchell Lawson nurse supervisor fails to properly train nurses personnel and he is liable.

On occasions staff members abuse their authority in many ways by messing up prisoners' meals or playing our emotional sense. Our food trays serve poor amounts of food. We starve. Mr. Carl Miller food service manager is in charge.

All prisoners clothes we use are damaged clothing. So bad they cause itching, are uncomfortable and unhygienic clothes and we are being force to use them.

For special house prisoners all outgoing or incoming mail are being obstructed by Ms. Jacqueline Maxey S.T.G. Sergeant, including reading all family or friends mail. Prisoners sometimes can't reach the North Carolina Department of Public Safety main office in the outside world to put our concerns in head official hands. So they're dirty ways can always be hidden, to save their hides. We can't reach our loved one.

Special housing staff intentionally misdeliver prisoner mail to different prisoners for that very purpose to cause harm to the prisoner himself or family members or friends. Or prisoner grieve whatever matter is... our grievances are not addressed or give a joke answer at step one. Grievances soon get dismissal always. Mr. Orlando Brown is also liable for prisoners' mail clothes issues.

Prison official also punish inmates in the prison by feeding us Nutraloaf for a 7 day period. Nutraloaf is a mix of beans, oatmeal, grits, collard greens etc... Which is cruel punishment along with taking all inmate property mattress, clothes, blanket, sheets. Except the clothing we wear for up to a 7 day period.

Us prisoners should not suffer these punishment when charges are filed and served more prison time and visa versa. It is double jeopardy.

All these should not be outside issues. They are institutional matters because Polk Correctional Institution higher official Mr. Muns and Mr. Ryan fail to fixes the special housing problems by first addressing their lower officers' behavior. Instead of giving more hard work to the Court of Justice as also affecting groups of prisoners sentences and making an unsafe and unhygienic housing for both prisoners as well for staff members also.

Just get lower officers lack of doing what they were hired for to do their work.

Finally, Mr. Muns also Mr. Ryan fail to understand, balanced, and excellent neglected to mention the typical hours for lower officer workers is 12 hours a day, 2 to 3 days a week. Staff are overly tired, burned out officers workers will make errors causing harm to prisoners in many ways to neighbors, and to themselves the prison staff is under staffed.

This is how special house crazy is.

North Carolina prisoner legal services could this office put hands on this matters to challenge in court?

I wait for you to hear a trustful and positive respond. Thanks you very much.

Relief sought, to hire the amount staff workers correct by state statute indicate. Fix special housing problems that affects a group of prisoners or close high security maximum control N.C. building. We demand our grievances are addressed. Address all points above in this sorta grievance. Remove Mr. Ryan from office.

chain
[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 39]
expand

Walking Around With Your Eyes Wide Shut


Thinking back on all the times we spent
Running here, running there
Never taking the first step.
Conditioned to what's around you
Living in the puppet show of life

Dancing along, singing their song
Slowly stirring from slumber
All the bright colors often dimmed to their liking
Seeing with new eyes all the wonder
Pulling at the chains as they get tighter

The more you see, things ain't what they seem
The more you learn, things ain't what they should be
The more you know, running from their rules
You're living in their fantasy
It's time to wake up and break the chains!

Walking around with your eyes wide shut
Thinking you're in a land of the free
Seeing it's only the land of deceit
Speaking your mind is an act of terrorism
Breaking the chains piece by piece

Get a new state of mind
Relearning what never should have been forgotten
Bracing yourself for what is yet to come
Praying for strength to carry on
Holding true to your beliefs.

chain
[Censorship] [Perry Correctional Institution] [South Carolina]
expand

South Carolina Censors Writing Guide and Other Letters

I just received the latest issue of Under Lock & Key No. 38 May/June 2014, which is a surprise being that recently a copy of the grievance petition and a couple of guides were forwarded to the DOC's Correspondence Review Committee to see if they will allow me to receive them. The mailroom staff considers the material "questionable & inflammatory."

This censorship comes as no shock since the hypocrisy that they label as a "democracy" in Amerikan society censors the mass media and many other forms of disseminating knowledge, due to material being labeled "inflammatory." Although these restrictions clearly are in violation of their own constitutional laws, these imperialistic powers thrive from being able to control & manipulate mass information, therefore they will continue violating laws to maintain and/or advance their position.

Too much trust is placed in the Amerikan government, their structure and system by the Amerikan people/population. Maybe people still believe that Amerika guarantees the "right" to free speech because they don't have anything relevant to say. Whenever someone has something profound to say that the government may consider to be counter-productive to their message or a "threat," the message will be suppressed from being propagated on a mass level. Then some people don't care because they have never felt the need to speak out or say something meaningful, which displays that either they don't stand for anything or they are cowards. Or maybe people believe they have a "right" of free speech because they are supportive of this system, therefore everything they say is conducive to the message the government wishes to convey. In this way, these people never experience this form of censorship or are too blind to recognize it. Controlling or censoring what the media provides to the public is a main component to controlling the public. The Amerikan public is now experiencing martial law in its subtlest form. Too often "state of emergencies" are called for fabricated or manufactured reasons, only to benefit the Amerikan government.

I will notify you of the outcome concerning the study group guide, grievance petition, and guide to writing articles after the Correspondence Review Committee makes their determining decision.

United We Struggle.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This arbitrary censorship by Perry Correctional Institution officials demonstrates the lack of real reason behind their denial of some mail to prisoners. Included in the list of letters censored is MIM(Prison)'s writing tips, which has information on how to write articles for Under Lock & Key, including various grammar and spelling rules. Only if the prison considers education a risk would this denial make sense.

We do not believe that the Amerikan people are pacified entirely because of the control of their media and information. While this is certainly an important part of the Amerikan government's control of the country, there are plenty of Third World countries where governments have similar or even stronger hold on the media, and still the people rise up and organize against their own repression. Important to the Amerikan public's passivity is their material interest in the system. This prisoner gets at this point when s/he accuses Amerikans of having "never felt the need to speak out or say something meaningful", a state of affairs common in imperialist countries today where the vast majority of the population has been bought off and enjoys comfortable lives at the expense of the exploited peoples of the world.

chain
[Organizing] [Political Repression] [MD Reception, Diagnostic & Classification Center] [Maryland]
expand

Targetted for Filing Grievances in Maryland

Less than two months from my release date, I was maliciously scapegoated for my actions in reporting a continual, inhumane practice of Central Maryland Correctional Facility (CMCF). CMCF is a supermax camp that houses minimum and pre-release security inmates under Maryland's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS, formerly DOC). As you may imagine, there isn't much effort put forth by convicts to struggle (peacefully or otherwise) against administrative injustices, due to short release dates and the strict guidelines of the residential substance abuse program (RSAT), which half of the jail is binded by. For the vast majority of those assigned to RSAT by case management, it is mandatory under DPSCS policy that they complete the program or they receive a notice of infraction (ticket) in which all good days given to you at the beginning of your bid may be taken if found guilty. Needless to say, I'm hoping I can dodge that ticket somehow. But with the aforementioned in mind, you can understand the lack of political involvement at CMCF.

CMCF is a dorm setting and down in the RSAT building the bunk area is separated from everything (bathroom, TV, microwave, etc.). During count time the Correctional Officers (COs) are supposed to keep the doors locked only until they are finished counting the other side and then return to open the doors so prisoners can utilize the bathroom, two at a time. Most prisoners are frustrated by this "supermax-like" procedure of a pre-release camp because they were of the belief that the closer to getting home that you are, the easier your bid got. Getting to the issue, every now and then a CO will leave the doors locked for excessive time, consequently forcing us to hold our bladder and bowels.

When a legitimate situation arose, I felt it was imperative for someone to take up the vanguard so we could do some agitating of our own. This particular instance, the doors were locked for an hour and a half (no exaggeration), leaving some to piss in cups, while the officer bullshitted and remained in the bubble acting oblivious to the kicks on the doors and prisoners pressing the buttons that lets them know that someone needs to get out. A strong Black brother from the FOI (Fruit of Islam), me, and two other conscious brothers struggling to ameliorate the Black man's plight, encouraged our dorm mates to write it up so administration would know that we are sick and tired. Twenty five out of a dorm of 61 people filing grievances for the same reasons is abnormal to say the least, for that jail.

As a result of this protest I have been placed on Administrative Segregation pending adjustment (hearing) for four charges (most serious to least): engaging in a disruptive act, interfering with officer's duties, coercions, and forging documents. They alleged that I forced people to sign some grievances, signed others myself, and intimidated ALL participants with my STG status (I am validated as Blood). They needed what seems like a feasible explanation to dismiss the grievances filed - thus scapegoating the "intimidating, coercing, Blood member who had a vendetta against Officer D. Brown." But this route wasn't taken until after the THIRD attempt to get inmates to withdraw complaints using their usual bribery and manipulative tactics: promises of yard every night in exchange for signing off, saying the grievances wouldn't accomplish anything, etc.

There are lessons to be learned in every situation, this in particular being, not giving administration an easy target, as a conscious brother warned me of just before I got this ticket. For those who wanted to contribute but just didn't know how to write the complaint or were just too lazy, I wrote their grievances for them, all the exact same way that I wrote mine - this was a crucial mistake. I also spoke out more than others when administration came to convince us to withdraw our complaints - another vital mistake, giving them an easy target again. If found guilty of this ticket I face 180 days lockup, 246 days loss of good time, a year loss of visits and my security going to medium. Whatever the outcome, I will be seeking justice!


MIM(Prisons) adds: This story of punishment for filing grievances is echoed across the United $nakes prison system. And it is one of the reasons prisoners have initiated a campaign to demand grievances be addressed in many states. We have petitions that prisoners can use to fight the denial of grievances, though Maryland is one state where we still need someone to customize the petition for use. These campaigns are important for two reasons: first, they give prisoners a way to fight back against unjust denial of grievances and demand the prison respect their rights, and second, they provide an educational opportunity for prison activists. As a common battle faced by all prisoners, the struggle to get grievances heard can be used to unite many for a common battle, while educating all about the limitations of our struggle within the system and the need for an anti-imperialist movement for long-term and systemic changes. Write to MIM(Prisons) for a copy of the grievance petition for your state, or if one does not exist volunteer to customize the petition from another state to be used there.

This article referenced in:
chain