The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out
[Abuse] [Control Units] [Hays State Prison] [Georgia]
expand

Georgia Implements new Control Unit Program

I am writing to inform about the tier II program Georgia has started at all level 5 security institutions. This program is suppose to be a disciplinary management program, but in reality it is a cover up to keep prisoners on lock down.

There are 13 criteria that identify prisoners to be placed into the program, but since they've started this program there are prisoners who do not qualify but who have been placed into the Tier II program. The real reason the program was started is to keep certain organizations on lock down. The majority of prisoners in this program (90%) are African Americans. The other 10% are ones who have rebelled agains their system somehow so they were placed into the program.

You can be in the program up to two years at one camp and even if you complete it at one camp they'll send you to another camp that has the Tier II program and place you back on lock down.

At Hays State Prison inmates constitutional rights are being violated, they are refusing us recreation, our procedural due process has been violated, they are not feeding us 2800 calories a day, and they serve us cold food at all meals. Recently Hays State Prison guards have started carrying tasers. The officers let a prisoner kill himself, and if you piss one off they'll neglect feeding you or put something in your food.

In addition, the grievance system they have is bogus. Even if you word your grievance correctly and you have them dead to wrong, their reply will always be 'your grievance has been denied due to the fact upon investigation of this matter such and such say or nothing was found to be out of order.' When really no investigation was run, because they never talk to your listed witnesses or talked to you personally.

This is one institution that needs to be closed down. There is so much going on. The only reason certain things don't take place for now is because of the tactical squad that's running the institution, but when they leave it's back to beating on prisoners and other such cruel and unusual punishment.

The prisoners here are filing lawsuits but it's a process that takes time. Hays State Prison is practically starving prisoners and they violate constitutional rights as well as standard operating procedures of the Georgia Department of Corrections.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It's important that our comrades report on new programs like this Tier II system in Georgia because this is the sneaky way that states are now renaming long term solitary confinement. Also known as control units this isolation in and of itself is very harmful to people. As this comrade reports, Georgia is taking the repression further by restricting food and carrying out other abuses, and then denying prisoners the ability to grieve these violations of law. Georgia does not yet have a grievance campaign, but we hope that one of the many active comrades in that state will soon take up the challenge to create a grievance petition specific to this state so that we can push that campaign as another tool in our fight in Georgia.

chain
[First Nations] [National Oppression] [Environmentalism] [ULK Issue 39]
expand

Settlers Instigate Violence in First Nation Village

On May 1, in the northern Alaska village of Tanana, two state troopers were shot to death after being sent to the remote Alaska Native village to arrest a resident for misdemeanor violations including driving without a license and threatening a village public safety officer. The man's son shot the troopers as they entered into a physical altercation to arrest him.

The issue has been sensationalized in the bourgeois press as an extreme tragedy involving the deaths of the officers who were killed "in the line of duty." The young man who fired the shots is being vilified by the media as a murderer and arch-villain guilty of killing two cops who are painted as heroes and outstanding individuals. As droves of white settlers attended the long procession of police cars carrying and escorting the bodies of the troopers from the medical examiner to the airport in Anchorage, hands over hearts and tears in eyes, nary a word is to be heard in lament of the destruction of a young First Nation life and family. Upon further, deeper examination however, a picture emerges which places the emphasis on First Nation repression, police-state tactics, and a long history of neglect by the white ruling class of its oppressed, dependent and dominated rural native population.

It was not native or even just local law enforcement which came to intervene and attempt to take into custody the alleged offender, it was white outsiders who needed to be flown in from a far distant regional hub in the tradition of the imperialist colonial model. These intruders have no personal ties to such communities and they naturally are viewed with resentment and suspicion. This sort of "law enforcement" is seen as arbitrary, external, and illegitimate by many who are forced to recognize its jurisdiction at the barrel of a gun. It is also increasingly being challenged.(1)

At first glance, what would appear to have happened in this particular situation is that a local individual who was transgressing some relatively petty ordinances or laws (which, by the way, are mostly foisted upon the First Nation people by white settlerism from far-off white legislatures and courts) was confronted by what passes for law enforcement in most rural villages - a VPSO, or "village public safety officer." The alleged offender did not want to cooperate with the VPSO and threatened him. The VPSO then contacted state troopers. The troopers were eventually flown in, attempted to arrest said individual and a struggle ensued after the man resisted arrest. The man's son, upon witnessing this altercation, grabbed a firearm and shot the troopers in defense of his father. The media is portraying the son as a "cowardly and selfish" criminal who killed two of Alaska's finest. But let's now dig more below the surface to understand the real elements behind this unfortunate circumstance.

The father and son are connected with a group called the Athabascan Nation (Athabascan being their particular native tribe). This group denies the authority of the state over native lands. They have also questioned and challenged the authority of the VPSOs.(2)

The position of VPSO was created by the state legislature. Instead of allowing First Nation sovereignty, and also even allotting appropriate funding for tribes to create their own, this was the state's way of providing a law enforcement presence in villages.

Most VPSOs are the equivalent of a native "Uncle Tom," a puppet of the "man." Though it is only the equivalent of putting a band aid over a gaping wound, many tribes in the south have been granted a form of limited sovereignty under a set of laws incongruously titled "Indian Country." The Navajo Reservation in New Mexico is an example. However, in Alaska, a clever piece of settler legislation called the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act killed "Indian Country" sovereignty in Alaska and instead regional "corporations" were set up, which in turn were given lucrative contracts on oil and mineral exploitation (most of which is still dominated by Euro-Amerikan multinationals like BP and Exxon anyway). These corporations make considerable amounts of money for a relatively few shareholders while providing limited health care and other services but little else. In other words, it was and is the Euro-Amerikan exploiter class's way of bribing a significant enough portion of Alaska natives to be content with being an otherwise plundered and oppressed colonial, subjected people. This has effectively kept most pacified, while corporations appropriate natural resources, including oil, gas, minerals, timber, fish, etc, worth billions of dollars to the ruling class exploiters.

In order to maintain complete control over these lands, the white plunderer ruling class has even imposed their own arbitrary laws and regulations on the First Nation peoples' way of life — their traditional and time-honored means of subsistence. As an example, state fish and game officers forcefully prevent indigenous peoples from harvesting food resources that they have for thousands of years, in the name of preserving stocks and preventing depletion (so that great white hunters won't run short on sport-hunting). They are then forced onto the rolls of social welfare programs such as food stamps, thereby making them into a totally dependent population. The social evils this has produced are numerous and horrendous, including creating feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness amongst a formerly proud and self-sustaining, independent people and therefore contributing in large part to the extremely high rates of suicide and drug/alcohol dependency and in effect inflicting another indirect genocide on the First Nation peoples.

There is, of course, something patently obscene with a nation who have historically been the biggest polluters and foulers of the earth imaginable telling those engaged in indigenous practices that have proved sustainable over generations what they can and can't do on their land. From over-fishing by commmercial fisheries, mines like Pebble Copper and Usibelli Coal and, of course, fossil fuel extraction, Amerikan dominance of the Alaskan territories has brought ecological disaster. This March was the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound, killing hundreds of thousands of shorebirds. While bird populations are recovering, others have not, including the local Orca populations that have continued to decline since the spill.(3) And that's only beginning to scratch at the surface of the farcical nature of white colonial rule.

Returning to the VPSO issue, it can be seen they are only a quisling representative of white colonial rule and are additionally so powerless that they all are even unarmed, making them completely dependent on state enforcement. Tribal councils themselves are little more than puppet shows. Tribal authorities rarely challenge state rule or push for sovereignty because they are, for the most part, bought-off. They don't want to lose state funding and corporate backing or jeopardize their own salaries and positions. Members of the Athabascan Nation and other similar groups recognize this and fight against their treachery and hypocrisy. Unfortunately, the latest action against the troopers by an over-idealistic and perhaps protective young man amounts to focoism that has destroyed his life, but this has shed a lot more light on the need for natives to assert far more control and autonomy over their own affairs separate from state interference.

Showing their complete disregard for their own and their status as lapdogs of state authority, the tribal council of Tanana moved to banish the man troopers came to arrest as well as another "aggressive" member of the Athabascan Nation, calling them "intolerant." Why not also banish outside, militant and aggressive officers of an oppressive regime bent on stealing and keeping your land? They'd rather banish two of their own? This speaks volumes.

In contrast, even the young man who is accused of shooting the cops seems to have had a better grip on who his real friends and enemies were, as, even though he also drew a bead on the native VPSO who was present, he lowered his gun and declined to harm him. This in itself speaks loudly for the need for tribes to govern and police themselves. It is far harder to harm someone you identify with or know, than it is someone you have had no interaction with and view as a foreign aggressor. It is also interesting that after the shootings, the local VPSO was able to take the young man into custody with the help of a few community members without further incident. So clearly, this was not, contrary to most media reports, a case of an out-of-control, criminally minded and dangerous coward, but a young First Nation man coming to the defense of his father who was being accosted and assaulted without due cause by an aggressive, militant and foreign force he did not recognize and rightfully viewed with hostility and distrust.

Not very surprisingly, even reformist measures such as the concept of "Indian Country" are vehemently opposed by the state government. If enacted, this would take away state authority and create a dual-legal system on the small amount of tribal (vs. corporate) lands that would become "Indian country."(4) In other words, the white settler state might lose its ability to fully plunder and loot the First Nation people and their land, and lose its ability to legally impose its will on the people by force.

We must fight for the national self-determination of First Nations. The imperialists must be forced to end their absolute hegemony and domination over the indigenous populations and the vast wealth of their country. The First Nation people must not be subjected to a cruel, indirect genocide and forced assimilation into white Euro-Amerikan "culture," with all its comparatively decadent values, fetishization of money, and inherent corruption.

The only solution is the revolutionary one - to support and accept nothing less than full First Nation sovereignty for all indigenous peoples.

chain
[Youth] [Legal]
expand

Innocent Kids Convicted of Murder while Guilty Corporate Execs Get Profits

Juvenile Justice?

I've been slapped in the face with a crazy example of how this country uses its criminal system as social control.

In 1997 I was locked up for 1st degree murder for a robbery that happened when I was a kid just 17 years old. I didn't get to try the 1st Degree Murder Charge in court, only the robbery. This is due to the "Felony Murder Rule" (Cal P.C. 190.5) which says basically: all deaths that occur during the preparation, the act itself, or in fleeing of any serious felony are 1st Degree Murder. I didn't kill anyone or want anyone to die, but, because I wouldn't testify against anyone I became an adult murderer, even though I was neither.

The felony Murder Rule theory says since all adults should anticipate all potential outcomes of every act, they're responsible for anything that happens should they not alter their behavior based on the potential worst case scenario. So one becomes morally culpable for the acts of everyone involved. Disregarding the supposed pillars of our "justice" system: act and intent.

In 2012, Miller v. Alabama (S.67 U.S_,_,_) applied the primary theory in Graham v. Florida ((2010) 560 U.S. 48) to murder cases, which says "juveniles who don't kill or intend to kill have a twice diminished moral culpability when compared to adult murderers." This obviously eliminates the only "evidence" used to convict me of 1st Degree Murder. I was automatically an "adult" because of the serious felony charge. I was automatically a "murderer" because I caught the robbery. But the principal that invalidates my conviction can't be automatically applied. Nope. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) laws that restrict collateral reviews through my only recourse - Habeas Corpus petitions - are so complicated judges write books on their unconstitutionality. I had a 1% chance of being heard by the court.

Even the blood thirsty citizenry of this country balked at the insane application of this felony-murder rule on Dr. Phil when discussing the Elkhart 4 in Indiana, where 5 kids burglarized a house thinking no one was home. The owner shot and killed one and injured another. The 4 living kids got 50 years to life! Guilty of burglary, automatically adult murderers.

In California they tried to mitigate the effects by enacting P.C. 3051 which makes it easier for juveniles to parole after 25 years. So, I was found guilty of murder I didn't do, couldn't try in court, that your own law says I'm no longer guilty of but, I'll only have to do 25 years? Wow.

Could you imagine if the CEO of GM was charged with murder for approving the continued use of the faulty ignitions that led to the 13 deaths from their use? If the general who ran the VA was charged with murder for the 40 deaths they found so far that resulted from the faulty list waiting times? If wardens were charged with murder for every death by prisoner suicides? All these people committed crimes that led to peoples' deaths.

But these businesses are protected from culpability using U.S. v U.S. Gypsum Co. citing Morissette v. U.S. where the Supreme Court expressly articulated the importance of "mens rea" (act/intent) to "our" system of criminal law.

That's their system of criminal law. Poor minorities get Rockefeller, 3 strikes, felony-murder and AEDPA laws. A ton of other laws I'm sure.

I was a kid, unarmed, who wanted money. I got life in prison for a murder I didn't do, without a trial. There are thousands of us in U.S. prisons.

They get 'em young. But we're gonna put up our anti-felony-murder rule use on juveniles legal argument in light of Miller v. Alabama on the internet for those who choose to push that pen. One of us will get them.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a very good example of the Amerikan Criminal Injustice System. And the parallels this comrade draws to the CEO of GM and other corporate executives are right on target. When people criticize socialist China under Mao for "persecuting" landlords, imperialist spies, and capitalists they purposely ignore the murders, rape and brutality that these people enabled, in many cases directly perpetrating. A landlord who demands from a peasant payment of his entire crop in a drought year means inevitable starvation for that peasant's family. This leads to deaths easily foreseen by the landlord. And so under socialism landlords are convicted of these crimes. The same people who decry these socialist actions as "unjust" stand by while people like this writer are locked up for deaths they did not cause and could not have anticipated. This is the double standard of the capitalists.

chain
[Censorship] [Political Repression] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
expand

W.L. Nolen Mentorship Progam Cited as Gang Material

Know Your Role

Community Bulletin from the Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement - First Amendment Campaign

This bulletin is to alert and update the community on the current fascist offensive that is being waged by one sadistic pig named S. Burris of the Pelican Bay State Prison - Prison Intelligence Unit (aka IGI). Officer S. Burris is going through some very drastic measures to try and criminalize the W.L. Nolen Mentorship Program (WLNMP). This is typical of any fascist!

For example, within the WLNMP's Mission Statement, it states that our objective is to provide the community with alternatives to joining gangs, along with tools of violence prevention and intervention. Only a complete idiot would insist that this constitutes gang activity!

Officer S. Burris is attacking the WLNMP, not because we're involved in criminal activities, no! The WLNMP has been placed under attack because it possesses the potential of educating and unifying the oppressed masses to their real purpose in life. And this truth makes the WLNMP a viable threat to the prescribed social order of U.$. capitalism.

I have provided the community with factual evidence, wherein the courts have determined that George Jackson and W.L. Nolen were not Black Guerilla Family "prison gang members." They were actually members of the Black Liberation Movement. To receive a copy of this documentation, write to the below address and ask for the Request for Judicial Notice dated February 24, 2014 in the legal case of Marcus L. Harrison v. S. Burris, et al. - Case No: C-13-2506.

Attn: Central Texas ABC
c/o John S. Dolley
PO Box 7187
Austin, TX 78713

In the month of April 2014, I was issued four Stopped Mail Notices and one CDC 115 Rules Violation Report for communications relating to the WLNMP. For example, a comrade of the Maoist Internationalist Movement has contributed to the WLNMP by typing some of our study documents. I personally wrote these study documents and sent it to our MIM comrade via regular mail, but when s/he attempted to send me a copy it was disallowed on the grounds that W.L. Nolen and George Jackson are "prison gang members."

In conclusion, it must be noted that this contradiction is a continued manifestation of the Dred Scott court decision from 1857, wherein the U.$. Congress announced to the world:

"The negro lies so far below whites on the scale of created beings that they have no rights that whites are bound to respect."

We New Afrikans have committed to absolving ourselves from this contradiction via our collective efforts to restore and protect our human rights with the creation of the Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement - First Amendment Campaign. We urge the community to get involved and check out our mission statement in the SF Bayview.


Dare 2 Struggle!
Dare 2 Win!

chain
[Abuse] [Salinas Valley State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 39]
expand

Inspired by Prisoner Standing up Against Oppression

Since I arrived here in Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP), I have personally observed officers oppress prisoners. One prisoner who is disabled was jumped on by these officers, and these officers falsified reports to cover up their use of unnecessary force. Well, he filed 602 (grievance) after 602 on these officers, and he has not allowed the tricks and oppressive tactics to stop him. They placed him in the hole and he managed to get out in 3 days. And now these same officers realize that he is not going to stop, and have turned to getting at other prisoners to get him off the yard, all because of his 602 filing and the direction he is taking against them.

Other prisoners have mentioned how this person always has the officers around him, as to feed into the officers agenda, but that's just not true. This prisoner would be minding his own business, and they start provoking him, so he turns around and uses law back at them. One time officers told him he was a "rat for 602ing all the officers," and he told the officers he would 602 them if they violate him. They responded that they are not afraid of the 602, but when he asked them if they are afraid of "the grand jury" they changed their tune, and demeanor.

I have never seen anyone who was not afraid of the officers, despite what they have already done to him. The amazing thing is he stays to himself and is laid back and shares law with others. I never once seen him involved in any altercations, verbal or physical, with other prisoners. Some officers don't want to even touch him during searches, and I overheard one say this is because he loves his money and job.

This is inspiring to me, because I have watched the officers throw everything at this prisoner and he is still not dissuaded. And now the divide and conquer tactic of paying another prisoner to take care of their problem is what they have resorted to.

I hope MIM(Prisons) is able to convey what I am saying, because I see the teaching from the United Front for Peace in Prisons statement of principles in his walk, and just some of the fruits of these principles that he is reaping, too. I know the officers hate him because I personally hear them talking bad about him.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a great portrait of a prisoner fighting his own battles in prison and through this fight inspiring others. He exemplifies the Peace principle of the UFPP: "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression." Drawing the hatred of the prison officers is a good sign of success, though of course we always want to minimize the suffering of our comrades and help them gain as much room to organize and survive behind bars as possible.

chain
[Hunger Strike] [Migrants] [US Penitentiary MAX] [Federal]
expand

Federal Supermax Prisoners Fight Complacency and Injustice

I began a hunger strike here at the federal supermax 16 days ago with several peers. My body is weak but my indignation is as powerful as ever and fuels my determination to not give up. The federal prison system controls us by giving us email, MP3 players, and huge meals daily. But under all of this we are not free and we must not ever trade our freedom and dignity for entertaining distractions and sugary snacks.

As many states slowly begin to close prisons, the federal government now seeks to use illegal immigration as an excuse to incarcerate thousands of poor migrants en masse. Only a corrupt, cold, capitalist society would justify incarcerating children simply because they were brought to America seeking food, shelter and a better life. Wall Street crooks haven't spent one day in a jail cell yet thousands of migrant children sit piled into cells so tightly there is no room to walk.

We must not become fat, lazy, complacent and compliant in the destruction of the social and moral fabric of our society (any more than it already is). We must all resist oppression for as Frederick Douglass once said, "The limits of tyrants are proscribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree wholeheartedly with this prisoner's sentiments about prisons, immigration and capitalism. And we join his call to all to resist oppression and complacency. We do, however, have some concerns about people initiating hunger strikes without clear demands and goals as this can lead to the weakening and even death of comrades who still have much to contribute to the struggle. This is a question of strategy and ensuring that we carefully plan actions so to maximize our energies and efforts, rather than bringing down repression without any gains. Sometimes we do take on losing battles, but in the course of these fights we are able to use the struggle to educate many and gain new supporters. We do not have more details on this comrade's hunger strike so we offer these cautionary words without judging h particular situation.

chain
[Medical Care] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 40]
expand

Hailey Care: Heathcare Disaster in South Carolina

While imprisoned on one of South Carolina's 27 prisons, I've come to understand that Hailey Care is a system that uses the denial of basic health as a form of social control. Hailey Care offers prisoners poor nutrition, medical neglect, ignoring medical complaints, deliberate indifference to medical needs, improper diagnosis and failure to provide prescribed medication.

Nikki Hailey, a Republican and South Carolina's first female Governor, is responsible for this system. So far Hailey Care has meant a denial of medical care for a lot of Black prisoners, especially for older prisoners. Doctors who come to work for the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) usually have less than stellar records, come from other states where they have been barred and/or have an array of sanctions. Perhaps for South Carolina and its medical board it's a case of "political unaccountability" and an indifference to the human lives of its lumpenproletariat class.

One case in point was Dr. Paul C. Drago (lic # 9700531), barred from three states: New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. He's listed as a plastic surgeon, and was hired by the SCDC, but after many complaints he was said to have resigned. The SCDC then brought in Physician Assistant Gregory Schaller, who time and time again exhibited intolerance towards the medical needs of Blacks. After much resistance he too resigned.

I'm currently under care of Dr. Robert Sharp, an Osteopath. I went to see Dr. Sharp and I requested medicated shampoo for psoriasis of my scalp. I also informed him that I was indigent and could not afford shampoo from the canteen. His reply: "I'm Jewish and a tax payer and I'm not ordering shampoo for an African American's hair." Because I reported his racial remarks to human resource staff person Ms. Wright, a member of the predominately Black "overseers" here at the Ridgeland plantation, I was labeled a liar and given a sanction of 15 hours extra duty.

As of the writing of this article, I'm in need of glasses, and am being denied treatment for sleep deprivation and a degenerative nerve disorder. Just today I reported the fact that I have holes in the bottom of my "crocks." I was told I have to wait a month, while under the auspices of Hailey Care. I will continue to speak out about the inadequate health care abuse in South Carolina's prison kamps.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We've written extensively about the failure of capitalism to provide adequate healthcare so it's no surprise that the healthcare provided in South Carolina prisons is even more dangerous to the health of prisoners.(1) In previous articles we've exposed Dr. Drago's incompetence on our website. The dismissal/"resignation" of him and his equally incompetent successor are tactical victories, no doubt in response to the complaints and bad press. We encourage all readers to follow this comrade's example in exposing abuse in all forms, including medical neglect and malpractice. While we cannot create a system of healthcare that provides adequately for all under capitalism, we may save some lives by stopping the most dangerous practices. We can even use this information to educate people about the need to put an end to imperialism, a system that lets people suffer and die around the world with no interest in the health of the majority of the world's people.

For those interested in alternative healthcare systems to the ones failing us currently, we recommend studying how the public health standard was raised in communist China under Mao. We distribute a number of books on this topic through our Free Boos for Prisoners Program.

Note: See ULKs 12, 15, and 34.[

chain
[Censorship] [Security] [Civil Liberties] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 39]
expand

Facebook Shuts Down South Carolina Prisoner Accounts

facebook in prisons
I have initiated this correspondence in reference to the most recent arbitrary action taken by the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) that infringes upon the First Amendment rights of incarcerated, and non-incarcerated, citizens. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states that:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

However, the SCDC, which is not even a legislative body, has implemented a policy that impedes and infringes upon the constitutional right to freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The following offense was amended to SCDC Policy OP-22.14, Inmate Disciplinary System:

"905 Creating and/or assisting with a social networking site: The facilitation, conspiracy, aiding, abetting in the creation or updating of an internet web site or social networking site."

This SCDC policy has resulted in Facebook, a social networking site, taking the following arbitrary action on accounts created by, or on behalf of, prisoners within the SCDC:

"Your account is locked because it doesn't comply with inmate regulations. People who are incarcerated may not be eligible to use Facebook if:
* It is prohibited by state law or regulations of the facility
* The account is being maintained by someone else"

These actions on the part of the SCDC and Facebook are of significant public interest due to the fact that they prohibit non-incarcerated citizens from exercising their First Amendment right to be able to create and update internet websites and social networking sites, utilized to advocate for family and legal support on behalf of their incarcerated family members or loved ones. Further, these actions by the SCDC and Facebook prohibit non-incarcerated citizens from being able to publicize the conditions, and rehabilitative efforts, of their incarcerated family members and loved ones. Such decisions by the SCDC do not serve any "legitimate penological interests" and are in direct conflict with any rehabilitative and re-entry agenda. Most importantly, they are violating non-incarcerated citizens' First Amendment rights to free speech.

The SCDC may cite "security concerns" but this is not a valid response. To prohibit the creation and/or updating of all websites and social networking sites by, or on behalf of, any prisoner within the SCDC is not a sound defensible position. It would effectively negate the hundreds of prisoners who want to establish a true re-entry plan or proceed on a path of rehabilitation. It would also prohibit non-incarcerated citizens from exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech. In addition, it would punish prisoners for the exercising of this protected right by non-incarcerated citizens.

In a similar case, the U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, decided against such policies and made the following ruling:


"Prisoners may not be punished for posting material on the internet with the assistance of non-incarcerated third parties." Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty v. Ryan, 269 F. Supp. 2d 1199 (D. Ariz. 2003).

My family created and updated a Facebook account on my behalf to advocate for the support of my family and friends, and to publicize my conditions of confinement and rehabilitative efforts and progress. Facebook has locked that account due to SCDC's arbitrary policy. My family and I are preparing to take legal action against the SCDC, because although they can limit the rights of prisoners due to "legitimate security concerns," they do not have the legislative power to impede upon non-incarcerated citizens' rights.

My family and I would be grateful for any aid and assistance, or referrals, that any individual citizen, or group of citizens, may be able and willing to provide. We would respectfully request that everyone help in publicizing this issue, because there are many citizens who are unaware of the fact that they are affected by it. I thank you all in advance for your time and assistance.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We know that many prisoners and their families and friends make use of social networking sites like Facebook to publicize their case and garner help and support. This attempt by SCDC to further limit prisoner's voices comes as no surprise after they banned literature coming from outside sources a few years ago. We have seen an upswing in prisoner activism in South Carolina over the past year, and this policy suggests the prison will do whatever it can to restrict these activists from getting word out about the abuses and injustice going on behind bars.

We know that social networking sites like Facebook are not going to form the basis for successful revolutionary struggles, and that we must build independent institutions of the oppressed, whether online or elsewhere. Yet even that would not address the threat of punishment against prisoners for providing information that is posted online, the basis of this very website. So we stand behind this prisoner's fight and agree that SCDC does not have the right to impose these restrictions. Meanwhile, we call out Facebook for playing along with regulations that shut down the free speech of prisoners and their family and friends.

chain
[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
[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