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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [Red Onion State Prison] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 37]
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Virginia Youth Take Up Struggle After Older Leaders are Transferred

As a young komrad here at Red Onion, I've had the privilege and blessing to run across some sharp komrades who were right and exact and were causing an uprising here. This wicked imperialist system felt threatened by this vanguard uprising. They used divide and conquer tactics to break the spirit of the lumpen who were politically awakening, by shipping certain komrades out of state to stop this vanguard movement.

United Political Prisoners Syndicate (UPPS) is a lumpen study group. I'm striving to pick up where the other komrades left off. The basis of our agenda is to wake up the oppressed stalag* prisoners in Dead Onion and throughout gulags in Virginia. I believe we as prisoners have all the power in our hands, but only if we move on the same accord can we be successful. We can employ tactics of hunger strikes, refusing to buy commissary from Keefe, and stalags who do some type of work all going on work strikes. These three actions alone will have these pigs in a serious bind until demands are met. UPPS is striving to get all oppressed lumpen on this accord. The masses always say stalags aren't going to go all the way. You can't worry about that and let that deter you from the bigger picture which is liberation for the people. We have the opportunity to expose this corrupt imperialist Dead Onion and Wally Ridge for what they are!

Like Bobby Seale said "Seize the Time," the time is at hand. When you know and overstand how the enemy thinks it puts you on guard and helps you in the long haul. To know and learn from history, helps dictate your future. All power to the people.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It is a long-standing tactic of the prisons to move political leaders around when they start organizing effectively in one place. This is why it is so important that no one individual takes on all the leadership or becomes a point of failure for the local movement. We must constantly be educating new comrades, building new leadership, and delegating tasks so that when our leaders are locked up in control units or transferred out of state our local struggle can continue. This is also why it's important for everyone to have direct contact with MIM(Prisons). Relying on others in your prison to share their ULK and other literature may seem efficient, but when either you or they are moved you will be unable to contact us and will lose connection to the broader anti-imperialist movement.

* stalag was a term for prisoner-of-war camps in Germany during the first and second imperialist wars

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[Economics] [ULK Issue 37]
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Cap the Maximum Wage in the United $tates

In addition to minimum wage studies, what about maximum wages? I think when we raise the minimum wage in the U.S., we are really just inflating. Unless we cap each and every person in the top six-digit-plus earning categories, there will be no end to the misery. I won't go so far to say we cap every salary at $25,000, but I would cap at $98,000. And maybe put a Texas prison in Cambodia and Bangladesh, and send prisoners there who are caught saying "I'm bored" more than twice. "Sure you are!"


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is responding to the article in Under Lock & Key 36 "Raise the Minimum Wage to $2.50". In that article we point out that "The proposed minimum wage of $10 per hour would ... put the lowest paid Amerikans at 50 times the pay of the lowest paid Bangladeshi if we account for cost of living." And so our call for a global minimum wage is not in the material interests of the vast majority of people in First World countries. But it is strongly in the interests of the majority in the Third World.

A maximum wage is an important component to implementing a global minimum wage. We are fighting to close the dramatic difference in wealth between exploiters and exploited. Starting with a cap of $98,000 per person per year is quite generous to the exploiters. As we have explained previously, Amerikans are already in the richest 13% of the world. So if we re-distribute the wealth equally to all people of the world, we won't see anyone left with salaries of $98,000. But it's certainly a start to place any cap on maximum wages.

As for putting prisoners of the United $tates into Third World prisons, we strive to draw connections between U.$. prisoners and the Third World masses because of the extreme oppression they face. We do not wish to worsen those conditions. And while many come into prison with spoiled Amerikan perspectives, prisoners in the United $tates have legitimate complaints that must be prioritized strategically. It is critical that we keep an internationalist perspective in all of our work. When we fight to improve conditions for individuals in prison, we need to keep the privileged status of Amerikans in mind and always ask ourselves if the reforms we demand will harm others in order to benefit ourselves. Getting video games for prisoners, which are made from materials mined by brutalized proletarians in the Congo would be an obvious example.

Internationalism is fundamental to everything we do, and the economics of global imperialism is just one aspect of the global inequality of imperialism.

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[United Front] [Organizing] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [New Afrika]
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New Virginia Organization Embraces United Front for Peace

Thank you for sending me the essay titled Let's 'Gang-Up' on Oppression by Owusu Yaki Yakubu.(1) Having become a "reformed" gang member, this essay was extremely enlightening and solidified what I already knew: that the government fears the unification of gangs and their unified opposition against oppression. They also fear any gang member or other lumpen street elements developing a socially conscious, politicized, and revolutionary mentality.

I became politicized in the early 90s during my second year of captivity. I took a long and hard look at myself as a so-called "gang" member and I came to realize that I was being manipulated by the powers-that-be, through the process of psychology and socialization, to commit genocide against my own people. So I cut my gang ties and came to embrace Revolutionary New Afrikan Nationalism.

In his essay Owusu speaks about the New Afrikan Independence Movement. The article titled Terminology Debate: Black vs. New Afrikan, in No. 35 issue of Under Lock & Key, also speaks about New Afrikan Nationalism. I am in the process of starting an organization called My Brother's and Sister's Keeper (MBSK), which embraces Revolutionary New Afrikan Nationalism as its political mass line, or guiding principle. This ideology calls for the establishment of an independent socialist New Afrikan republic in the Southeast (USA), specifically in the Black-belt, the destruction of the North Amerikkkan imperialist state, the liberation and unification of Afrikan nations worldwide, the construction of a New Afrikan society, and the building of a new world order.

A New Afrikan is an Afrikan born in north Amerikkka. The name and concept "New Afrika" reflects our identity, purpose and direction. "New Afrikan" reflects our identity as a nation and a people - a nation and a people desiring self-determination. "New Afrikan" reflects our purpose as we desire freedom, self-determination and independence. By stating we are New Afrikans, we clarify we want to be independent from the Amerikkkan Empire. We want land and national liberation. We no longer want the ruling class of the amerikkkan Empire to determine our political, economic, socio-cultural affairs. MBSK sees that a people who do not control their own affairs is subject to genocide. When we control our own destiny we can determine our political, economic and socio-cultural affairs in the interest of our survival and development. "New Afrikan" also speaks to our identity because that's what we are. Our nation is primarily a racial, cultural, social fusion of various Afrikan ethnic and national groups - Iwe, Yoruba, Akan, Ashanti, Fante, Hausa, Ibo, Fulani, Congolese and several others - into a unique people. Even though our homeland was in Afrika, our people developed historical, economic, and spiritual ties to the New Afrikan National Territory, which consists of the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana. These states together are part of the historical Black belt birthplace, and the North Amerikkkan homeland of the New Afrikan nation. The struggle to free this land is called the New Afrikan Independence Movement (NAIM). To state we are New Afrikan recognizes our continuing aspirations to "free the land." "Free the Land" is the battle cry of the NAIM. When we say "free the land," the New Afrikan national territory is the land we are talking about freeing.

"New Afrikan" also recognizes our direction to build a new society based on new values. We want to create a revolutionary, progressive, humane society where exploitation of humans by humans is eliminated and all can live in dignity, peace and respect. As conscious New Afrikans, we work now to transform ourselves and our nation from decadent death-style of oppression to lifestyles of liberation.

MSBK embraces and upholds the United Front for Peace in Prisons statement of principles. we oppose any Willie Lynch-style divide and conquer tactics the fascist prison authorities (pigs) use to cause division amongst the revolutionary ranks and amongst the races or oppressed nations.

The essay Let's Gang-Up on Oppression re-affirms what we already knew: that we need to develop unity within and amongst lumpen street organization and re-direct their aggression and radicalism to wage the real war: revolution.

Again, I thank you for sending me your material. I made copies of the essay and the UFPP statement of principles and passed them out among the younger brothers here affiliated with lumpen street organizations.


Notes: 1. Let's "Gang-Up" on Oppression: Youth Organizations and the Struggle for Power in Oppressed Communities (revised) by Owusu Yaki yakubu. This version can be requested from MIM(Prisons)

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 37]
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Georgia Prisoners on Hunger Strike Since February 9

man behind bars
On 9 February 2014, prisoners at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison Special Management Unit (SMU) lockdown began another hunger strike to protest conditions. The hunger strike is to address abusive conditions, bugs being served in food repeatedly, sexual harassment, sexual assaults, beatings by officers while in handcuffs, being thrown on strip cells without food, feeding prisoners only 1500 calories daily when we are supposed to be given 2800 daily, refusing E-Wing yard call, refusing access to law library, and staff trying to poison prisoners. We are facing threats by staff that if prisoners remain on hunger strike they will die under their watch and it will be covered up.

Prisoners in the Georgia State Prison SMU have had enough of the oppression and decided to take a true stand to fight for our rights. Prisoners in the strike include many of the same prisoners from the 9 December 2010 and 11 June 2012 hunger strikes, and these prisoners are refusing to eat until conditions change.

On 25 January 2014, prisoners received trays at the SMU lockdown with bugs in the food. And after the bugs were pointed out by the prisoners to staff, they were told that either they eat the food or don't eat at all. Then when the prisoners tried to keep the trays to show the proof to the warden they were threatened by the daytime Officer in Charge, that if they didn't give up the trays he was going to suit up with his Correctional Officers and gang rape the prisoners. The prisoners still refused to give up their trays and were threatened again the next day: if they didn't give up the trays they were going to be refused their tray meals for that day. The prisoners had to go two days without eating just to show the warden the bugs in their food. And when the prisoners finally got a chance to show the bugs in the food, the warden only replied that it's nothing but a little bit more meat to add in their chili. This is not the first time that bugs had been served in food, but nothing has been done about this issue. Even though we file grievances, nothing but denials.

These prisoners have even been beaten by staff while in handcuffs. Nothing has been done about these employees' abusive actions. There is a coverup by Warden Bruce Chatman, Deputy Warden June Bishop, Warden of care and treatment William Poinel, Cpt. Micheal Nopen, Lt. Michael J. Kyles, aand even down to medical staff Mary Tsore and mental health staff Mr. Whitmoore.

Georgia prisoners are being denied access to the law library as guaranteed by the Georgia and U.S. law. Prisoners are only allowed two court cases per week to be delivered at their door on a piece of paper, and no books.

Medical staff are refusing to take notice of the hunger strike even though SOP VH47-0002 guarantees strikers health service.

The legal system refuses to respond, grievances are ignored or destroyed, and there is very little that Georgia prisoners can do to fight for their rights. Our only choice is to put our lives in danger by refusing to eat, and plead for some outside support.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The past few years have seen a sharp increase in prisoners using food refusal as a tactic to demand some improvements in conditions. Considering the powerlessness of prisoners, and the complete failure that is the grievance system in many states, it is not a surprise that people feel their only option to demand basic rights is to starve themselves.

We print many reports on these strikes in the pages of Under Lock & Key, and we know this inspires others to learn of similar struggles across the country. But we also encourage everyone to study these actions and learn from their mistakes. In Illinois, prisoners were manipulated by the pigs to end their strike prematurely. In South Carolina lockdown coordination problems ended their strike. In Nebraska prisoners failed to make clear demands and gained nothing after a two day protest. Even in California where prisoner unity is remarkably high, the response to the massive hunger strikes has been little more than lip service and program name changes. We must be prepared for such lack of response from the state with a long view of how to make change.

The underlying lesson in all of these struggles is the need for stronger education and organization before taking action. Greater unity will be achieved through education, and organization will build a solid system of communication and a strong and winnable list of demands. One quick lesson for all: when sending information to the media about your strike include something clear that people on the outside can do to support you. It can be a number to call or place to write to register their support.

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[Control Units] [Gang Validation]
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California's Most Dangerous Security Threat Group

CDCR Step Down rule changes
click image above to download pdf of all proposed rule changes
On 4 February 2014, a five page Notice of Proposed Regulations disseminated among prisoners warehoused in the death row Security Housing Unit (SHU) known by it politically corrupt misnomer "Adjustment Center" (AC). The notice states in part that any person may submit public comments regarding proposed changes. That's an open invitation to everyone reading this (including all prisoners disenfranchised by the state) giving us an opportunity to advance the struggle. Lately it's been like talking to the walls.

I'm a "person" on Calincarceration's death row who is currently warehoused on the first tier of this secret torture unit at San Quentin (SQ) State Prison called the AC. Per order of the oligarchy overlords who comprise the "Institutional Classification Committee" (ICC) my appeal submitted 2 December 2013, which provides documented evidence that their decision to continue to warehouse me here is based on false disciplinary history and a capricious misapplication of local operational procedures, is being ignored. Even the CDCR 22 requests making status inquiries to Appeals Coordinators M.L. Davis and R. Baxter, and the former LIEutenant S. Fowler, now a counselor and ICC lackey (full member), return nothing except their deliberate indifference.

That excerpt of my individual situation is only one example of how California's most dangerous Security Threat Group (STG) gets down and dirty. Mine is not an isolated incident either. It's only one of many weapons of mass corruption the CDCR Pilot Program has utilized to minimize, obscure, and censor the fact that they really are torturing prisoners in a way that's no different than what Phillip Garrido did to Jaycee Dugard — minus the sex crime factor. CDCR's goal is to take more hostages, build more torture units in back yards across the state, and their hideous Pilot Program is a bait and switch attempt. CDCR's main STG Pilot Program objective continues to be to crush, kill and destroy their hostages' ability to organize in a peaceful protest against no touch torture and other inhumane conditions of confinement.

Expanding the definition of "disruptive groups" by adopting several new terms is really the bastard children produced by CDCR unions. It's the sick minded schemes of bourgeois pigs behind the scenes of the Calincarceration Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), the Amerikkkan Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCRME) and others affiliated with the CDCR who would in fact reap a profit as the additional lackeys get hired to guard the torture units popping up like 7-Elevens everywhere! Yes, that's right. All in the name of PEACE officers AND job SECURITY (which is paid for by your taxed income).

What makes the CDCR STG "the most dangerous" is the fact that they all know what's really going on, and know that they're torturing prisoners. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has clarified that only 15 days in solitary confinement constitutes torture. I'm going on two years and some here have more than 10 times that. Here, in the secret torture unit at SQ, the STG Pilot Program is still being cooked up — and with "specialized" ingredients for an even fouler taste. The AC is a sort of ground zero for testing policies, a variety of no touch torture methods, and a twist on the death penalty experiment only depraved criminal minds could have concocted. SQ death row SHU prisoners shouldn't have to be the disposable human guinea pigs getting tortured to death in the CDCR STG Pilot Program. If the state is allowed to continue its medieval oligarchical practices resulting in another word game amounting to "de mock racy" then the public must not have realized California's most dangerous STG is the CDCR!


send your comments to:
CDCR
Regulation and Policy Management Branch
PO Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283

Make use of the grievance campaign by attaching your comments to copies of the petitions (see page 12 in ULK).

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[United Front] [Abuse] [Valdosta Correctional Institution] [Georgia]
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Guards Set Georgia Prisoners Against Each Other

Prisoners here in Georgia are being harassed by the wardens and their administration. Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) has a new program it calls the Tier Program, and many prisoners are being thrown into the Tier 2 program for 9 months for petty disciplinary, reports, which is against the U.S. Constitution's 8th Amendment banning cruel and unusual punishment.

Prison officials are also using food as a tool of cruel and unusual punishment towards prisoners. Only half of the population here in prison can afford to go to the store commissary. The prisoners who can't afford store goods are robbing those who go to the store. This creates violent conditions because 90% of the prisoners here are gang-related. And when the gangs go to war it goes down at every prison in Georgia. And some prisoners die in the gang wars. GDC created this problem so they can have a reason to lock all the prisoners down.

I put a 1983 civil suit on Valdosta State Prison here in GA and as a result Deputy Warden Orr tried to have me killed numerous times. On 7 December 2013 I was beaten badly with weapons by 15 prisoners, and I was sent to the free world hospital for 2 days. When I returned to the prison I was placed in lockup where all my property was stolen and the prison officials refused to replace my property. The Warden place me on Tier 2 program with 9 months in lockup as punishment for being attacked and seriously injured while my attackers went unpunished.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We are seeing a lot of reports of repression and resistance coming from Georgia recently. This comrade underscores the need for unity among both individuals and lumpen organizations. It is easy for the prison administration to pit prisoners against each other when they are focused on the fights between their organizations. But the real enemy, the one that is keeping everyone in prisons, denying adequate food, and throwing people in lockup, is the criminal injustice system. This is why we urge prisoners in Georgia to focus on building the United Front for Peace in Prisons. The UFPP's first principle is Peace: "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." This is critical to every prison, but in Georgia the recent reports suggest even more urgency to this point.

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[Abuse] [Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison] [Jenkins Correctional Center] [Georgia]
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False Disciplinary Reports used to Classify Prisoners into SMU

I have been to three prison camps this year alone. This month makes it 18 months that I've been incarcerated. Riverbend was the first prison I went to. After an incident happened between and officer and I, I wrote a grievance on him and there was an ongoing investigation. But before it could get anywhere they transferred me to Jenkins. I was at Jenkins for three weeks before I got transferred. While I was there I had a verbal altercation with an officer and he wrote me up but he exaggerated the incident, so to defend my character I asked his supervisors to review the cameras, but they refused. Then while I was on administrative separation I kept getting written up (about three times) for things that they didn't know who did them. I had a roommate with me at the time and when something went down they wrote us both up instead of finding out who did what.

Now my issue is that all those disciplinary reports (DR) that I got were not investigated, furthermore I didn't get a chance to go to DR court to defend myself. I don't know if you're familiar with the DR process but when you get one, a DR investigator is supposed to meet with you and discuss the incident. Afterwards you can take a plea or go to DR court where you're either found guilty or innocent, and that's the official DR process. These steps were not taken on any of the DRs I got.

After I was transferred from Jenkins I was sent to Jackson State Prison, to a program called Special Management Unit (SMU). When I got here they told me it was a program for prisoners who have a record of assaulting officers and behavior problems. I only have two DRs on my record that were concluded. The disposition for the first was dismissed and I was found not guilty on the second. So with that being said, I feel it was injustice to place me in this program.

Anyways, the most current issue is that I have been here since 23 January 2014 and I have not received any of my property. Recently I've been asking for my mail and writing materials, (i.e. paper, pen, etc) so I can contact my family and my attorney. I've spoke to the unit manager, the Lieutenant, the counselor, and the property manager about this at least twice and not one of them will tell me where my property is or why I haven't gotten them yet. There are several others with the same problem. If anything can be done to get this problem resolved please help.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This trick with the false disciplinary reports, especially on prisoners who write grievances for guard abuses, is common across the criminal injustice system. The campaign demanding that our grievances be addressed needs to be expanded into Georgia so that prisoner's there can take up this organized struggle. We are looking for a prisoner in Georgia who can modify a general grievance petition to the state-specific rules and situation in Georgia. Let us know if you can volunteer and we will send the information.

This is just one example of the system of oppression in this country that puts bad marks on the permanent records of oppressed nation youth starting in grade school. From there they are put into gang databases, given sentences, parole, plea bargains and in prison they receive disciplinary reports, STG status, etc. This is the state-sponsored burueacracy that keep the First World lumpen in its place. They are excluded from the economic system and many other benefits of imperialist society, and these discriminatory and often baseless labels help make it acceptable to the Amerikan public.

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[Organizing] [Oregon] [ULK Issue 37]
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Elevate the Prison Struggle Beyond Day to Day Goals

I just read this article from a Nebraska 'rad about a failed protest (in Under Lock & Key). It seems I'm not the only one dealing with embarrassments in resistance.

I'm at the largest joint in Oregon and have been in isolation for about 14 months. I've been a very reluctant participant in mess after mess of similar - if much weaker - attempts at goal driven resistance. I say "goal-driven", not "goal oriented" lest it give someone the impression that the kids here have some semblance of organization or some understanding of strategy and method. They don't. Further, I say "reluctant participant" because even though I realize the unquestionable futility of the motions carried out around here, I'll never be "that dude" who stood idle during any attempt at resistance to the swine.

The Nebraskan bloke mentioned the complaints the prisoners have against the swine, but didn't get much into the root of the disfunction of the prisoners during their upheaval. I'll assume that the problems in Nebraska are at least somewhat similar to Oregon's. Whether I'm right or not, I'll still say what I have to say for others looking at the same problems.

The fact of the matter is that we all face the same situation. We're oppressed on some level and want to relieve ourselves of that weight. Our ultimate goal and desire is to destroy our adversaries completely. This is all obvious. Each person's - or group's - particular complaints and level of victimization is largely irrelevant except for how it may affect the functionality of the revolt. In other words, the food quality and such, really shouldn't be occupying much space in one's mind or discussions when it comes to applying ourselves to revolt. It's universally understood that we're fed garbage and people seem to get hung up on these benign little details.

The goal is successful revolt. The problem is lack of proper organization. Here in Oregon we have too many gangs, none of which have been developed along a framework of functional organization. Not only does each gang act autonomously from the whole, but each individual acts autonomously from his own gang.

On the sporadic occasions that they all do decide on some undertaking together, there is never any defined, agreed-upon leadership. The usual formula is, 3 or 4 of the loudest gang members on a unit cook up some scheme to rail against the swine, then talk everyone else into jumping on board. The scheme is always something like "we're gonna refuse to do this or that until they give us this or that." And that's about as much planning and thought that goes into it. It may last a few days till people start dropping off, and a few more until it's abandoned completely.

Aside form lack of education in strategy and tactics, and aside from lack of education in proper modes of organization and the egotism that keeps us from filling certain necessary roles within the structure of organization, the big problem here is expecting some simple "cause and effect" in these fiascos. The idea that the swine will react how we wish or expect is absurd. The fact is, they have loads and loads of training, protocol and on-call specialists to deal with any situation we might launch against them.

Here we're never going in with anything close to a realistic understanding of the situation. We wage half-baked, disorganized, small-scope battles against an enemy that we're not taking fully into account. What we need to be doing is organizing a large-scale protracted war with the realization that we are facing a ridiculously superior adversary.

If we're still griping about food, TVs, phones and other luxuries, I dare say we have a very long way to go before we'll be of the right mentality to launch any kind of successful campaign. In fact, I'd say that if you're a revolutionary existing in the eye of the imperialist storm you really have no business looking at the fucking TV anyways.

In my situation, I've been struggling to come up with an organizational model that can transcend the divisiveness created by all the gangs to create one functional body of resistance. Once I've got everything put together, from the structure of board and body of the groups, down to individual roles and a clear and educated model of functionality complete with protocol for deciding direction and strategy, then I, along with a few of my cohorts here, will set out to put it into place. Once our machine is fully functional and each gear is spinning in unison with the others, only then will I be willing to make any sudden movements against my adversary.

As I said, if your mind is still on things like food, phones, programs, yard and so on, then I would suspect you haven't given yourself up to revolution as much as is necessary to achieve it. Maybe a lot of us don't have the fortitude of mind to reach the level of dedication that some of us have, but if you call yourself a revolutionary, it's not optional - you must sacrifice any desire for luxury for the sake of progress. Food only matters in so far as whether or not it keeps you alive and functional. Programs only matter in as much as the opportunities it affords you to communicate with each other to familiarize yourself with your environment.

I would strongly suggest that anyone who's interested in truly shedding the weight of these forces that are crushing you to stop focusing on those lame inconveniences and start studying more practical concepts. And until you have a full grasp of what your looking at, and until you have a full grasp of what needs to be done to destroy it, and until you have what you need in place, keep your head low, keep your mouth shut, keep your face in the books, and good luck!


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is relatively new to working with MIM(Prisons), a fact that we mention because we have a lot of unity and we hope that s/he, like many others behind bars, will come to look on United Struggle from Within as the structure that fits with what's needed to elevate our strategy and tactics in the prisons. The organizational model that this prisoner discusses, to elevate above divisiveness, is exactly what we too are striving to build, and is one of the main goals of the USW-initiated United Front for Peace in Prisons. We look forward to building with this comrade, through the pages of Under Lock & Key and other independent institutions. Our Free Books to Prisoners Program offers study packs on strategy, as well as organizational structures, and many other important topics. Comrades who are interested in this type of study should join a MIM(Prisons)-led study group today.

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[Control Units] [Mental Health] [John R Lindsey State Jail] [Texas]
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Fighting for Care of Disabled in Texas

In Jacksboro, Texas, Correctional Corporation of America unit offenders with disabilities are discriminated against per 42 U.S.C. ยง 12132. The use of solitary confinement on prisoners with serious mental illnesses at this jail does not meet state legal standards. Offenders rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as the Eighth Amendment are in dire straits. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) fails to follow policy and laws. Offenders are in their cells 24 hours a day. I was placed in a psychiatric unit in Lubbock, Texas (Montford Unit) from February to September 2013, locked in a cell all the time. Then I moved to state jail and all my medications that I was given by TDCJ doctors were taken away and they told TDCJ they don't allow that medication on this unit.

I am being given the run around fighting this because courts have ruled that private prison corporations are not a public entity merely because they have entered into a contract with a public entity to provide services. An instrument of the state is only a government unit or unit created by a government unit; as such, no title II ADA claims are applicable. The ADA does not apply to private prisons.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We have written extensively about the health effects of solitary confinement which is cruel and unusual punishment even for healthy prisoners. Those with mental health problems are even more dramatically harmed by this long-term isolation. Texas has a history of "treating" prisoners with mental illness with torture. We know that this isolation is a tool of social control in a criminal injustice system that does not care about the health of prisoners. Further, prisons use mental illness and labels, treatment and the withholding of treatment, as another tool of social control. We must fight this with our own institutions of mental health: education, persynal healthy practices, mental engagement and social interaction where possible. In addition to our educational programs and work connecting prisoners with the struggle on the streets, we distribute portions of the American Friends Service Committee's Survivors Manual for people in control units. Write to us for a copy and for more information on how you can plug in to the anti-imperialist prison movement.

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[Legal] [Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [Control Units] [Arizona] [ULK Issue 37]
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Fighting for Useful Legal Counsel in Arizona

end solitary confinement Arizona
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) picked up my pending case challenging inadequate medical services and unconstitutional conditions of confinement in 2011. We're expecting a trial date in 2015. We are attempting to force Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) to change its policy and practice of housing the mentally ill in isolation for extended periods of time. State prison is extremely poor, prisons are understaffed and riddled with security flaws. I am an adamant critic and am vocal about its policies and practices, therefore the administration has made my life here in prison severely difficult.

I am also working on my criminal convictions. I've navigated myself through multiple tiers of appeals. I really had a hard time exhausting all my state remedies in the Arizona State Courts. It took me almost eleven years to figure out, but most recently I filed my first federal habeas corpus petition in Arizona Federal District Court. I am requesting that the federal court appoint me a lawyer to investigate the possibility of state judicial corruption against the Tucson Police Department and the Pima County Attorneys Office. Last week I filed a Writ of Certiorari. This is a petition to the United States's highest court; they only address issues involving "Constitutional magnitude." I'm asking them to resolve the Constitutional question that was left open in Martinez V. Ryan, 623 F.3d 731, 132S.CT1309(1023) of:

"Whether a defendant in a state criminal case has a federal Constitutional Right to effective Assistance of Counsel at initial-review-collateral-proceedings specifically with respect to his ineffective-assistance-of-trial-counsel-claim."

Because state law does not mandate Effective Assistance of Counsel during a convicted criminal's Initial-Review Collateral Proceedings (Ariz. R. Crim. P. Rule 32), I'm able to believe that prisoners in Arizona are being discriminated against because they're indigent and cannot afford effective counsel during their Initial-Review Collateral Proceedings. The United States Supreme Court only takes 3% of the cases filed each term, so the odds of them taking my case is nil, but imagine if they did. WOW, this would mean that a pro se litigant would have molded the law to conform to the needs of the oppressed here at the very bottom of society's heap. A person is only as big as his dreams.

Fortunately, it does not end there. A Section 1983 Civil Rights Action prohibits a state from discriminating pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides that:

"No state shall... deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the Law."

The clause is "a direction that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike."(City of Cleburne V. Cleburne Living ctr, 4730 U.S. 432,439 (1985))

I am determined to build a strong campaign to gain Injunctive Relief in a class action seeking to remedy the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment violations caused by Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 32's past and continuing operations. Our actions, even if successful, will not demonstrate the invalidity of our conviction or sentence, therefore Section 1983 Class Action is the proper vehicle.(Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74,82 (2005).)

If you feel you were denied Effective Assistance of trial council, and a Fourteenth Amendment right to effective assistance of Appeals Counsel for your Initial-Review Collateral Proceedings because either you did not have an attorney during your first Rule 32, or your Arizona R. Crim. P Rule 32 Lawyer was ineffective for failing to investigate Trial Counsel claims and/or other substantial right claims during trial, it would be important to draft out a notarized affidavit outlining the facts in your specific case and send them to the addresses below. If we're able to gain enough affidavits, then we could proceed to present these facts to a federal district court asking them to appoint class counsel and certify our case as a class action. All we can do is try! In Strength and Solidarity, Revolution!

Send your notarized affidavits to:


Arizona Prison Watch
P.O. Box 20494
PHX, AZ 85036

Middle Ground Prison Reform
139 E Encanto Drive
Tempe, AZ 85281

Arizona Justice Project
P.O. Box 875920
Tempe, AZ 85287-5930


MIM(Prisons) adds: Please note to not send your affidavits to MIM(Prisons). We do not have the resources to copy and mail your affidavits to the addresses listed above.

We commend this comrade on discovering loopholes in the legal system and attempting to remedy them to the advantage of the most oppressed in this country. We encourage comrades in Arizona to participate in this effort to provide more legal support to prisoners in the state (at least on paper).

And we must remember that our struggle cannot stop there. While a successful habeas corpus case may help a prisoner to be released, a release is only as valuable as what you do with your time when you've made it outside. A recently released comrade wrote of the challenges s/he will face after h parole, and the difficultes s/he will have in carrying out political work, even though s/he is supposedly now "free." The trend toward individualism of general legal counsel is one reason why the MIM(Prisons)-led Prisoners' Legal Clinic only works on issues directly related to expanding our ability to organize, educate, and build toward an end to illegitimate imprisonment altogether (i.e. communist society). We believe people should fight for their release, but that they also should struggle for the release of the world's majority from the chains of imperialism.

Related to the topic of carefully selecting our battles, we have written extensively on the limitations of focusing on fighting housing mentally ill prisoners in long-term isolation.(1) Some shortcomings of this strategy are legitimization of long-term isolation for not-yet-mentally-ill prisoners, and the fact that long-term isolation leads to mental illness in prisoners even if they entered isolation with sound mind and body. Of course we agree with the principle that mentally ill prisoners should not be housed in long-term isolation. But we take it further to say that no prisoners should be housed in long-term isolation, and we see no value in selling out some comrades on this issue in order to save others; eventually everyone held in long-term isolation will suffer mental illness. Abolish the SHU!

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