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Under Lock & Key

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[Abuse] [Montford Unit] [Texas]
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Exposing Guard Brutality and Coverup in Texas

On 8/13/2013 an offender who has severe breathing problems was pepper sprayed in the face. I am sorry to say it took his life. On 8/14/2013 on A3 in an isolation cell an offender had his hand in the door where the hinges are. A guard, Mr. Wright, closed the door on his hand, cutting it and breaking bones. I asked Mr. Wright about it and he said he did not do it out of malicious intent. I was working as SSI all day and had to clean up all the blood that was in the cell. A Sergeant came and told Mr. Wright that he should be careful what he says in his report, and ripped it up, and all morning the Sergeant helped him cover up the incident.

From around 8am to 2:30pm I was out cleaning pod. I cleaned isolation cells at 8am and again around 2pm on 8/14/2013. I heard them talk about it all morning. They disrespect us, harm us, and when they do something to us they high five each other. Their actions to fib on reports are backed up by each other. How to ever catch them to tell the truth is a major problem.

I am at a unit that violates multiple policies of its own. It hides its actions and harms us in many ways. I started looking into the rules and I am really not surprised at what I found. I have seen them handcuff and beat one prisoner and they later on pepper sprayed another for having his jacket on at pill call. I have filed multiple grievances and have received no answer. We can't defend ourselves at all without double punishment due to the guards being one solid group that high five each other after they beat us down. They do such mean things to us and get away with it. These officials go out of their way to do mean things to us. We are held in isolation for months even years even though we have not broken any rules. How far must we bend before we get help from outside?

One mailroom worker made sexual advances and I knew it was a setup so I filed a grievance and sent a statement to the warden. A captain came and I refused to be forced to write a statement for him so I wrote him up. On the grievance response it stated that my verbal statement was different than my written statement. But I gave no verbal statement. The grievance investigator did not even investigate.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This prisoner is right that catching the guards and exposing the truth is a major problem. This is part of the important role played by Under Lock & Key: providing a forum to expose guard brutality and abuse. By documenting these incidents we can show that they are not just individual cases, but a systematic part of the criminal injustice system, and something that we must fight as a whole. Write to us with details about abuse in your prison.

To help fight the grievance system, which denies prisoner's an avenue to appeal injustice and guard abuse, get involved in our campaign to demand grievances be addressed. There is already a petition for Texas, and petitions exist for many other states as well. If we don't have a petition for your state we can send you a generic petition which you can customize for your state.

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[Hunger Strike] [Calipatria State Prison] [California]
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Calipatria Hunger Strikers United for Week Long Protest

I'm writing to report on the hunger strike from Calipatria State Prison. Everyone here on the facility showed their support. Not all of us agreed on the tactics that some chose to pursue but nonetheless we all participated. Some people refused to go to work while others chose only not to accept food. Everyone who chose not to go to work received write ups (CDCR 115) for refusing to work and participation in security threat group (STG) activity. So now those people have STG points against them. Some guys were trying to force everyone not to work but calmer heads prevailed and they allowed people to make the choice themselves.

Out of the 850 prisoners on this yard, at least 700 participated. It only lasted for a week. The staff passed out a flyer on what can happen medically to a person who goes without food for long periods of time. They sent the nurse from door to door asking if people were alright but it didn't get to the point where they had to start weighing people.

A lot of questions are now being asked like what did that accomplish? Although we had a high level of participation we had no one to actually explain what the strike was for or what are the goals we are trying to accomplish. Most guys just get involved because they were told to. The people who are socially conscious and politically conscious didn't want to speak up for fear of being labeled as inciting the strike which will land you in the SHU. A lot of guys who have been down for 30 years have been broken and refuse to stand up to the administration.

All in all we here at Calipatria showed our support until next time.


MIM(Prisons) responds:First let us recognize what this comrade said about prisoners receiving STG points against them for a peaceful refusal to eat or go to work. This is what the CDCR is using to label people a Security Threat Group member and put them in torture units for years or even decades - the main thing that the strike is protesting in the first place! Such outrageous injustice should fuel the struggle for basic humyn rights in Calipatria.

Second, let's acknowledge the amazing accomplishment of having 700 out 850 prisoners participate in a united action that was part of a planned strategic approach towards change in the interests of all prisoners. This is historic, and it is happening all over California!

That said, the masses are correct to ask, "What did this accomplish?"
This report exposes the importance of building political consciousness and educating our comrades behind bars both before and during protest actions. We must build leadership to ensure that the political message of these protests is effectively conveyed, both to those participating and to the target of our protests.

Of course, the application of leadership in such closely monitored conditions should be done cautiously as the comrades in Calipatria did. Materials like Under Lock & Key can be tools for spreading education and providing leadership. But even then we face censorship, and prisoners get written up just for possessing literature, which presumably was given to them by prison mail staff in the first place. The solutions to this are tactical questions that should be part of the sum up of the experiences in California prisons this summer. As the masses are struggling for answers, now is the time to step in and have these discussions however you can in your locality. What is the opinion of the actions? What do people think should have been done differently? How did leadership fail, and how could you build differently in the future? If you come up with universal conclusions send them to us to share, however as conditions vary over time and place, most of these conversations should be applied locally.

On the large scale we can make a few points. First, the strike was about ending conditions of torture in California prisons, in particular in the long-term isolation units (SHU, ASU, etc.). And the strike continues with almost 300 people having not eaten for over 40 days according to the CDCR, and an unknown number of others still participating who are not being counted. So the struggle continues there.

If comrades in Calipatria are asking what their one-week actions accomplished, we encourage them to look back at the agreement to end hostilities and the United Front for Peace in Prisons statement on page 2 of Under Lock & Key that were used to form a basis for the massive support seen this time around. The goals of these projects are to unite prisoners around their mutual interests as prisoners and prevent the state from pitting them against each other as a form of social control. We hope that comrades in Calipatria were inspired by the tremendous level of solidarity this author reports on. There are many ways to build on this unity through things such as study groups, health campaigns, literacy programs, and other forms of mutual support. In our own work we model such programs after the Black Panthers and Chinese Serve the People Programs, which had the purpose of providing for survival needs pending revolution.

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[Organizing] [North Branch Correctional Institution] [Maryland] [ULK Issue 34]
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Maryland Prisoners Commemorating September 9th

I will be fasting this September 9. I've been on lockup since 2011 but I will refuse my trays from midnight to midnight Sept 9, 2013 to pay homage to the fallen brothers of the cause in Attica and everywhere else! And I will encourage other brothers to do so as well.

The pigs decided to give us showers today. They are walking each cell to the shower individually. Three pigs for one inmate, one of which is holding an assault rifle looking gun that shoots paintballs of mace. Cowards!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this comrade for stepping up to the United Front for Peace in Prisons call for a solidarity demonstration on September 9th after reading only one issue of Under Lock & Key. We would not call the pigs cowards for their vast outnumbering and assault weapon use with prisoners: this is realistic fear of the power of the oppressed. Right now we don't have the level of unity in the prisons to present more than sporadic points of resistance, but the very event this comrade mentions, the Attica uprising, demonstrates the potential power of prisoners when acting in unity. This unity is built through struggle and discussion, something that is much easier when prisoners have contact with one another. And for this reason, this active prisoner, and tens of thousands of others, are on lockup in isolation cells, being kept from contact with others so that they can not spread the dangerous ideology of unity and peace among prisoners.

We have received word from another comrade in Maryland that others are participating in this 24 hour fast on September 9th to commemorate the Attica brothers unity and organization.

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[Hunger Strike] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Medical Neglect as Another Hunger Striker Goes Down

On July 19th I was escorted to the medical clinic to request liquid nutrients, vitamins and proper directions on the re-feeding process after hunger strike. I was denied all requests. I was specifically told by nursing staff that CDCR officials have told all medical staff not to intervene in the on-goings of hunger strike patients until otherwise directed. I continued to request said items during daily nurse/medical rounds for the days leading up to July 21st only to be denied with some sort of unprofessional response.

On July 21, during my allotted rec time my body shut down. I fell, hitting my head on the concrete and knocking myself unconscious for at least two minutes. I was brought to the emergency prison hospital and once again provided with inadequate medical care. After blood/urine/vitals samples and testing I was told there was the possibility of death if I were to continue hunger strike for 24 hours. I obviously requested liquid nutrients/vitamins/etc. And I was denied. I was told by the doctor that CDCR officials are not letting med staff intervene in hunger strike participants and was told to go back to cell with no medical help.

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[Hunger Strike] [Mental Health] [Martinez Detention Facility - Contra Costa County Jail] [California] [ULK Issue 34]
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Debating Mental Health Treatment in Ad-Seg

[In response to the article MIM(Prisons) printed about the Martinez hunger strike demands, calling on prisoners there not to isolate the "mental health" prisoners from the "non-mental health" prisoners, we received the following update and clarification.]

Maybe we were not clear on the housing of mental health prisoners here in Ad-Seg. Our point is that there is an entire module for mental health prisoners where they can get help for their issues with trained staff. There is no mental health staff stationed in Ad-Seg, and no groups or therapy for prisoners. Bottom line is, mental health prisoners should not be housed in Ad-Seg on the whims of classification unit. Yes these guys are a headache to have in Ad-Seg, but more importantly they receive no help and deteriorate further by being warehoused in Ad-Seg. We are not trying to cause division in the prison population.

There are 53 inmates housed in Ad-Seg here. 13 prisoners did a 24 hour support strike while 5 of us continued for 6 to 12 days. We continue to support all those still on strike. Our strike is suspended, not stopped. If we do not continue to move forward in our demands or we come to a place in time when it is warranted, then we will continue our strike.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter addresses our criticism of the demand by MDF prisoners to "immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice and unofficial policy of improperly housing inmates with mental health issues among the non-mental-health-status Ad-Seg detainees" as unnecessarily divisive. The original demand complained of the disruptive behaviors from the mental health prisoners but did not mention the lack of treatment options for these individuals. If conditions are better in the mental health module, it would be an improvement for these individuals to escape Ad-Seg and be placed there. However, the "treatment" for people with mental health problems in the United $tates is, at best, a targeting of the symptoms, and at worst leaves people either physically or medically restrained in a drug-induced stupor.

Mental illness in prisoners can often be linked to the conditions in which they are housed, especially long-term isolation. So we are naturally skeptical of any treatment offered by those same captors who insist on locking people up in conditions that induce the health problems in the first place. But we appreciate the additional explanation that the MDF prisoners did not intend the demand for mental health prisoners to be divisive but rather targeted treatment for these individuals. We hope they will consider carefully the wording of such demands in the future.

In the short term, we know that capitalism will continue to produce new cases of mental illness which can not be successfully treated until we address the problems of a society that generates these illnesses. We look to China under Mao for an example of successful treatment of mental health conditions by addressing both the immediate problems and the systemic roots of these conditions.

Meanwhile, the comrades in Martinez are not the only ones on suspended hunger strike. A number of comrades have reported a willingness to restart in support of the five core demands as the struggle heightens.

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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Fight or Flight


Here's a gun now shoot that
bum. Now here's another senseless
crime. Death by ignorance. We
continue to kill for colors and blocks,
drugs and shoes. But not the
imperialist fools who really own
the hoods and goods. Black on
Black, white on black. Damn who's
my friend and who's my foe.
In prison they say strip and dip
to check our ass holes. But we so stupid
for not choking this asshole for
taking our freedom. Death, death
death all around me. Drugs and
guns. AIDs ain't fun. Money is
low so I rob a store. Dumb
fuck now you locked up and
still broke as a joke and sprung
on coke. Join the party and take a
stand for your rights. Be a sport
and support a righteous cause,
a Maoist cause. Struggle is a
must, to rid the dust of the
imperialist fuss. So catch a tune
an' bring these united snakes to
doom. Let's break free the enslavement
and get back our sanity.
Let's shout for the communist
movement and stand up to
fight. The cold punches of the
racist pigs you dig, fight or
flight.

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[California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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Day 30 Hunger Strike Update from San Quentin

As day 30 of our hunger strike comes to an end with nothing being resolved it was good to hear that our plight is being heard and shared out there. Also it strengthens us to hear all the b.s. that our captors are doing just to discourage us. Yet, many of us have learned from prior experience that they would stop at nothing to quiet down our movement. Despite it all we continue with it all.

The recent update is that close to 50 remain and almost all of us, except a small number, have gone "man down" and taken to be placed on IV support in the infirmary here. Only to be brought back a few hours later, feeling a little better and continuing on (in agony) on hunger strike. Though we've received promises of change, we have yet to see anything on paper. Until then we shall continue, I just hope no more have to perish because these captors refuse to be human.

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[Hunger Strike] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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Hunger Strike Day 23 Report from San Quentin

On 7/30/13 (day 23 of the hunger strike) at approximately 1pm, prisoners on my tier began alerting adjustment center custody staff that one of the hunger strike participants was unresponsive. Prisoners kept yelling "man down, man down!" and banging on their doors until a goon squad was formed. One member of that goon squad was Officer Persaud, who sarcastically ordered the semi-conscious man down to come to the door and cuff up. During this potentially life threatening delay, the man down actually found strength to get his hands behind his back and through the solid door's food port. The prisoner reports he was then held by his wrists and then by the cuff chain as a mechanical issue getting the cell door to open ensued. Ultimately Persaud let go of the cuff chain and the prisoner then explains he fell face first into the concrete floor. The door was finally opened and the goon squad stormed in as if pouncing, ordering the prisoner to stand up.

The same day a second man down situation followed, with a similar response. Custody staff are expressing blatant resentment and disrespect toward participants in the hunger strike. It is my suggestion to those pigs that if their current job is not to their liking they should go back to "Bob's Burgers" or convince their torture unit overlords to grant the reasonable requests for basic human needs set for in the open letter, instead of throwing vigilante green wall style shit fits.

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[ALKQN/PLF] [Campaigns] [United Front]
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LK Leader Calls for Unity

I am sending my revolutionary greetings to you in Black & Gold. I am an enforcer of the Latin Kings and I am extending an invitation to all Latino inmates to join forces with us to protect one another against all forms of aggression and discrimination. We should build solidarity and unity in a united struggle against this system of oppression. We must fight for our civil and human rights. I am encouraging you to unite with the ALKQN in our United Front against the capitali$t Imperiali$t United Slaves of Amerika. We should join MIM(Prisons)'s United Struggle from Within and start study groups.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We welcome this comrade's support for United Front work against imperialism. This statement echoes the call to Build a United Front for Peace in Prisons, which was first initiated in 2011. A number of organizations and individuals have signed on to the United Front, and we encourage the ALKQN organization as a whole to take the leadership to a bigger stage and formally become a signatory to the UFPP. We believe that the politically conscious leaders of the ALKQN, including this writer, agree with the five principles of the UFPP: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, and Independence. And for the leadership of large organizations such as the ALKQN to come together and declare to the membership that these are core principles of their LO will send a powerful message to individuals and other LOs across the country.

For those interested in joining the United Front for Peace in Prisons, send your organization's name and a statement of unity to MIM(Prisons). Your statement can explain what the united front principles mean to your organization, how they relate to your work, why they are important, etc.

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[Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [Upstate Correctional Facility] [Auburn Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 34]
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New York Prisoners Strike, Support California Struggle

16 July 2013 - I would like the brothers in the struggle to be aware that their movement is being felt all the way on the east coast. As you are aware I was last at Auburn Korrectional Facility. I was put in the box and given a 180 day sentence for rallying 22 other komrades on this end to go on a food strike in support of our brothers out west. It got so bad that 8 of us were held in the kamp's hospital and a court order was given to force feed us. I just got out of the hospital yesterday and I have restarted my strike along with the other 7 brothers I spoke of.

The pigs have violated our property and they have destroyed our books, including my Afrikana, Assata, and my Black's laws dictionary that my dad bought for me before he died. To make things even worse they destroyed my pictures, including a lot of my parents who are both in the essence now. I don't have any family outside these walls, so my komrads (and a deep seeded hatred of how these pink pigs treat us) are all I have.

I wanted you to print this in your next issue because I know how them brothers are struggling and they may think that they are in it by themselves. But I want them to know that they have some real militant brothers who have lost a lot now to join them in their struggle. There are only 7 others with me out of the 22 of us who put this thing into effect over here. The rest of my komrades have been scattered in other koncentration kamps. New York State has about 65 prisons from maximum security, which we are in, to minimums. What I do know is that we are on watch and soon will be whisked away where these pigs will fill us up intravenously so they can say they care. But we will continue our movement on y'all behalf until we hear or read that y'all have received the basic necessities in which you are fighting for.


MIM(Prisons) adds: While they are no doubt facing significant repression and conditions that merit struggle in New York, these comrades have stepped up to fight on behalf of the hunger striking prisoners in California. This prisoner and his comrades demonstrate the important principals of unity and self-sacrifice that are so critical to building the communist movement. While we frequently appeal to prisoners' self-interest in calling them to action, when this self-interest in aligned with the interests of the anti-imperialist movement, ultimately communists will act without regard for self-interest, in the service of the oppressed.

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