The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Economics]
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Criminalizing Defendants for Inability to Pay Court Fees

A couple weeks ago National Public Radio (NPR) aired a series called "guilty and charged" that talked about the way states are charging defendants and even criminalizing them for not paying court fees.

The series followed and interviewed different people who were caught in this cycle of repetitive imprisonment. A couple of facts are worth mentioning, particularly that in New Jersey 4,000 people surrendered themselves to pay for fines. That is, they got arrested for a misdemeanor and can't pay court fees so they get issued a warrant for their arrest. These charges can be settled with a reduced payment or a couple months in jail.

In essence the poor are being not only criminalized and imprisoned for being poor but punished by an injustice system that is not blind! Forty-one states now charge room and board for people in county jails, forty-three states charge a defendant for a public defender. In a supposed democracy where everyone is equal before the law, this is not only a complete farce but a system put in place to check oppressed nations, and more so poor people of oppressed nations. Although mention was given how in 40 years the prison population has boomed 400% and the rise can be attributed to Richard Nixon in the 70s for his "war on drugs," there was not much content on how there is a political context to this high incarceration of oppressed nations.

It's no secret that the poor and marginalized will have a harder time paying court fees, and as mentioned earlier, oppressed Blacks and Latinos are most likely to end up incarcerated, furthering a system of criminalization.

Most oppressed nations know first hand the injustice system in the United $tates. As there is no profit from imprisonment to U.$. imperialism, the rise of imprisonment is not for profits but for political reasons. The high cost of imprisonment is taking its toll on the department of justice, county jails and tax payers. It's likely that defendants will be charged more and penalized even more for not being able to pay these charges.

While agitation, protest and attention should be given to combat this issue along with a long list of other "wrongs," a reformist attitude wil only go so far. People should get into a movement to overthrow this imperialist system and install a more just society in a socialist manner.

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[Organizing] [Ironwood State Prison] [California]
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Pigs Endanger Safety and Security of Institution, Put Lives of Prisoners at Risk

"Everyone should know by now that prison is politics, it is part of the imperialistic policy of exploitation, oppression and domination over the internal colonies." From "Who are the Political Prisoners?," MIM Theory 11: Amerikkan Prisons On Trial

The pigs at Ironwood State Prison are at it again. Bored with the apparent lack of excitement and disturbances at this relatively peaceful and quiet yard, they have decided to manufacture their own entertainment to the detriment of the imprisoned. Within the span of two short days the pigs here have decided to raid people's houses without any kind of factual proof but only unfounded allegations from "anonymous" sources and supposed "snitches." To understand the actions of the past week however I must first recount the actions of a couple months ago.

It all began when pigs from Ironwood's Special Investigative Unit raided the cell of a born-again Christian in the early hours before breakfast because they'd supposedly received an anonymous kite stating that the Christian was going to stab a Corrections Officer. The Christian was taken to the hole pending investigation and everyone here was left somewhat surprised at this news, as everyone who knew this guy knew that he'd long since left the lumpen lifestyle behind and was only concerned with helping people out. Anyways, after finally getting out of the hole because the investigation turned up nothing, he confided in a couple people that on the day he went to the hole the pigs showed him a picture of another prisoner and asked him if he knew who this persyn was. He lied and told them he didn't, to which they responded, "that's the person who told on you."

Fast-forward to last week when two pigs unexpectedly ran to a cell and ordered the two cellmates to step out. When they asked the pigs what for, they were told not to worry about it and just step out. When the prisoners refused, the pigs immediately pulled out their batons and ordered them a third time to step out. Feeling threatened the prisoners complied. Once in restraints and out of their cell the prisoners were taken to the pigs' local command post on the yard, A-Facility program office. Once there the prisoners were stripped naked and put into holding cages where they were accused of making wine and subsequently treated to verbal assaults. Both prisoners denied the allegations, which proved to be false as the pigs searched and tossed up their cell and found nothing.

As a result the pigs had no choice but to let them go, but not before showing them the pictures of a couple other prisoners. The pigs then asked them if they knew who those two people were, and they said they didn't and were then cut loose. However, after returning to their building they started telling everyone what had happened and that the two prisoners who were in their building had snitched. Tension began to rise and it looked as if people were beginning to take sides preparing for the worst. In the end however, cooler heads prevailed and crisis was averted between the New Afrikan and [email protected] population, as these were the two nations being pitted against each other by the pigs' actions. And even though I started out this story by saying that this is something of a peaceful yard, at the end of the day it's still a prison and things happen.

The very next day almost the same scenario played out when ten or fifteen pigs rushed another person's cell and forced him out the same way they done to those other prisoners the night before. Again, just as the previous night the pigs said they were looking for wine, and just like the night before they found nothing. As the pigs were exiting this person's cell however they told him to thank the prisoners who'd gotten their cell searched the night before for their visit, thereby implying that those prisoners were somehow responsible.

These events from last week caused me to think deeper about the pigs' actions, as well as the prisoners' response to them and I'd like to discuss it here. Now, before jumping to conclusions because you took a pig at his/her word like most who are confronted with this scenario often do, why don't we first stop and actually think about what's really going on? The real issue in the examples given above aren't about who supposedly snitched on who, but about the motivation that the pigs have in exposing their supposed informants to us. Let us hypothesize that in all the examples given above the pigs were actually telling the truth and the people identified by them in their pictures were really snitching, what then? Should we handle our business in keeping with prison etiquette or do we conduct our own investigation in an effort to get to the truth?

Instead of just smashing on the alleged rat because a pig told us to, why not at least confront this person with the information given to us by the pigs and ask him if it's true before smutting him up? As a matter of fact, since when is a pig's word even worth anything?

You can even go further than this and tell this person exactly what the pigs told you and if he denies it then we can offer to file some kind of paperwork together against that very same pig. Whether it be thru your local grievance procedure or thru the courts, put it on paper and put the pigs on blast. This way there will be documentation which shows how these pigs are putting the lives of prisoners at risk; either because you mistakenly assaulted another prisoner due to a pig manipulating you or because the person in question was really a snitch - it doesn't matter!

Stop blindly taking the pigs at their word and doing their bidding, otherwise you're just a sucker who'll believe anything, as well as a tool of the establishment. We should strive to create unity out of the pigs' attempts to divide us. Turn their divide-and-conquer tactics against them and UNITE! These actions on our part could potentially have a two-fold outcome beneficial to us. First, if the pigs see that we're no longer biting into their little games they might stop baiting us, and secondly, if the rats know the pigs are giving them up and you're gonna confront them then they might think twice about telling, thereby reducing any additional oppression of all prisoners concerned. This way bad things can be turned into good.

I know that many reading this are probably laughing and thinking it's a joke, and yes to a certain degree what I'm proposing is somewhat ideal, but the harm we keep inflicting on each other is not. The possibility of creating a United Front becomes less viable without finding ways to settle contradictions amongst ourselves without resorting to violence, and we must begin somewhere.

As such, within the prison realm there are generally two different types of social contradictions: those between ourselves and the pigs and those among the prisoners themselves. The two are totally different in nature, and since they are different in nature the contradictions between ourselves and the pigs and those among the prisoners themselves should be resolved thru different methods. In order to resolve the very many contradictions that inevitably arise among ourselves we should look to the methods of discussion, of criticism, of persuasion and education, and not the methods of coercion or repression, i.e. violence. This way we can arrive at a new unity with these unstable prison elements on a new basis and against the real enemy.

Now, for those of you still reading this and still wondering if the people pointed out by the pigs were really snitches, that I don't know. What I do know however is that one of the supposed "rats" is constantly pushing paperwork against the pigs on a variety of issues which concern the prisoner population. While one of the other prisoners involved recently go this life sentence commuted to a lesser term after serving almost twenty years; the pigs knew this and didn't like it.

These pigs don't care about us and it doesn't matter to them what inmates are "snitches" and what inmates are "solid". To them we're all just prisoners and the same. Perhaps we should take that as a lesson and start looking at each other as one.

To all those people who are really snitching, start showing some self-respect and stop harming the people you should be working with to unite against the pigs. If you can't stop telling them, at least tell on a pig and not another prisoner. For everyone else, stop being a pawn to these pigs and at least conduct your own investigation before erroneously labeling someone a snitch, smutting him up and getting him or yourself hurt. You never know, next time the pigs might flash your picture to someone and call YOU the snitch.

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[Middle East] [Militarism] [ULK Issue 40]
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Reject the I$raeli Settler State, Support the People of Palestine

Solidarity against imperialism

Over the past few weeks many of us locked up within Amerikkka's prisons have watched, read and heard about the genocidal war crimes currently being committed against the oppressed nation of Palestine by the white settler state of I$rael. What these events show us is not only the carnage and slaughter of a one-sided war, but that the oppressed will never be free to forge their own destinies so long as the monster of imperialism remains intact.

With forked tongues like the pit of vipers that they are, the United Nations (UN) sits idly by and does virtually nothing to help the people of Palestine as the Zionist regime attempts to bomb them out of existence. The so-called "international community" does nothing for Palestine other than speak hypocritically about the need for a cease fire on both ends and the continued need for a two-state solution, as if the mounting deaths (1,432 deaths as of today)(1) and the balance of war was even! Even as the world watches complacent and content through their pacifist, non-interventionist actions, and some begin to complain about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths, the United $tates continues to arm I$rael. The worthless UN has thus shown its true color: yellow! The international community is guilty of complicity thru complacency, thus Palestinian blood is also on the hands of the United Nations.

As prisoners of good conscience we reject the genocide and slaughter which has hystorically been imposed on the people of Palestine and which is currently being played out by the Jewish state ever since the creation of I$rael in 1948. And while the Amerikan imperialists and their general citizenry and population have found us guilty of crimes against civil society, we prisoners likewise find them guilty of crimes against humynity for their collusion with the state of Israel to exterminate the Palestinian nation.

Within these walls we are as yet powerless to tap into the potential of the imprisoned lumpen, but we are not yet powerless to sign a piece of paper to denounce the state of Israel and their support in the United $tates. Therefore with this declaration we angrily express our indignation with the state of Israel for committing genocide, and the Israeli people for allowing it to happen in the 21st century after vowing "never again."

Furthermore, with this declaration we express our concern, condolences, solidarity and humynity with the people of Palestine. We grieve your loss. I$rael must pay! Just as Palestinian prisoners of war showed their support and solidarity with the California hunger strikers by issuing a statement of solidarity to end solitary confinement in the United $tates, we must now do the same. We must recognize and acknowledge that their struggle is our struggle and we must say no to I$rael and no to the genocide of Palestine.

Long live the people of Palestine!
Down with I$rael!
Charge and convict the war criminals!
Free Palestine!


Note: The World Lead with Jake Tapper, CNN, 7/31/2014

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[Abuse] [Texas] [ULK Issue 40]
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Texas Prisons Kill People with Heat

Mouth Sewn Shut
"The mission of the Institutional Division is to provide safe and appropriate confinement, supervision, rehabilitation, and reintegration of adult felons, and to effectively manage or administer correctional facilities based on constitutional and statutory standards" - Texas Government Code 494.001

For those of us housed within the prisons operated by the Texas Department of Criminal inJustice (TDCJ) we know this statement is nothing more than well-worded lies!

Recently the University of Texas - Human Rights Clinic came out with a report "Deadly Heat in Texas Prisons." The report pretty much proves what many of the lumpen already know: conditions inside Texas prisons in the summer violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. TDCJ keeps telling the public they have policies in place to combat the heat. However, Brian McGiverin, a lawyer with the Texas Civil Rights Project, said during a news conference on the topic, "Fourteen inmate deaths are strong evidence the prison agency's measures don't do enough to beat the heat's health risks." He continued, "The response that their policies are adequate today is ridiculous."

Senator John Whitmire, the chairman of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, had this to say on the topic: "But I can tell you, the people of Texas don't want air-conditioned prisons, and there's a lot of other things on my list above the heat." The "other things" were education, health care, and rehabilitation programs, but never has this racist pontificator said he was committed to ceasing the senseless murder of Texas prisoners by TDCJ employees! Whitmire, who has been in the Texas senate over 30 years, continues to turn a blind eye to the systemic abuse and discrimination of prisoners housed in TDCJ facilities. We suffer from racial discrimination, religious discrimination, sexual assaults, vicious beatings and abuse, and Whitmire continues to play good ol' boy politics.

For complaints on specific prison issues I found a strategy that's been working. I've been having family members file Ombudsman complaints via email. They can file formal public complaints on a wide range of issues and these complaints must be placed online for the public to view. We have been experiencing a lot of success! All that PO Box 99 shit to Huntsville is a waste of paper and time. Do it online and put these assholes on Front Street.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is just one example of the rampant abuse of prisoners in Texas and across the country, that is well documented and exposed in ULK and on our prisoncensorship.org website. But we aim to do more than just expose the brutality of the Amerikan criminal injustice system. Our goal is to organize and educate to make meaningful change. In the short term we fight battles like the campaign to have prisoners' grievances addressed so that we can create better conditions for our comrades behind bars. But in the long term we know that no Amerikan politician is ever going to fundamentally change the system of injustice. It will take the oppressed joining together to demand change to put an end to imperialism before we can hope to end the criminal injustice system. Get involved in this long-term fight today!

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[Abuse] [Religious Repression] [Texas]
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Federal Judge Exposes Discrimination Against Muslims Held Captive in Texas Prisons

Hang DOC KKK
In a much-anticipated ruling, Federal District Judge Kenneth Hoyt struck down Texas Deparmment of Criminal inJustice's (TDCJ) attempt to terminate the Brown vs. Beto consent decree. The Brown vs. Beto case goes back to 1969 and it stemmed from a federal action brought by a TDCJ prisoner, Bobby Brown, who fought hard against the racist oppressors in Texas who would unmercifully beat any prisoner who declared himself a Muslim. At the time Brown was a member of the Nation of Islam (NOI) and it was members of the NOI and Fruit of Islam who provided material support, legal support, and physical security to Brown and other Muslim prisoners who were victims of religious discrimination and racial hate. It is noteworthy to mention that even in the year 2014 over 95% of the Muslims in TDCJ are New Afrikans (Black). There is a racist dynamic to Texas's ongoing oppression of Muslim prisoners.

The Brown vs. Beto consent decree was put in effect in 1977 and it provided a wide array of rules and policies geared toward destroying any obstacles to Texas prisoners' right to practice Islam if they hoose. In 2012 under the auspices of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, TDCJ and the state of Texas petitioned the court in an effort to terminate Brown claiming they had policies in place which provided ample opportunities for Muslim prisoners to practice their faith. This was a lie and a ruse concocted by the racist oppressors to show onlookers an illusion of freedom. In reality, TDCJ has established rules and policies which infringe grossly upon Muslim prisoners' right to practice. We are monitored as if we all are potential terrorists; our visitors and volunteers are harassed and overly scrutinized; TDCJ Correctional Officers regularly disrespect the Muslims and bait them in physical and verbal confrontations. This is the reality on the ground!

However, the main point Judge Hoyt made in his ruling was that TDCJ has purposely constructed rules which made it impossible for Muslims in Texas prisons to practice. Moreover, he stated the agency has established a practice throughout the system where they show preferential treatment to Christian prisoners while marginalizing, ridiculing, and obstructing Muslims from practicing their religion. All this amounts to a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. Judge Hoyt ruled that Brown will remain intact and told them to make the necessary changes ASAP.

Instead of rectifying the problems in Texas state Attorney General Gregg Abbott is ordering an appeal of the judge's ruling. So there is an overt collusive effort by the Attorney General and the Executive Directory of TDCJ to violate Muslims' U.S. constitutional rights. This is the type of violation the Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division is supposed to protect U.$. citizens from suffering, yet they have hesitated to get involved! It reminds me of that young Black man who got beat in the face with a hammer by Georgia prison guards. We must come to the understanding that these imperialists, whether they be white or Black, Democrat or Republican, do not have a vested interest in the lumpen underclass who are trapped in Amerikkka's Gulags.

I can not tell you how many grievances I have written citing Religious Discrimination and they have come back with that same old bullshit reply: no policy violated, no further action warranted! And the entire time these racist oppressors were violating my constitutional rights! This once again highlights the corruption and hypocrisy of TDCJ! This grievance program in Texas is a sham and a farce.

I urge all of you reading this piece to join United Struggle from Within, and fight these racists! Expose the abuse, murders, and violation of civil and humyn rights. We must make a collective push to call for an all-out investigation of TDCJ and the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee as they too are culpable in the rampant, systemic, and pervasive abuse of Texas prisoners.Comrades, I want you to understand that racism is a byproduct of capitalism/imperialism. Unifying in order to smash imperialism provides a serious blow to racism. Texas as a whole is an imperialist stronghold and the overt racism that exists throughout the state is a testimony to that!

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[United Front] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California] [ULK Issue 40]
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United the Power of the People Can Defeat the CDCR

USW SNY

I'm checking in from RJ Donovan Correctional Facility in California, where the conditions of confinement are getting harder and harder to tolerate. Here there are a few comrades in the administrative segregation unit (ASU) from both sides of the prison system, mainline as well as Special Needs Yards (SNY), studying and struggling together to overcome the oppression of being punished for submitting inmate appeals.

The pigs that run this unit are giving the prisoners who stand up for their rights half issues of already substandard meals. They also move us from cell to cell at least five or six times a month, and always into a cell with someone who is mentally challenged and disruptive. Some cells are painted with human defecation and urine, and the staff doesn't bother to clean them or provide any cleaning supplies. Some comrades have been physically attacked and have had their personal property passed out to the rats and snitches.

While these are not infrequent unconstitutional violations here, most of the prisoners are afraid to speak up. The theory and actions these officers display is truly terroristic in nature, and the officials allow them to act with impunity.

So I have made it my mission to lead as well as organize and participate in a campaign to stop these abuses here and wherever my feet touch behind these walls. These abuses range from stealing our personal property to creating false charges against us, from denying pens and forms to withholding our mail and yard time, while they sit in the dayroom and eat the state issue items missing from our lunches and dinners.

On a better note, our study group is up to ten in just one week as the brothers of all races and both sides hear us dialogue about the commonality of our situation. Like the brother in ULK 33, I too am SNY and I know there are good strong comrades over here on this side. What people don't understand is that a lot of youngsters have a theory that older brothers "are like leaves on trees" meaning the older ones have to be knocked off so new leaves can grow. This is wrong thinking and a self-defeating tactic.

It's hard for me to understand how some people are fighting to end oppression and hate, knowing the role that the media plays in it all, and then they allow a designation of SNY by the statesman architect of hate and repression to separate us because we'd rather leave our organization and have a chance at parole than stay and end up taking a young brother's life.

I spent 15 years in the prison system of the 80s and 90s. I've done my dirt, put in my work. I'm not an animal who just follows his base instincts. I'm a leader and I'm standing for all these brothers who put their faith in my leadership. A true leader will never send one of his warriors to do battle while he stays behind. Further I stand on the ten point program established by the Black Panther Party and we hold the principles of Under Lock & Key to be of the utmost import.

I truly believe in what the Black Panther Party said when they stated that the power of the people is greater than man's technology. But the people's power has to be organized. As the Vietnamese people, who began their war for liberation with only bows and arrows, we must begin ours with pen and paper. And just as they defeated the most powerful military on earth, with determination, internationalist politics and organization by all oppressed people inside and outside these walls we'll be victorious as well.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We have published a number of articles on the debate over SNY prisoners and we stand with this comrade in arguing that solid anti-imperialist comrades can be found on SNY yards. We look at someone's history of political work and political line rather than the label that the administration gives them. This comrade's call for unity is in line with the United Front for Peace in Prisons which brings together individuals and groups behind bars to build peace and unity against the common enemy of the criminal injustice system.

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[Middle East]
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Savage Inequalities for Palestine

With the ongoing fighting in the occupied territory of Palestine (Gaza) the death toll rises on both sides. However, there's a savage lopsidedness to it as the Palestinians take the toll of death. Even more savagely is its children and civilians taking the carnage of indiscriminate bombs being dropped by Israel.

In the face of this fighting, U.$. Secretary of State John Kerry gave a press conference in which he more or less stated that, "there can be no meaningful peace without the disarmament of Hamas." Not only is this hypocritical but who in their right mind will lay down what arms they have when faced with an enemy that not only has a standing army but an air force, navy, special forces and drones which lend an uneven hand to the fighting. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) have stated that they will not stop until all of Hamas's underground tunnels are destroyed.

More to this unevenness and inequality is the rhetoric spewing from I$raeli and Amerikan media that Hamas is terrorist and is causing the suffering of the Palestinian people. As if Hamas was the one dropping hundreds of bombs from helicopters and jets. Israel is a settler nation and therefore will stop at nothing to see the destruction of Palestine and the ceasing of resistance from the people.

The resistance of the Palestinian people is not without precedent. History has shown what nations that occupy a territory will do: slaughter and genocide of the occupied nation. All media pundits say that I$rael has the right to defend itself, however what about Palestine?


MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this comrade that oppressed nations have the right to defend themselves against imperialist agressors. Though we would go even further and say that those oppressed nations don't stand a chance at independence until we can take on the imperialists themselves. The imperialists will not allow individual nations self-determination and independence, even if those nations try to exist without threatening imperialism. Cuba provides a good example of this. But imperialism is building its own demise by putting the majority of the world's people in the camp of oppressed and exploited, with a material interest in overthrowing imperialism. One at a time nations will gain independence, and united these nations will take on imperialism globally.

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[Aztlan/Chicano] [Culture]
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World Cup Distinguished Chicanos from Amerikans

Although the World Cup has been over for some time I feel compelled to comment on Mexico's national team.

When Mexico beat Croatia to make it to the round of 16 there were "disturbances" in Los Angeles. As Los Angeles has a high concentration of people who see themselves as Mexicans and not Amerikans, this goes to show that there is a separate, oppressed nation in the United $tates.

But this disturbance alone doesn't prove this. As J. Stalin said, "A nation is formed only as a result of lengthy and systematic intercourse, as a result of the fact that people live together from generation to generation. But people cannot live together for lengthy periods unless they have a common territory."

Mexicans in the United $tates, and especially in California, are distinct from Amerikans as well as from their relatives in Mexico. As Latinos are becoming the largest population in the United $tates it's even more important that a national party be formed to better serve the Latino nation, as the United $tates is incapable and incompetent to serve the needs of the Latino people in North America.

Note: MIM Theory #7, p. 49.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this comrade that there is a separate nation within U.$. borders that is comprised of the primarily indigenous people of what was northern Mexico, and includes many descended from immigrants from Latin America as well. Though it is far more complicated than just some World Cup festivities, this comrade is correct that we can see evidence of the separate nation in many areas of culture. We have come to call this nation the [email protected] nation, and this is the subject of a book that is scheduled to be released at the end of 2014: Chicano Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. Write to us to get on the list for a copy of this important book.

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[Campaigns] [Download and Print] [Abuse] [United Struggle from Within] [Oregon]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Oregon

Oregon Grievance Petition
Click to download a PDF
of the Oregon grievance petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with the grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Director of the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC)
2575 Center Street
Salem, OR 97301

U.S. Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, PHB
Washington DC 20530

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
PO Box 9778
Arlington, VA 22219

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

*PDF updated May 2012, July 2012, July 2014, and October 2017*

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[Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 39]
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Response to Texas Petitions Falling on Deaf Ears

I read over the letter from our Polunsky comrades. This is what I recommend. Often it helps to attach an I-60 with your Step 1 grievance and ask the Grievance Officer for the processing number of your grievance. If you have this number you will have a direct reference to track a grievance. This helps discourage grievances being "misplaced." It's also handy when you write Administration Review & Risk Management (ARRM) about the unit not addressing that particular grievance. For important and serious grievances it is useful to start them like this:

I file this grievance to exhaust all administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act to bring forth action under section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code.

It basically says: I'm going to sue you! It's not a guarantee but such an intro may make the grievance officer take it more seriously.

In regards to the officers who confiscate personal property and then destroy them, I'd like to direct our comrades to the Texas Grievance Guide, in particular the part concerning filing criminal charges against officers. If an officer takes a prisoner's property without giving a confiscation form stating the reason for confiscation, then that is legally theft. It is also a violation of your civil right to due process (which is also a criminal offense). Of course you will need some kind of proof that the item existed and was taken. Get prisoners to write affidavits and reference any camera numbers (if there are any). The criminal charges may not stick because pigs don't eat pork, but it may give them a wake up call and make them think twice.

I agree that our grievance petitions are having no effect with the people we are currently sending them to. I feel it more beneficial to send them to ACLU Texas or the DOJ. Our grievances and complaints are systematically neglected and denied. It is an Orwellian system, a labyrinth of closed loops, a facade. We need to push for the TDCJ Independent Oversight Committee which will place our grievances before an unaffiliated organization with the ability to monitor TDCJ to ensure that it abides by statutory law and its own policy.

We shouldn't hope sending the grievance petition alone to the DOJ or ACLU is enough. We must promote and campaign this proposed bill to our freeworld friends and family. I see no other way to break these closed loops.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Write to us for a copy of the Texas Grievance Guide. While we agree with this comrade that a TDCJ Independent Oversight Committee would bring progress for Texas prisoners in their fight against abuse and injustice, this too is not enough. We must learn from history that reforms like this one are followed by DOJ tricks and adjustments to work around the new policies and continue the same old abuse and repression. While we should still fight for these reforms, and use the battle to educate and unite people both behind the bars and on the streets, we must do this in the context of the broader struggle against the criminal injustice system. We should never mislead people to think that one reform or one house bill will make the change we need to see to create a true system of justice.

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