The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Civil Liberties] [Hunger Strike] [Gang Validation] [Lanesboro Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Denial of Constitutional Rights to STGs Spreads to North Carolina

Lanesboro Correctional Institution, in Anson County, North Carolina, has just enacted a gang program, which is nothing shy of draconian. Even for a state that is draconian to begin with.

It started when these pigs separated all of the inmates who were not listed as "STG" from the inmates who were considered part of the "Security Threat Group." Federal law allows violation of prisoners' Constitutional rights during times of emergency, when there is a "threat to the security of the institution." By naming inmates a "security threat," they are basically saying that these inmates have no Constitutional rights. They are being forced to shower in chains, handcuffs and shackles, and are pretty much being denied any and all rights.

The gang program is locked down 23 hours a day, and requires going 6 months infraction free to step down a single step. There are 3 steps in all, and a class of "STG associate" after that. This could force prisoners to go infraction free for 2 full years to get out of the program. Along with this program came a whole new set of rules which makes it nearly impossible to go infraction free without favoritism from the police. Of course, the only way you get that is by snitching, which in such an environment would get a prisoner killed. Being listed as an associate could be justified by something as small as an officer's claim that you said something gang-related, or even my writing this article.

In response to this new policy, prisoners on 3 of the 8 STG blocks have declared a hunger strike. More prisoners on the STG unit are doing the same, in an attempt to break down this program in its infancy. The pigs are responding by cutting off their communication so they cannot be heard. I only learned of this by accident when a "Non-STG" prisoner was moved into my block to make room for more STG blocks.

This policy is being carried out in many states as we speak. Gang members are still human beings, and therefore entitled to the same protections as everyone else. Prisoners need to stand together everywhere and shut this down before it goes into full effect.

This article referenced in:
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[Censorship] [Lanesboro Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Don't Be Silenced - Censor Victory in North Carolina

On 14 February 2014, I won a very small victory in my struggle against the oppression of political beliefs in the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.

On 10 February 2014, I received two notices from the mail room, indicating that both the November/December (#35) and the January/February (#36) issues of Under Lock & Key were being rejected. The reasons given were that these publications supported "disobedience and insurrection."

Due to the fact that ULK #35 was already on the banned publication list, I was not permitted to appeal this rejection, however, I was permitted to appeal the ULK #36 because it had not yet made the master list held by NCDAC.

I brought up a constitutional argument about how prisons cannot maintain a list of banned materials, my right to my political beliefs, and the fact that a prison can not ban a publication just because it does not approve of the organization it comes from. This was decided in a court case called Williams v. Brimeyer, 116 F. 3d 351, 354 (8th circuit 1997). I also argued that ULK does not promote insurrection and disorder, yet uses prison issues to promote peaceful change to both prisons and the outside world through education and the study of politics.

Surprisingly, when mail came today, issue 36 of ULK had been returned to me. Sometimes you just have to stand up for what you believe in and not give up. For anybody who faces the rejection of the ULK newsletter, I would like to make known, that ULK does not contain a significant security risk to prisons, and therefore is constitutionally protected. If your newsletter has been rejected, I strongly recommend that you fight for it on this basis. Do not allow anyone to silence the struggle.

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[Medical Care] [Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 37]
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Fighting the System: Appealing the $100 Medical Co-Pay in Texa$

The Texa$ Legislature cut $60 million from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) budget for 2012 and raised the medical co-pay from $3 per visit to $100 per year. They had the unrealistic expectation of collecting up to $15 million from the prisoners [see Prison Legal News, Oct 2012 p. 42]. As all of us have noticed, the TDCJ also enacted other corner cutting measures to save pennies. These include: cutting back on legal books at the law library, reducing education and rehabilitation programs, serving two meals on the weekend and dessert once a week, restricting indigent correspondence to 5 letters a month, banning freeworld stationary (so you must buy it from the commissary), and reducing the number of staff. The idea was to reduce expenses that would help Texa$ manage its massive budget shortfall.

This guide is about appealing the $100 medical co-pay in Texa$. It presents all the Co-Pay Exemptions that can be used to get your money back. We want to keep our very limited funds out of the hands of the TDCJ so that we can use it for more important purposes. Specifically, you are encouraged to spend any money you recover on educating and organizing others. Send a donation to Under Lock & Key to expand the pages in this valuable resource, create study groups and make copies of literature to study, copy and distribute grievance petitions to fight the corrupt grievance process and to end the limit on indigent correspondence, or buy stamps and envelopes for indigent prisoners who can't buy for themselves. There are a lot of things we need to be doing with our limited funds, so we fight to keep this money from being appropriated by the state.

How Do We Appeal The Medical Co-pay?

It is rather simple. Get a Step One Grievance (I-127) and explain on it why you are exempt. If your Step One is denied, follow through with the same argument in a Step Two (I-128). You will be surprised at how often the Appeal is granted. The issue is that most medical departments systematically charge everyone the co-pay out of hope you are ignorant about the exemptions and fail to appeal it. They get away with this because there is no confirmation necessary for them to charge you (compared to commissary purchases, receiving legal mail, sending indigent correspondence - all need your confirmation - but not the medical co-pay). Here is a brief example: Co-pay is not to be assessed for any prisoner receiving a clipper shave pass as they have been diagnosed with a chronic and permanent dermatologic condition - "pseudofolliculitis barbae." Diabetic prisoners who receive foot care, specifically toe nail trimming, as part of their chronic care treatment plan are not to be assessed a co-pay fee either.

The medical co-pay regulation can be found at Texas Government Code 501-063. The Administrative Director for it in TDCJ is AD 06-08. In relevant part, the Co-payment Determinations and Exemptions are found in Section III.

Here are the Exemptions:

A) Unless specifically exempted, offender-initiated visits shall be subject to a copayment (meaning that if you do not initiate the visit, i.e. work related or officer initiates it, then you are exempt).

B) A copayment shall NOT be charged if the health care service is the result of an emergency which includes, but is not limited to, injuries sustained as a result of an accident or assault. Such injuries shall be covered by the emergency visit exemption.

C) Copay shall NOT be charged if the health care services are related to the diagnosis or treatment of a communicable disease. Such services, including follow-up visits and testing, are exempt as either a chronic care visit or a department-initiated visit. Offenders shall not be charged for initiating communicable disease testing.

D) Initial requests for mental health reviews initiated by the offender are NOT subject to the copayment requirement. Emergency, follow-up, or chronic care requests for mental health reviews shall NOT be charged a copayment.

E) Follow-up visit related to the monitoring or treatment of a condition diagnosed in a previous visit with a health care provider are exempt from copayment charges.

F) Prenatal services, including the initial visit diagnosing pregnancy, subsequent examinations, testing, counseling and patient education services are specifically exempted from copayment requirements.

G) Physical or mental health screening, laboratory work, referrals and follow-up appointments provided or recommended as part of the initial intake diagnostic and reception process are exempt from the copayment requirement.

H) A health screening upon arrival at a new unit of assignment shall be considered a visit to a health care provider initiated by a health care provider and is exempt from the copayment requirement.

I) Prescriptions and medications are considered to be a result of a medical visit and follow-up procedures and are exempt from the copayment charge. No charge shall be assessed for accessing approved over-the-counter medications made available in the offender housing area.

J) A copayment applies to a single visit. An offender requesting a visit to a health care provider for multiple symptoms shall be charged only one copayment if the symptoms are addressed in the same visit. If a request for a visit with a health care provider results in scheduling of appointments with more than one provider, such as a dentist and a physician, the initial visit with each clinician is subject to the copayment requirement.

K) If an offender is being seen by a provider for services otherwise exempted from the copayment and during the course of the visit requests healthcare services related to a different condition then that being served, the additional request shall be treated as an initial offender-initiated visit, shall be documented in accordance with the walk in procedures, and are subject to the copayment requirement.

L) A copayment shall NOT be assessed for medical treatment of self-inflicted injuries. Offenders inflicting injuries on themselves shall be referred to mental health evaluations.

M) Offenders shall NOT be charged for "No-Shows" because a visit did not occur. The copayment requirement only applies if the offender is seen by a health care provider. "No-Shows" shall be documented in accordance with CMHC procedures.

N) Dental services are considered health care services and subject to the copayment requirements if the services are initiated by the offender. Exemptions from copayment requirements for emergencies, chronic care, follow-up, health screening and evaluations, and department initiated visits are to be applied in the same manner as for other health care services.

O) Physical evaluations following use of force incidents are required by TDCJ policy and are not subject to the copayment requirement.

P) Inpatient services are considered follow-up services and are not subject to the copayment requirement. These services include, but are not limited to, hospitalization, extended care nursing, hospice and unit infirmary inpatient care.

Q) Procedures or testing ordered by a Court or performed pursuant to state law are exempt from the copayment requirement.

R) Services provided under contractual obligation established pursuant to the Interstate Corrections Compact or under an agreement with another state that precludes the assessment of a copayment shall be exempt from the requirement to charge.

Each One, Teach One

Share this guide with those who need it. If you are a good grievance writer, then help those who may not feel as confident. And be sure to encourage everyone to make good use of the money they win through these grievances. It is not enough to just keep $100 out of the hands of the TDCJ. If that money is spent on unnecessary canteen purchases or on drugs or services that are bad for your health and/or a waste of money, you haven't actually accomplished anything. Spend this money on meaningful work to fight the criminal injustice system. Even a small donation can help with the education of others and the expansion of our work, and $100 can do a lot! Get in touch with MIM(Prisons) to make a donation or for more information about educating and organizing in Texas prisons and beyond.

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[Control Units] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 37]
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Leaked Document on CDCR Step Down Program Exposes Brainwash Techniques

coffin for SHU hunger strikers
I wanted to write a few words concerning the new step down program that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has begun to implement. There is nothing new about this brainwash program because brainwash kamps are tools learned in the "School of the Americas" (aka Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), which was founded in 1946. Brainwash kamps were unleashed on the Vietnamese by the French, on Jews and communists by the German Nazis before the gas, and the Koreans tasted these kamps by their Japanese colonizers. In fact, all colonized people experience some form of brainwashing by the oppressor. Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisons are examples of U.$. imperialism following this tradition.

First we should keep in mind that many folks captured in these SHUs are not guilty of what they are accused of. So long as information is extracted via torture, i.e. years of solitary confinement, then false information will be provided to the torturers. It is a fact that some humyn beings will say or do anything to stop the torture, and as a result many prisoners will be subjected to torture for false accusations.

We happened to get our hands on one of the journals that are used in the step down program. A guard slid one of them into our pod by "accident" and as you could imagine it was heavily scrutinized.

This brainwash manual has quotes of nameless supposed prisoners sprinkled throughout saying things to the effect that the supposed prisoner once blamed the system or other elements but has now realized it was her/his own fault. Each page has the following words on the bottom, "It is illegal to duplicate this page in any manner."

The supposed purpose of this program is for prisoners to work their way out of the SHU. This will supposedly be done to allow prisoners a way, outside of informing on people, to get back to the general population. What they don't tell you is that you will have to now go through their brainwash course. Even then they can deny you if they feel you are not sincere. But my question is, why do I have to undergo a deprogramming when I am the torture survivor? Why shouldn't my torturer have to take classes on why it's wrong to torture?

In the "journal," each page asks questions, such as for the reader to list wrongdoings you have done and then asks what caused you to make these choices. Examples are given of different crimes the supposed prisoner committed. They then ask for pros and cons of crimes one committed and one is even asked if you feel sly or manipulative when you deceive people.

All these questions are asked in a way that implicates you and attempts to blame you for not just being in prison but in SHU as well. At no time is the possibilty even hinted of someone being in SHU for false allegations. There are lists of good habits and "criminal" behavior. But good habits like "caring" or "responsibility" are what we already showed in the strikes, and "criminal" behavior listed like "dishonesty" or "irresponsibility" is exactly what the state has done. Yet this brainwash journal wants us to say we are criminal if we want to advance in this de-programming or de-revolutionizing program. There is no way I will even act or role play with my torturers just to go to general population. What they are doing is wrong and rather than take them off the hook by falsely admitting to criminal behavior I will refuse their brainwash program and continue to publicize this torture and agitate for resistance in these death kamps!


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade asks a good question as to why it is not the torturer who has to take classes to help them understand that what they did was wrong. Of course there is a class character to every justice system, and in the United $tates we have a bourgeois state. When there was a proletarian-led state in China it was the torturers, landlords and spies for the imperialists that underwent re-education in what might be called a brainwashing program by the imperialists. The difference in the class character of the Chinese prison system and the Amerikan one is that those deemed criminals were put in communal living situations, where they had to learn to live and work together with others, where they were given reading materials, and required to study. So while the ultimate goal of getting the criminals to recognize that what they did was wrong was similar, this was done through group study and struggle, rather than long-term isolation and torture as is common for the oppressed languishing in U.$. prisons.

We do not oppose re-education as we are all products of our environment. Even in U.$. prisons, many of the oppressed locked up have committed (relatively minor) crimes as they emulate the values of the bourgeoisie. What we do oppose is torture, wasting of humyn lives, and a justice system that prioritizes profits over humyn life.


Note: for more on the re-eduation programs in Chinese prisons check out Prisoners of Liberation by Amerikan students Allyn and Adele Rickett or the autobiography of the last Emperor of Manchuria, Pu Yi, From Emperor to Citizen.

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[Latin America]
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Miss Venezuela Media Hype Ignores Biggest Murderer

Much hype and media attention has been brought by the murder of the runner up of the Miss Universe, Miss Venezuela. News pundits like to point out that Venezuela had over 25,000 murders last year and is the world's murder capital. The killing of any person through murder and greed is sad and tragic, but what the media fails to talk about is Amerika's own murder rate.

Statistics for 2010-2011 from the FBI's Crime in the U.S. report has murder and negligent manslaughter at 14,612. This is below the 24,000 murders in Venezuela, but it doesn't account for murders committed by the U.$. armed forces around the globe. In the United States the number of forcible rapes for 2010-2011 was 85,593. This does not account for non-reported rapes as well as rapes in the military.

The government-mouthpiece media in the U.$. viciously portrays other country's problems and flaws in order to keep the prying eyes of the world off the United $tates.

People the world over should strive to end crime in their communities. But most importantly people should understand that the grandfather of all criminals is the imperialist system here in Amerika.

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[Aztlan/Chicano] [National Oppression]
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National Struggle or Assimilation

national liberation or assimililation
Reading MIM Theory #7: Proletarian Feminist Nationalism I couldn't help but notice that to date there has been a strong trend of oppressed nationals becoming more and more molded and fitted to U.$. culture and its parasitic ways.

A quote by Malcolm X found in MT7 struck me hard: "I'm not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn't make you a diner, unless you eat some of what's on that plate. Being here in America doesn't make you an American. Being born here in America doesn't make you an American."..."No, I am not an American, I'm one of the 22 million black people who are the victims of Americanism. I don't see any American dream, I see an American nightmare."(1)

I'm hard pressed to find an organization that's "Latino" nationalist and agitating for the emancipation of what is currently the south western portion of the United $tates to become a nation itself.

These days you hear Latinos all throughout the United $tates clamoring for comprehensive immigration reform. Enough of this assimilation, and how about a call for what was once Mexico to return to its people. Whether this emancipated state will become part of modern day Mexico or form its own nation is for the people to decide for themselves. Those same people clamoring for immigration reform, who fail to realize that they are an oppressed nation within an oppressor nation, can't help but feel as if they constitute a part of this oppressor class (white chauvinism). The policies that will be enacted due to their protesting and petitions will only hurt and destroy the Latino communities. As a people who are already stigmatized and oppressed, the crumbs of the white nation are counter to the ultimate interests of Latino people.

It's no secret how the INS and ICE deport huge numbers of Latino people who only come here to make and earn a living. Some might ask: if Amerika is so fucked up why do you want Latinos here? Well if numbers are power then the more people we have the better we are able to form a revolutionary nationalistic party and arouse national sentiment in face of brutality. Moreover as burdensome jobs will go to those immigrants the better it'll be to swell the ranks of the proletariat.

Most people these days are so jingoistic with Amerikanism that at the same time they wave the U.$. flag they wave their country of origin flag too, not grasping how NAFTA and trade relations with "south Amerika" are one sided and are to the advantage of the white U.$. middle class. Even within prison you hear prisoners clamoring of how great the United $tates is.

Oppressed nations must take notice that you are not what the U.$. constitution meant to defend, you never will be and it's futile to think cheering and asking for reforms will free your nation. H. Ford Douglas put it nicely: "There is as much force in a black [Brown, red, etc] man's standing up and exclaiming after the manner of the 'old Roman' - 'I am an American citizen,' as there was in the Irish man who swore he was a loaf of bread, because he happened to be born in a bake oven... I can hate this government without being disloyal, because it has stricken down my manhood and treated me as a saleable commodity. I can join a foreign enemy and fight against it, without being a traitor, because it treats me as an ALIEN and a STRANGER, and I am free to avow that should such a contingency arise I should not hesitate to take any advantage in order to procure indemnity for the future. I can feel no pride in the glory, growth, greatness or grandeur of this nation."(2)

Notes:
1. Malcolm X, The Ballot or the Bullet, April 3, 1964, Cleveland, Ohio
2. Quoted in MIM Theory 7, pg 40.

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[Campaigns]
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Texa$ Grievance Guide

This pamphlet is a compilation of the work a prisoner, who is a member of the National Lawyer's Guild (Jailhouse Lawyer member) and sits on the Steering Committee of the NLG Mass Incarceration Committee and a pamphlet produced by the Director of the Prisoners' Rights Program, Texas Civil Rights Project (Oficina legal del Pueblo Unido, Inc. 1405 Montopolis Drive Austin, Tx 78741-3438 www.TexasCivilRightsProject.org). MIM(Prisons) combined the information put together by these authors and we welcome feedback, corrections and additions.

Introduction

Regardless of what mistakes you may have made in the past, there is one thing that being in prison can never change, and that's the fact that as a humyn being you have unalienable rights. These rights can never be taken away from you. The Texa$ prison system encourages the belief that we have no rights, that somehow by violating a statutory law you lose your constitutional or humyn rights. This is a demoralizing lie. The purpose of prison is to separate us from society for a specific period of time, not to be sadistically mistreated by prison officials. Texa$ will continue to abuse and violate our rights until we make a stand and demand they either reform or abolish their oppressive, outdated and counterproductive ways.

Our greatest advantage is that we have numbers, at least 166,000 prisoners. Our biggest disadvantage is ignorance. Most prisoners don't know their rights. this guide has been written by prisoners for prisoners. It is to show you what your rights are, how to stand up for them, and why it is important to do so. No one on the outside can do this for us. They can help and support us but only those within the prison walls can make a real difference. This guide is the first step in getting things changed: being paid for work, meaningful good time, conjugal visits, not being forced to shave, legitimate rehab programs, and humane living conditions and treatment (just to name a few).

The information in this guide is for the benefit of all Texas prisoners. Empower yourself with its knowledge and then actively pass that knowledge on to others. If you are incarcerated in a state other than Texas, I would encourage you to put together your own grievance guide.

Your Rights in Prison - Learn them!

Here are some of your rights in prison:

  1. Freedom from discrimination and the right to equal protection
  2. The right to due process (the fair and proper application of law and policy - this includes disciplinary cases too)
  3. The right to freedom of speech and expression
  4. Prison officials can not open legal or privileged mail unless in your presence to inspect for contraband only (See BP 03-91)
  5. You have to right to practice your religion - you also have the right to meet with a religious leader and to attend religious services of your faith.
  6. You have the right to decent and safe conditions in prison - prisoners are entitled to sanitary toilet facilities, proper trash procedures and basic supplies such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, toilet paper, razors, shower shoes and cleaning products.
  7. Guards to not have the right to harm or beat you.
  8. Prisons must provide prisoners with opportunities for exercise outside their cells
  9. Prison food needs to meet nutritional standards (not just calorie count)
  10. Prisons must provide you with adequate medical care
  11. When you ask for a grievance or request to speak to a ranking office they must do it. It is not discretionary.
  12. Prisoners have the right to complain about prison conditions and voice their concerns about the treatment they receive without retaliation.
  13. You have the right against guard harassment
  14. You have the right against torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.
  15. Collective punishment is prohibited
  16. You have the right against being held in slavery or servitude in any form. You must be legitimately compensated for the work you do in prison ("goodtime" in Texas is not legitimate compensation because it is meaningless. It only goes towards parole eligibility - which is still at the Parole Board's discretion - and must be signed back to the State in order to make parole).
  17. You have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, even for disciplinary cases.

Detailed Guide to Filing a Grievance in a Texas Prison or Jail

In most cases, prisoners must file a grievance about a problem in prison before they can file a lawsuit. The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) requires prisoners to "exhaust administrative remedies" before they can take a problem to federal court. Though grievances may not work, an inmate must at least try to fix a problem through the grievance process. In most prisons and jails, "exhausting administrative remedies" requires filing a grievance and an appeal. If an appeal is not also filed, a prisoner has not "exhausted" their remedies and cannot go to federal court.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice
For prisoners in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, complete a Step 1 (I-127) and Step 2 (I-128) grievance. Be careful to follow TDCJ's grievance rules.

Before you file: Talk with prison staff about the problem. This is considered "Informal resolution."

How to file:

  1. Get a grievance form from TDCJ. Forms should be available in the law library and your housing unit.
  2. Follow these guidelines when you write your grievance:
    Only write about the issue you want help with. Each grievance can only discuss one problem. If you have more than one problem, write a different grievance for each problem. Remember you are limited to writing one grievance per week.
    When you write the grievance, explain who you talked to and what they did (if anything) about your problem in the "Informal resolution" part.
    Be sure to file your grievance within 15 days of learning about the problem, or as soon as possible.
    Make sure you include how you would like to have the problem solved. For example, if you are sick and need to see a doctor, write "I want to see a doctor."
    Do not use indecent, vulgar, or threatening language. TDCJ has the right to refuse to process a grievance with bad language.
  3. TDCJ has 40 days to respond to your Step 1 grievance. You can file a Step 2 grievance as soon as you receive a response to your Step 1 grievance. If 40 days have passed and you have still not received a response and you have not been notified that there will be a delay, you can proceed to file the Step 2 grievance. You must file a Step 2 grievance within 15 days of receiving the response to your Step 1 grievance. TDCJ has 35 more days to process a Step 2 grievance.
  4. Always keep copies of your returned grievances. You may need them later on and it can be difficult to obtain copies.

Family of TDCJ inmates can also contact TDCJ's Ombudsman at http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/adminrvw/adminrvw-ombud.htm. Speaking with the Ombudsman does not exhaust administrative remedies under the PLRA. If You wish to take legal action, you must also make sure Step 1 and Step 2 grievances have properly been filed in most cases. Contacting the Ombudsman is a way to solve problems without having to resort to the courts.

Grievable Issues:

TDCJ polices and procedures
Actions of an employee
Harassment and/or retaliation for use of the grievance procedure or access to courts
Violation of your rights
Loss or damage of personal property by TDCJ
Basic care (things that TDCJ has control over)

Non-Grievable Issues:

State or Federal law
Parole decisions
Time served credit disputes

Remedies that are available:

Restitution of property, either monetary or compensatory (see Gov Code §501-007)
Change of policy, procedures, rules or practice
Correction of records
Other relief as appropriate

Remedies not available:

Request for consequential or punitive damages
Request for disciplinary action against guards or employees (Note: you can request that appropriate action be taken to remind the guard of policy/your rights).


County Jails
Policies are different in every county jail. Please check your inmate handbook for information about how to file a grievance. If you were not given an inmate handbook, ask jail staff how to file a grievance.

If jail staff will not explain how to file a grievance to you, you may not be required to file a grievance before taking your case to court. Make notes about who you asked for help filing a grievance and what they told you.

All county jails are inspected every year by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. To report a problem to the Commission, you can complete an online form here:
http://www.tcjs.state.tx.us/complaint.php. The postal address is: PO Box 12985, Austin TX 78711-2985 (no TDCJ complaints). Contacting the Commission does not exhaust administrative remedies under the PLRA. If you wish to take legal action, You must also make sure to follow the jail's grievance policies in most cases.


Texas Youth Commission
For prisoners in the Texas Youth Commission there are several options to file a grievance, which are different for children and parents:
For children in TYC Custody, grievance forms are available from the grievance clerk on each dorm. Request a form, complete it, and place it in the drop box on the dorm. TYC has 15 days to respond to the grievance.
For parents, guardians and other youth advocates, grievances can be submitted to TYCs Incident Reporting Center: http://www.tyc.state.tx.us/news/tyc_hotline.html
In an emergency, children, parents and advocates can call 1-866-477-8354, toll-free. Children can make this call from the phones In their dorms for free.

If TYC does not satisfactorily respond to the grievance within 15 business days, you must appeal. Ask the facility who appeals should be given to. Children, parents, and advocates may file appeals in the same way. If the appeal does not resolve the problem within 15 business days, another appeal must be filed with TYC's executive director at TYC's central office.

For children on parole, the process is the same. Children on parole can get a grievance form from the district parole office where they report.

For more information about TYC's grievance process, see TYC's website: http://austin.tyc.state.tx.us/Cfinternet/gap/93/gap9331.htm

Children, family and youth advocates can also contact the Office of the Independent Ombudsman: http://www.tyc.state.tx.us/ombudsman/index.html, an independent watchdog agency supervising TYC. Speaking with the Ombudsman does not exhaust administrative remedies under the PLRA. If you wish to take legal action, you must also make sure to follow the grievance procedures in most cases.


PLRA Exceptions to Grievance Requirement
There are many exceptions to the PLRA. If you qualify for one of these exceptions, you may not need to file grievances before going to court:

If you file your lawsuit in state court, the PLRA does not apply to TYC and County jail prisoners.
The PLRA only applies to people in prison, so it may be possible to wait until you are released to file your case. (Remember, though, in most cases you must file within 2 years of when the problem occurred. Do not wait to get out if it will take more than 2 years.)
If you want to file a lawsuit because someone you are related to died in prison, you do not need to file grievances.

If there is any doubt about whether you qualify for an exception, you should file grievances. Try to talk to a lawyer before relying on an exception. Overall the authors of this guide encourage prisoners to follow the PLRA guidelines rather than trying to circumvent it with an exception.

Some Noteworthy Government Codes

These Texas Governmental Codes may be useful to quote in your grievance


§500-001 - 'Supervisory or Disciplinary Authority of Inmates' (this prohibits prisoners disciplining or supervising another prisoner)
§501-002 "If an employee of the department commits an assault on an inmate….the executive director shall file a complaint with the proper official of the county in which the offense occurred." (If you are assaulted it could be worthwhile writing the executive director or get your family/friends to contact him directly and remind him of his statutory obligation to contact the sheriff).
§501-003 "The department shall ensure that inmates … are fed good and wholesome food, prepared under sanitary conditions and provided in sufficient quantity and reasonable variety."
§501-007 "The department may pay for the miscellaneous funds appropriated to the division claims made by inmates … for property lost or damaged by the division."
§501-008 Inmate Grievance System - must provide procedures "for an inmate to identify evidence to substantiate the inmates claim."
§501-010 "a) the institutional division shall allow the governor, member of the legislature, and members of the executive and judicial branches to enter at proper hours any part of a facility operated by the division where inmates are housed or work, for purpose of observing the operations of the division. A visitor described by this subsection may talk with inmates away from institutional division employees."
§501-055 Report of Inmate Death
§501-101 Programs and Services for wrongfully imprisoned persons who are discharged

Administrative Review and Risk Management Division (ARRM)

If you have Complaints concerning the grievance process you can direct them to the administrator of the 'Offender Grievance Program'. The address is: ARRM Division, Administrator, PO Box 99, Huntsville, TX 77342-0099

This address is good to complain about actions of grievance officers such as not following procedure, timelines or refusing to accept a grievance. If you're writing about a specific grievance, make sure to send them the grievance processing number. If you want to complain about the denial of a Step 2, you can write ARRM and respectfully request for them to reconsider or review its denial. Then explain why.

Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook

The essential handbook regarding your rights in prison and a step by step guide on filing a lawsuit against prison officials. It can be downloaded by a friend/family from: www.jailhouselaw.org or you can request a copy by writing: The Center for Constitutional Rights, RE: Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook, 666 Broadway 7th floor, New York, NY 10012

The US Department of Justice

The US Dept of Justice (DOJ) is a Federal agency that is collecting evidence for their investigation against TDCJ for violating prisoners' constitutional rights. We can help them by sending our Step 1 and 2 grievances with a witness statement. You need to make sure that you put their case number for this investigation at the top of every page that you send them. The case number is 168-74-0. You can seal the envelope because it is official legal mail, this way the prison authorities can not find out what you have written. You need at least one forever stamp for every 6 sheets of paper. You can write a "witness statement" (in letter form if needed) stating the injustices you have witnessed while being locked up. Also explain how this affects ALL Texas prisoners or what you have witnessed is happening to all Texas prisoners. This is an important point to emphasize because the DOJ needs to prove that Texas has a systematic "pattern or practice" of the deprivation of Constitutional rights that violates all Texas prisoners to "have the authority to initiate civil actions against state officials to remedy the unlawful conditions." Make sure you provide your full name, TDCJ No, and unit. State that you would like to see a Federal investigation conducted into Texa$ prisons constitutional violations of prisoner rights. Sign it and put a date.

Note: you can not get in trouble for writing the DOJ. Remember, you MUST put the case number (168-74-0) on the top of every page you send them, and seal it.

Appropriate topics for witness statements can be:


Goodtime as a fraudulent and meaningless system
Grievance system a deception of lies
Unjust practices of the disciplinary system
Unsanitary conditions
No payment for Texas prisoners who work
Deficient law library and denial of access to courts
Misuse of force by officers
Medical ignoring complaints of health issues
Guard harassment and retaliation

Send witness statements and grievances to: US Attorney General, US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20530.

More info: www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl

Outside Help

If you can't get an issue resolved or need to put some pressure on the system, it is very helpful to get help from the outside (friends, family, media and advocates). It helps to remind the authorities to remain honest and stop abusing us in any form.

Get people from the outside to write letters or make followup calls to the Warden or Regional Director to find out if an issues has been resolved, and if not, why.

Here are a few contacts that either you or your outside help can contact to put pressure on the system:


TDCJ Ombudsman: 936-437-6791 [email protected]
TDCJ Executive Director, PO Box 99, Huntsville TX 77342, 936-437-8035 [email protected]
Texas Senator John Whitmire, Capital Station, PO Box 12068, Austin TX 78711, 512-463-0115
Central Grievance Office, PO Box 3629, Austin, TX 78764-3629
Inmate Assistance League, 6804 E Hwy 6 South, Ste 202, Houston TX 77083 (Advocates)
Concerned Christians, PO Box 101094, San Antonio TX 78201
Con Care Services: 10124 Champa Dr, Dallas TX 75218-1704, 214-348-0293 (Advocates)
Texas CURE, PO Box 38381, Dallas TX 75238-0381
Office of the Governor, PO Box 12428, Austin TX 78711-2428, 512-463-2000
San Antonio Express, PO Box 2171, San Antonio TX 78297
Austin American Statesman, Attn: Mike Ward, Investigative Reporter, PO Box 670, Austin TX 78767
Houston Chronicle, PO Box 4260, Houston TX 77210
Dallas Morning News, 508 Young St, Dallas TX 75202
Loredo Morning Times, PO Box 2129, Loredo TX 78044
Corpus Christi Caller-Times, PO Box 9136, Corpus Christi, TX 78469
The New York Times, 620 Eighth Ave, New York, NY 10018-1405
USA Today, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean VA 22108

PD-22 General Rules of Conduct for TDCJ Employees

These are the rules the guards can be written up for by their rank. Sometimes it is helpful to include these rule violations in your grievance. A full copy can be found at your law library or can be downloaded from www.tdcj.state.tx.us.

Rule 3: Sleeping on Duty
8: Failure to follow proper safety procedures
10: Falsification of records (also a violation of Texas Penal Code §37.09 and 37.10)
11: Unauthorized taking or use of personal property
13: Failure to obey a proper order from an authority
14a: Use of profane/abusive language/gestures (violation of Texas Penal Code §39.04)
14b: Use of slurs/hostile epithets (TX Penal Code §39.04)
17: Reporting to work under the influence of alcohol or drugs
19: Use of alcohol or illicit drugs on the job
20: Violation of statutory authority/court order/rules/regulations/policies (TX Penal Code §39.04)
22b: Harassing or retaliating for participating in an official investigation/inquiry or for pursuing legal activities (i.e. petitioning the courts) (TX Penal Code §36.06)
23: Mistreatment of offenders - mistreatment usually takes the form of physical abuse but it may also include, but not be limited to, such actions as threats or unauthorized/illegal denial of privileges or entitlements. (TX Penal Code §39.04)
24: Use of excessive/unnecessary force.(TX Penal Code §22.01)
27: Failure to turn in all evidence seized (TX Penal Code §37.09)
28: Improper or untidy uniform (including not wearing name tag)
32: Destroying evidence or giving false testimony/information. (TX Penal Code §37.09)
33: Release of information - a TDCJ employee is not allowed to release any information relating to employees or offenders (TX Penal Code §39.04)
34: Accepting goods, money, services or favors (TX Penal Code §36.02)
36: Insubordination
37: Misconduct
41: Denial of uniform access to courts (also see BP 03-81) - unauthorized denial of legal visits or access to legal materials, harassing or retaliation against an offender for exercising the offender's right to file a grievance or complaint, not giving a grievance once one is requested, not allowing an offender to correspond with the courts or public officials (TX Penal Code §39.04)
44: Tampering with a witness (TX Penal Code §36.05)
50: Discourteous conduct of a sexual nature

Note: When a guard or prison official violates a penal code you can file a sworn complaint to the District Attorney of that county and press criminal charges (requisites of complaint - TX Code Crim Proc Art 15.05). Make sure you read the violated penal code to ensure you list all the necessary elements to establish probable cause for an arrest warrant. As the victim of that crime you have all the rights set out in TX Code Crim. Proc. Art 56.01 and you are entitled to utilize the Victims Assistance Coordinator to enforce those rights (Art 56.04). When guards realize that the law of the state also applies within the confines of this razor wire they may think twice before acting illegally and violating our rights.

Other TDCJ Policy of Interest


AD 3-22 Offender Searches
AD 3-29 Procedure to be followed in cases of offender death
AD 3-31 Procedures relating to unit lockdowns
AD 3-40 Out-of-cell time for general population offenders
ED 2-01 TDCJ ethics policy (great for a laugh)
BP 3-46 Standards for the use of force
AD 3-50 Ad Seg
AD 3-53 Solitary confinement
AD 3-70 Cell restriction for general population offenders
AD 3-72 Offender property
AD 3-76 Offender disciplinary procedures
BP 3-77 Offender grievances
BP 3-81 Access to the courts, counsel and public officials rules
AD 3-82 Management of offender grievances
AD 3-83 Offenders who refuse to comply with grooming standards
BP 3-91 Uniform offender correspondence rules
AD 4-18 Offender jobs assignments, job descriptions, etc.
AD 4-35 Review of offender disciplinary action
AD 4-80 Good conduct time
AD 4-83 Time credit dispute resolution
AD 5-25 Menus and diets
AD 6-08 Medical co-pay (also see Gov Code § 501-063)
ED 7-29 Religious policy statement
AD 7-30 Procedures for religious programming
AD 7-33 Recreation
AD 7-40 Offender organizations
ED 10-61 TDCJ Safety policy
AD 14-09 Postage and correspondence rules
AD 14-62 Guidelines for handling offender funds, accounts and transactions

Conclusion

This guide is only the first step. We hope that it gives you the tools to put resistance into action. Remember: Each one, teach one. It is your duty to pass this info on to others. United in struggle - united we Fight The System.

Disclaimer: This information is for general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. It is not legal advice. Legal advice involves the application of legal knowledge and skill by a licensed attorney to your specific circumstances. If at all possible, always talk to a lawyer before filing a lawsuit. To find a lawyer near you, call 1-800-252-9690.

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[United Front] [California] [ULK Issue 36]
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Applying the United Front for Peace Principles to the Rasta Movement

ULK 33 was a hit. MIM(Prisons) did a great job with the collection of articles published and the placement of artwork and poems. I personally have been silent because I've been running from that Green Wall drone force and ducking placement in the SHU.

I want to respond to MIM(Prison)'s call for the various groups that signed on to the UFPP statement.

I signed on under the leadership of USW and since then have implemented the five principles in the following manner. In 2010 I took up the Rastafari Flag and grew out my dreadlocks and beard. After study, the RASTA movement showed me a perfect vehicle that allows for the incorporation of the five points of the UFPP, and it attracts people from all walks of life.

The Peace is principal and practiced every place that I step. When I meet prisoners I attempt to affect the space positively by being open to conversation with people outside my nationality, sex and class. What this means is I rap with Mexicans, Asians, Arabs, Europeans, etc., on a range of topics. I include homophobes, homosexuals, transsexuals, and lesbians in rapping sessions. I even talk to correctional officers, nurses, cooks, plumbers and cleaners when they are open. What this allows for is information gathering.

The RASTA Mon believes in the universal connection, so what I use as an umbrella for people to stand under in unity is the "one love" concept. This is attractive to a lot of people in here because society has put many of us on the shelf. When we are introduced to the idea of networking amongst each other around how to change living conditions, a conversation begins. Very few people will fight the weed smoking, dreadhead rasta man with the bag of books in his/her hands journeying around the world, but many will join because they know the movement is fair. I just use the 5 [five pointed star] as a way to introduce the 6 [six pointed star].

I've initiated the conversation that we all are convicts. Peace was established when fifteen guys asked me to speak at a meeting held for all convicts addressing the issues at this joint.

I'm anticipating holding a study group here to apply the educational factor of Growth. When a lot of these guys see me they admire the young man of intelligence and become totally open to learning. I tell everybody my motto is growth and development. In order for any true change to come about one must grow out of the termite ways and the key to change is only found through education. This alone implements the third principle.

As for Internationalism, the Rastafari movement has been recognized as one of the most internationalist movements that there is. I teach what I've learned about other nations through the movement. When you begin to talk to a person who would have never guessed you'd know about their native land, the conversation quickly begins to turn into a lesson from the people of another land. I just simply listen at this point.

And last but not least, Independence. Everywhere I've been since 2010 I've become both the Rastafari minister and/or the recreational clerk on the M.A.C. body. I simply go to the chapel, show movies about the struggle around with the brothers/sisters in relation to the movies, and play conscious music as we do workshops developing the tools, products and resources necessary in order for our cadre to affect the conditions.

The progress has not yet been seen by me on this side due to the setback of constantly having to split in order to dodge the iron fist, and a poor line of outside contact which my cell depends on for communication. Where we often have our relatives relay peaceful greetings to one another, sometimes a wife, girlfriend, mother or brother becomes upset or overworked without pay and the line is disturbed.

The way for us to build on each others' experiences is to share them, and be honest. Often times we prisoners want to exaggerate the circumstances, putting it on thick. Keep it 100%. Act like you want somebody to understand what you are sharing so that they can go apply your technique and move the struggle in a forward direction.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade shares some useful tactical approaches and philosophies for building united front across differing groups and individuals. On the ideological level Rastafari does have some congruence with our own work, in particular in the realm of pan-Africanism and African liberation. But these characteristics are a product of the oppressed people who developed the movement rather than the ability of its religious principles to address the material needs of the oppressed. Similar to other religious movements founded by the oppressed, Rastafari shifts the focus from immaterial religious characters to leaders of their own people and to themselves. In these ways these ideologies make a move towards materialism. But Maoism takes it farther, dismissing the lineages and prophecies of the past in favor of studying the material forces that exist within each thing today that will determine its future development. Part of historical materialism is looking at movements of the past, and taking lessons of what works and doesn't work to apply to shaping a better world today. At the same time we seek out where we agree with those of different ideologies to forge united fronts that can push the forces of history forward faster.

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[Organizing] [Theory] [ULK Issue 36]
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Resistance From Within

I recently received the level 2 study group. One question it asks is "Does MIM(Prisons) recruit members from prison? Why or why not? Do you agree? Explain." My answer, in part, was "As prisoners we need MIM(Prisons) to not be subjected to our oppression, which helps to protect the integrity and Third World viewpoint of the MIM." I realized that what I was referring to was resistance to what I once read a comrade call "bourgeois brainwashing." I then set about to understand the psycho-social dynamics of this bourgeois brainwashing and how we must form resistance from within. I also examined the role played by MIM(Prisons) and the tie to how we view the Third World.

Bourgeois brainwashing uses the psychological phenomenon of dehumanization to facilitate the deconstruction of our value systems. Used as a defense against painful or overwhelming emotions, dehumanization entails a decrease in a person's sense of his own individuality and in his perception of the humanness of others. This dehumanization of others allows for their maltreatment to be acquiesced in with relative freedom from the restraints of conscience or feelings of comradeship.

Dehumanization has two interrelated processes: self-directed dehumanization, which relates to self-image and denotes the deterioration of an individual's sense of his own humanness, and object-directed dehumanization, which refers to one's perceiving others as lacking in those attributes that are considered to be most human. These two forms of dehumanization are mutually reinforcing: reduction in the fullness of one's feelings for other human beings diminishes one's own sense of self; any reduction of the humanness of one's self-image limits that person's capacity for relating to others.

You see, the first step is for the pigs to beat down our self-worth and self-respect. Once we lose sight of our own humanness, we cannot see it in others. We then have complacence, even to the point of being helpful, while the U.$. empire oppresses, occupies and exploits the Third World nations. Why should I care? The Third World proletariat are less than human anyway. I didn't put them in the situation they are in, they put themselves there, therefore, they deserve it!

Thus, oppression necessarily rests upon dehumanization, which diminishes and morphs our value system. We can resist dehumanization by holding on to our self-worth and self-respect, and our communistic value system that brought us to participate in the MIM. This takes resistance from within; from within the prison and from within our own selves.

There is a process of resistance called counter-socialization. To keep our values insulated from the conformist bourgeois values shoved down our throats while incarcerated is no easy task. It requires a stabilizing point of reference and behavior patterns that harmonize, to some degree, with our own values. These are two distinct aspects: a supportive reference system or group, and behavior patterns that offer protection against dehumanization of self and others. Our values or attitudes may not be consistent with the behavior expected or even forced upon us, which makes us vulnerable to a deep psychological discord with accompanying stress and pull toward equilibrium to reduce this mental discord and stress. Unless we are careful, our values may subtly change to match our behavior, and the brainwashing has begun.

For us to keep our communistic values from dying or fading away, it helps (it may even be essential) to have value sharers to whom we can refer for guidance and support. This reference group or individual can be other persons within the prison — a formal or informal counter-group. Such a reference system has the advantage of being accessible, relevant (everyone in the same location), and standing out in its interpretive scheme. Our counter-values can also be sustained through contact with or reference to people outside of the prison system. This support has the advantage of not being caught up in the same dehumanizing process as us and, therefore, may be more objective. Furthermore, their existence does not depend on the prison system — a very important point if the going gets rough and the pigs set about to silence our dissension.

To stay on guard, we should occasionally test the limits of the pigs' tolerance for deviant behavior. If we have too much fear of disciplinary action or retaliation we may too narrowly define the boundaries of freedom and may mentally discard alternatives of action that could be advantageously pursued. We can be guided by the experience of others, but more can be gained from personal testing. Personal testing reaffirms a commitment to resistance and nudges us out of complacency. It also gives us a sense of freedom of action, thereby revitalizing our self-determination. To keep from absorbing a new dehumanized value system, we may find it useful from time to time to gut-react with automatic responses. If we always think about consequences before we express our true feelings, the feelings themselves may imperceptibly change. Just as the pigs limit what they will tolerate by way of opposition, we must also limit what we will tolerate by way of co-optation.

One of the most intriguing questions from both a theoretical and practical standpoint is: how long and under what conditions can a person maintain dehumanizing conditions and discordant values without support of any kind from others? Can internal fortitude based on some seemingly distant reference system keep one's brain from being washed, and if so, how? One important aspect of value preservation under conditions of deprivation and debasement is a sense of self-worth. We must hold on to self-respect by preserving some fragment of the truth about ourselves that we respect. Maintaining our integrity under repressive conditions may also require some mental separation of the self from the conditions the pigs force upon us. When we invoke the scientific stance of the observer, in effect, we refuse to be co-opted into the machinery of self-debasement. The preservation of the psyche is also facilitated by exercising freedom of action, however restrictive the limits. This may be as simple as the exercise of anticipating what is going to happen and having predictions validated by future events. Pro-action, as opposed to reaction, also gives us back some sense of control.

MIM(Prisons) offers the supportive reference system outside of the prison system and strongly encourages us to start our own localized study groups to support each other. They also offer support through the formal group United Struggle from Within. This support is imperative in combating the bourgeois brainwashing by allowing us to keep our communistic values front and center by giving us a criticism/self-criticism forum and correcting us when our values begin to morph. MIM(Prisons) also supports us in action. They give us support in testing the limits, in the grievance process, in organizing, and in letting our voices be heard.

Comrades, we must not fall prey to the pigs' dehumanization efforts, communistic value diminishment, and subsequent bourgeois brainwashing. It takes more than passively reading an article or book and agreeing with the content — it takes action! When we start to think that our oppression is our own fault, then we start to justify the oppression of the Third World nations, by the U.$. empire, with some backward bourgeois thought process. We must resist, and this must be resistance from within!

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[Security] [First World Lumpen]
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Secure Communications is Key to Organizing the Lumpen

In response to the May 2013 article Rats Undermine United Front Unity, as a brother of the struggle, originally from Texas, I send mine to all you brothers and sisters back home.

As leaders, we have to be serious about our roles in the movement, accepting responsibility for any personal miscalculation made while representing our units, party, cell, etc.

Period. No cut on it.

Communication is key when organizing the lumpen to unite. And most times having a safe and secure line of communication can be just as important, if not more important, than what is actually being said. Because what is a line of communication if it is always being disturbed, interfered and disrupted? I don't know, but it isn't effective communication I tell you that.

So often we hear prisoners commenting on how great the power of snitches and provocateurs are, and it bothers me that we are able to concentrate so much energy on them instead of on the tactics of countering their elementary crosses, and their state.

Sometimes we revolutionaries have to accept the consequences of our miscalculation so that we can learn an experience that allows us to identify the signs of the problem when it approaches again, instead of being so quick to place blame or responsibility on another person.

I personally was caught slipping while in the possession of a wire regarding economical development involving a select few. The flashlight turtles ran up at an unexpected time to my assigned quarters. With the choice of catching a narcotics possession/distribution charge or dropping my line in order to dispose, I took the latter option and became guilty of losing an important wire. I didn't agree with the charge by my peers or the penalty, but I did take responsibility for the wire being lost. It is very likely that someone very close to me set the authorities to get with my program, but the point is it was my responsibility to safe guard the wire. I lost a lot due to one miscalculation - like a comrade at arms on the battlefield - from great allies who can never again support my campaigns, to resources of a collective committee with it's tentacles reaching into places all across the seas. But on the other hand I learned that the ability to secure and stabilize a line of communication with very important factions behind the wire from state to state is very powerful. But for most it's a learned ability.

I suggest to all comrades that we learn to say who did it less, and practice doing it more. Securing and stabilizing lines of communication is a great place to start.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We've written extensively about the importance of secure communications both behind the bars and on the streets. This is a critical element of self-defense for the revolutionary movement. As the state expands it's tactics of infiltration and information gathering, we must expand our defenses.

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