Censorship Report: January 2008
MIM(Prisons) is ringing in the new year by restarting an old practice of the Prison Ministry of producing biannual censorship reports. The following report is the first one created since we launched our new website at www.prisoncensorship.info. The detailed tracking through this site allows us to get a more detailed analysis then we had in the past.
This first iteration will be a little lacking though for a few reasons. First of all, the new tracking methods were rolled out gradually over the last year. Therefore, some states have been using the system longer than others, giving them more complete data. We are also in the process of reestablishing our connections to states that had been allowed to fall to the wayside in recent years. The people who had been responsible for these areas were not reporting censorship consistently, and communications with prisoners in these states were set back.
With these qualifications, this report will provide us with some baseline data. Overall, of the mail we recorded over the last year, 4.24% was censored, and 6.88% was received. The remaining 88.88% is of an unknown status. Therefore, one big conclusion we can draw from this report is the need for comrades to be more diligent in tracking our mail. If 93% of our mail is not being received then it is time to re-evaluate our strategy.
Prisoners, when you write to us, please include in your letter what items you have received from us since you last wrote and when you received them. If you didn't get something let us know, and send us any copies of censorship documentation, which we will post on our website.
MIM(Prisons) contributors, please make note of this information in the letters you receive and document it on the website. Congratulations to the comrades in Iowa, Washington and Wisconsin which were the only states to report on more than 20% of their mail.
At least three states have put almost complete bans on MIM literature in place. But this number may prove to be higher over the next 6 months as we finish getting things in order.
Complete bans: CA, IL, VA
States that censored: AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, IA, IL, IN, KS, LA, MD, MI, MO, MT, NV, NY, OK, OR, PA, SC, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI
States where censorship was overturned after appeal: NY, OR, WA
States that had no censorship reported: AL, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, KY, MA, ME, MN, MS, NC, NE, NJ, NM, OH, RI, SD, TN, WV
States that had no mail: ND, NH, WY
Connecticut and Illinois are two states that have a history of severe censorship that we need to investigate more. Anyone with information on the status of censorship in these, or any other states, and what needs to be done to deal with it should contact MIM(Prisons).
As we have already reported, California, the biggest prison state in the united $tates, initiated a complete ban on MIM literature, often extending to simple letters with no political content. Yet, the letter explaining the ban only discusses our political line, which is not a legal justification for censorship.
The highest confirmed rate of censorship occurred with MIM literature being sent to Virginia (over 18%). Comrades report that MIM has been labeled a Security Threat Group in this state and that none of our literature is allowed in. The stated reasons for censoring MIM Notes include: promotes violence/terrorist activities, depicts gang signs, depicts violence/illegal activities & written a foreign (non-English) language. The details of this censorship and our efforts to stop it can be viewed on our Virginia campaign page.
A third campaign that is in full swing is being led by some New Afrikan comrades in New York, where possession of literature from the New Afrikan Maoist Party(NAMP) is enough to get people put in the SHU. Clinton Correctional Facility has been particularly repressive, returning any piece of mail from NAMP, including letters protesting the censorship of other mail. Prisoners in New York can write in to get more information on joining this campaign, which will also be made available on our website soon.
When the oppressed stand up for liberation they are regularly labeled gang members and terrorists. So it neither surprises nor offends us to be called such things. The problem we face is that the oppressor wants to make it illegal to be called a "gang member" or a "terrorist" regardless of whether one has violated any laws. The problem they face is how to put forth a definition of "gang" or "terrorist organization" that both applies to MIM and does not violate the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. This, of course, is impossible.
No matter what reasons they give or how they twist their words, the injustice system's attacks on MIM(Prisons) is nothing but naked political repression. They don't want people to think, communicate or affiliate with our ideas.