Under Lock & Key Issue 21 - July 2011

Under Lock & Key

Expand ULK. Send us $50 concealed cash with an address and we'll send you a stack of each issue for the next year. help out
[Organizing] [Congress Resolutions] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

MIM(Prisons) 2011 Congress Summary and Resolutions

Young Lords Party Central Committee Meeting
MIM(Prisons) held a congress in June where we addressed some important theoretical and practical questions for our organizing. We began congress with some study and discussion on the principal contradiction as applied to our work fighting the criminal injustice system. This discussion led to some clarifications and unity as well as an agreement to do more study to develop a position paper on this subject. The congress itself was left with the unifying understanding that the principal task overall is to create public opinion and independent institutions of the oppressed to seize power. All congress discussion strove to apply this principal task.

A discussion of finances and goals led to a re-affirmation that Under Lock & Key is our most important organizing tool. That thought informed discussions about potentially expanding the size and frequency of ULK and tradeoffs with producing and/or mailing other revolutionary literature in to prisoners. With limited time and money, it's important that we make the best use of our resources by carefully considering these decisions.

We changed the distribution policy for ULK this year, sending new people only one sample issue before removing them from the mailing list if we do not hear back from them saying that they want to stay on. This led to an artificial drop in people on our mailing list, and our theory at the time of developing this new policy was that these people were mostly not receiving ULK and/or not interested in it. However, we've had a decline in the rate of new subscribers in the past year that we think might be associated with this changed policy. To test out this theory, we will be re-instating the policy of allowing all people to stay on our mailing list for 6 months before they get cut off if we have not heard from them.

On the positive side, we have had a big increase in regular writers, and the folks contributing solid, high quality articles and art to Under Lock & Key has gone up. We have also become more selective about which articles/letters get typed for posting on the website and consideration for inclusion in ULK. With an excess of good potential articles, we are focusing on the best submissions and trying to work with writers to improve their articles and writing skills when we don't accept something for publication. We are not as strong in this second area as we would like; more should be done to send comrades responses to their article submissions when they are not making the cut for print. We also need to give people more guidance about what we are and are not looking for to print.

Although MIM(Prisons) focuses on work with prisoners, we know that in order to build public opinion we must also reach people on the outside. Our main tool for this work is our website www.prisoncensorship.info, which was relaunched in January 2011 with a new look and added features to bring in more readers. Our web traffic doubled in the past year and we are seeing a very strong growth in interest in our online work. To this end we are going to do some web-based outreach to continue to expand the voices of our comrades behind bars. This will include putting the many art submissions we receive but can't fit into ULK online for people to see.

Anti-Censorship and PLC

Since our winter congress, we have been focusing our anti-censorship efforts on trying to recruit lawyers on the outside to help us take some select prison administrations to court. This is a slow-going process, and we recently decided to refocus back on writing directly to administrators on behalf of prisoners who can't receive mail from us. This has proven to be a fruitful investment in the past, leading to both victories over censorship, and recruiting new comrades to work with MIM(Prisons) and the United Struggle from Within. For MIM(Prisons)'s 2011 annual censorship report, click here.

In other legal work, many of you know that MIM(Prisons) facilitates a Prisoners' Legal Clinic (PLC), picking up a project that MIM used to run. This incarnation has been going since November 2009 and has strayed from its original path of working on issues that are intimately related to our anti-imperialist struggle, and had degraded into a more broad legal strategy discussion group with contributors showing limited initiative to pick up tasks outlined by MIM(Prisons). In upcoming PLC mailings we will be refocusing on our goals and tasks, and referring comrades out for general legal discussion. A PLC mailing went out in June 2011, so PLC contributors should let us know if they haven't gotten theirs yet.

MIM(Prisons)-led Study Groups

Last year we separated our introductory study course into two different levels. The first level is short (only two assignments) and studies two articles written by MIM(Prisons). The second level studies more advanced material and lasts much longer (about one year). We have recently recruited advanced USW members as study group responders, which helps relieve MIM(Prisons) to do other work that can only be done by someone on the outside, and is a great task for someone to do who can't run a study group where they're at due to isolation restrictions. We encourage all prisoners, advanced or beginner, to get together and study revolutionary material. You will get so much more out of it than if you just read something once by yourself!

More advanced study group participants have created a number of study guides over the last year, and comrades are actively working to build the MIM(Prisons) glossary, which should be available for distribution in the next year. Study group coordinators have worked to improve structure and set clear schedules and expectations at all levels over the last year.

United Struggle from Within

Of the hundreds of new people we've had requesting to be put on our mailing list in the last year, 50% of them were recruited by people with various levels of activity within United Struggle from Within (USW); 32% wrote in because they had seen some MIM or MIM(Prisons) literature, and 17% were referred by resource guides or non-prisoners, such as lawyers or family members on the outside. This shows that the USW is successfully completing the task of multiplying subscribers to Under Lock & Key as outlined in the USW Intro Letter and the Second Introductory Letter About MIM(Prisons).

Another USW task is to expand the grievance petition campaign that was initiated in California and spread to Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma. MIM(Prisons) was able to post these petitions online in February 2011 so family members and activists on the outside can print them and mail them to their people experiencing grievance issues. In California the campaign came to a head in February 2011, and the CDCR granted the prisoners a partial victory by slightly reforming their grievance process. Comrades in Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri are still requesting the grievance campaign from us and are submitting them to administrators. For more information on active USW campaigns, click here.

New Policies

Several new policies were passed related to working with prison-based organizations and facilitating correspondence between imprisoned groups/individuals.


Policy on Prisoner-to-Prisoner Correspondence

MIM(Prisons) provides Under Lock & Key as a general forum for public discussion of developments within the prison movement.

MIM(Prisons) provides small group forums for specific projects, involving those prisoners who have done work on, or have a special interest in said project. The principle example of this is the ULK Writers group. But our ability to run such groups is limited.

We do not want to hold the key to all work being done in the anti-imperialist prison movement, because this is not good leadership. Good comrades are rare, so it is in our interest that prisoners develop independent networks of communication with those they want to build with. This is also a positive thing in the case that MIM(Prisons) may be repressed or somehow put to an end.

With this in mind, the following is our policy for facilitating such developments without violating the role and purpose of MIM(Prisons) or jeopardizing the greater movement:

  1. If comrades have outside addresses or are allowed to correspond with other prisoners we will forward their info to another prisoner per request of the persyn whose info is being sent ON A CASE BY CASE BASIS. We will make the determination to do this based on the political value of aiding this connection, with careful consideration to the time and money this costs our very resource-limited program. Every piece of mail we send is less stamps and time we have available to send something else.

  2. Comrades who have demonstrated a certain level of ideological unity with MIM(Prisons) may be assigned as theoretical corresponders. They will be sent correspondence from other comrades through us for response. The response will either be printed in ULK or sent privately to the original writer. In either case, neither persyn's identity is revealed to the other.

    These assignments are to expand the work of MIM(Prisons), and primarily to improve the depth and breadth of our correspondence. Secondarily, this is an important way for our comrades in prison to develop their political line and debate skills, especially those who are in isolation.

  3. We will not serve as a dropbox for third party correspondence. Not only does this set us up for censorship, it takes up limited resources. Theoretical struggle between those not upholding MIM line should be able to be conducted through ULK or within MIM(Prisons)-led study groups. When necessary, one-on-one correspondence with recruits will be assigned to a comrade in MIM(Prisons) or a theoretically advanced USW leader.


Building New Groups Vs. Working with USW and MIM(Prisons)

We only work to build two organizations at this time: MIM(Prisons) and USW. The only organizing group we run for prisoners is the USW leaders group, and even that is mostly done through Under Lock & Key for efficiency and to reach the masses with info on USW work.

We do not think that we, or any other group, serves as the end-all-be-all vanguard organization for North America at this time. There are many roles to be played and more groups to be built. But for security reasons, and this is doubly true in prisons, organizational cells should be primarily location-based. Mass organizations like USW are countrywide because of coordination work through the vanguard organization MIM(Prisons).

Because of security concerns in prisons, and the very stringent restrictions on contact between prisoners, even within the same cell block, MIM(Prisons) encourages those who have unity with our cardinal principles to become USW leaders. We do not recruit prisoners directly into MIM(Prisons) because of the restrictions of the prison system, but we afford these comrades the opportunity to contribute and participate at the level of full comrade in every aspect of organizing work feasible, including encouraging them to help us develop new political line and move forward our organizing strategies.

There are only a few conditions that would merit launching a new prison-based organization:

  1. Comrades launching the organization disagree with MIM(Prisons)'s cardinal principles. If you agree with our cardinal principles, why not work with the established group led by MIM(Prisons): USW? If you think you disagree, it is important to clearly articulate the cardinal principles of your new organization if you hope to organize people around common goals.

  2. A disagreement with MIM(Prisons)'s policy of not recruiting prisoners into MIM(Prisons) while they are behind bars. These comrades may wish to establish a vanguard organization in their location, whose members are subject to democratic centralism and can focus on cell-based organizing.

  3. The case of an LO or other existing mass organization that develops into a revolutionary party and adopts cardinal principles affirming their communist ideology. While we would consider this a very positive development, we caution comrades that this has been tried more than once by the most advanced comrades in an LO, and the limitations of communication with a countrywide group from within prison have always led to insurmountable obstacles in attempts to bring the whole organization together behind communist principles. Further, we maintain that if the members of such a group are not overwhelmingly supporting a move to communist organizing, the advanced elements would be better to leave the group and join or form another, rather than wrecking the existing group from within. The reason we talk about vanguards versus mass organizations is that there are too many contradictions among the masses for everyone to take the leap of forming a scientific communist organization all at once. Existing groups that take up anti-imperialism play a very valuable role in the United Front without becoming communist organizations, often accomplishing things the communists could not.

  4. Comrades who wish to build a new nation-based vanguard. MIM(Prisons) is not a single-nation organization, but we affirm the value of such groups to the revolutionary movement within U.$. borders. However, we caution prisoners looking to form these organizations from scratch that the difficulties in organizing outside of your own prison (or even within your prison when your group is targeted for lock-up in control units, or transfers, and other repression) are significant.

Revolutionary organizations representing different nations, lumpen groups, or regions require self-sufficiency. If comrades trying to launch such organizations continue to fail for lack of resources and support they should be working within USW and MIM(Prisons) on other projects until their conditions change.

USW is a mass organization, and therefore comrades can join USW while maintaining membership in another organization if that organization allows dual membership and that organization does not openly disagree with MIM(Prisons)'s cardinal principles.


On Relations with Prison-Based Organizations

MIM(Prisons) frequently receives statements of support and principles, as well as other contributions of work, from representatives of LOs and other groups that span states. Many of these individuals want their organization name printed with their article. We will always do our best to confirm that those submitting statements can speak for their organizations before we print them in Under Lock & Key or on the web. Part of this process involves observing good consistent work from that organization over a period of time. But we know that there are often organizations that span multiple locations where different political lines arise in different sections of that group. MIM(Prisons) cannot pick representatives for an organization or help with correspondence to get these groups better aligned (beyond what we already do via ULK). Due to the limitations of organizing from behind-bars, we encourage political LOs to consider dividing into location-based cells to ensure each group correctly represents the political line of its members.

For those groups whose material we do print or review, contact info will be printed in ULK when available. The only organizations you can contact via our address are MIM(Prisons) and USW. You may also send United Front for Peace related correspondence to MIM(Prisons). Mail addressed to other organizations but sent to MIM(Prisons) will not be forwarded or returned.

chain
[Censorship] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

July 2011 Censorship Report

2011 Censorship Graph

We rely on information directly from prisoners and returned mail to track our censorship. For the 2011 reporting year, only 72% of all mail was not reported as censored or received. This is a big improvement from last year's 83% unreported mail status. We see two causes for this change. One is that we stopped giving everyone who wrote to us automatic 6 month subscriptions, and instead required confirmation of receipt (or censorship) of a sample issue of Under Lock & Key first. This not only reduced the amount of mail we sent in by 30% from last year, but pushed those who wanted Under Lock & Key to confirm receipt of the sample issue, doubling the amount of people reporting receiving ULK.

Another contributing factor to the high reporting rate is the institution of Unconfirmed Mail Forms, which is a short form we send out to encourage individuals to report the mail they've received. We primarily send these forms to people we suspect are experiencing censorship of our materials. Even if you don't receive one of these forms, you should still tell us everything you have gotten from us since the last time you wrote. Since we ask about the entire history of mail we've sent in, not just in this reporting year, the institution of the Unconfirmed Mail Forms (UMFs) has improved our stats on past years as well. In the last year we've improved the amount of mail unreported for the July 2010 Report from 83% to 78%. We plan to continue using UMFs to better assist in tracking our censorship.

Like we reported in MIM(Prisons) 2011 Congress Summary and Resolutions, in the past six months we have been focusing our resources on building cases and recruiting lawyers rather than writing letters to administrators. Most of the victories in the fight against censorship come from prisoners filing appeals and defending Under Lock & Key in hearings. MIM(Prisons) plays a supporting role in ensuring that the administrators know that someone on the outside is paying attention and publicizing their illegal actions. So while it is not of vital importance that we write these letters, it has still helped overturn censorship in enough cases that we find it worthwhile to pick up this task again.

Victories

A major victory was won against Dona Ana County Detention Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico this year. A prisoner won a partial settlement for censorship issues. The settlement names MIM Distributors and Under Lock & Key and is in favor of prisoners' rights to receive "copied" material. If you are experiencing censorship for copies, write in for this information.

Red Onion State Prison in Virginia has been notorious for censoring Under Lock & Key to the point where we haven't heard of our newsletter getting in since issue 5 (November 2008). The Final Call and Prison Legal News both won settlements in favor of getting their newsletters into Red Onion in recent months. Since the treatment of The Final Call and PLN was similar to the treatment of ULK, we are hoping that those settlements will impact how ULK is received at Red Onion. This is yet to be determined.

Changes

A reasonable expectation for our anti-censorship work is that when we win a victory in a state, we should either continue to have victories there or no longer experience censorship. Of course this expectation wouldn't apply if the conditions within the state change and become more repressive. In the cases of New York, Illinois and Colorado there have been victories in the past but only censorship without victories in this reporting year. In Illinois and Colorado, some victories have been connected to outside pressure put on by MIM(Prisons). This leads to the logical conclusion that victories would be more likely if we continued to apply this pressure.

In New York there doesn't seem to have been a connection between outside pressure and victories. Those reversals in censorship came strictly from the hard work of New York prisoners fighting for their own rights. We are unsure if the current lack of victories is due to a change in conditions in the NYDOCS or a lack of prisoners fighting censorship.

There is a hunger strike happening in Pelican Bay State Prison in California that is well under way. In June 2011 we heard word that our mail had recently started getting in just prior to the start of the strike after experiencing major censorship there for years. In the last year 44% of the mail we've sent into Pelican Bay has been confirmed as received (13% confirmed as censored), compared to the previous reporting year's 25% received (57% censored). Hopefully the hunger strike will be successful in granting people held in PBSP their five core demands, including an end to mail tampering.

Future Struggles

While we try to win as many victories as possible through writing letters, if a facility or state won't follow the law, then it eventually becomes necessary to take them to court. Due to our limited resources and time, we encourage the prisoners affected by the censorship to fight the issue as far as they can. In Arizona we came to one of these brick walls related to the censorship of a study group assignment for "promot[ing] racism and/or religious oppression" without containing any words that refer to race or religion. We reported on this issue in Under Lock & Key 18 and are still struggling to find a lawyer that will take on this important case.

And yes, mailroom staff in California are still clinging to the 2006 memo banning MIM Distributors, which was nullified in a settlement between Prison Legal News and CDCR way back in 2008. Can you believe it? The California institutions that are still favoring this method of censorship are Deuel Vocational Institution and Pelican Bay State Prison.

In Salinas Valley State Prison in California, rather than citing the overturned memo, the Warden creatively assures us that the staff was new at the time and have now been retrained, or claim to simply not see mail from MIM Distributors arriving there. This is completely bogus considering we consistently send in ULKs every time there is a new issue, in addition to persynalized letters and other literature. When we called the Warden out on the fact that there was no change after the "new staff" was "retrained," he simply baselessly told us there is no censorship and "no evidence the mailroom staff are negligent in their duties or MIM Distributors mail was illegally tampered with as you claim." No shit, there's no evidence if you just throw the mail in the trash! While some mail gets into SVSP sometimes, they are still highlighted on our list of brick walls we are determined to break.

In Nebraska the ACLU has picked up on censorship of our materials and has been doing research, writing letters, and may eventually file a suit on behalf of MIM Distributors and the prisoners facing censorship. They have reviewed most if not all issues of Under Lock & Key and have determined that "the prison is violating both [MIM(Prisons)'s] First Amendment rights and the rights of the prisoners." We are excited to be working with the ACLU to hopefully set a precedent in Nebraska that protects people held there against censorship. We encourage any lawyers on the outside to follow their example and get with MIM(Prisons) to fight censorship in prisons!

chain
[U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Assassination Nation: The World's Foremost Terrorist State is America

America is delusional. One need look no further than the Disney Corporation's attempt to trademark "SEAL Team 6," in order to market the image of paid killers as toys for children. How is this acceptable on any level? It's not, it's insane. In fact, a reasonable psychological diagnosis of the American state would conclude that it is severely schizophrenic.

Americans are indoctrinated since childhood to believe that America is a bastion of freedom, equality, and law; a bulwark against the lawlessness, murder, mayhem and terrorism that is rampant in the world today. Nevertheless, the reality is that America is the number one source of lawlessness and terrorism in the world today and has been for quite some time. Moreover, when America isn't committing acts of terrorism, it is abetting those that do, such as the European settler state in Palestine known as Israel.

America has many fine-sounding laws against assassination, hostage-taking, and torture (in a word "terrorism") but follows none of them. See the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, 28 USC §1602 et seq.; Civil Liability for Acts of State Sponsored Terrorism Act of 1996, 28 USC §1605 (i.e., the Flatow Amendment); Antiterrorism Act of 1990, 18 USC §2331, et seq.; and Torture Victims Protection Act of 1991, 28 USC §1350 (i.e., the Alien Tort Statute). Further, America is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, and the International Convention Against Taking Hostages, codified at 18 USC §1203.

All the foregoing laws and conventions expressly forbid the majority of acts taken by the American military in the world, but America ignores them all when it comes to its actions and only applies them to other countries when they dare try to emulate America's propensity for murder and mayhem. Long ago America's rulers chose to follow the old Spanish Colonial aphorism that "the law is to be obeyed but not followed."

For example, in Elahi v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 124 F. Supp. 2d 97, 107 (D.D.C. 2000), the court found Iran's murder of an American citizen fit the definition of an extra-judicial killing, as follows:


First, ...the assassination was a deliberate act. Second, Cyrus Elahi was not afforded the judicial process contemplated by the statute. Third, as this Court stated over twenty years ago, assassination is "clearly contrary to the precepts of humanity as recognized in both national and international law."[citation omitted.]

The American government's murder of Osama bin Laden on International Workers' Day, May 1, 2011, is no different than Iran's alleged murder of Cyrus Elahi and meets all three of the criteria set by the Elahi court. First, the assassination was a deliberate act. Second, he was not arrested and brought to trial, i.e., afforded judicial process. Third, assassination is illegal in accordance with national and international law. Bin Laden was summarily executed because, as a known CIA asset, he would have exposed secrets the American government did not want exposed.

The American government admitted bin Laden was unarmed and surrounded by his children, who had to be cleared out of the way, and at least one of his wives, who was shot in the leg, so as not to interfere in the U.S. Navy SEALs' hit. And hit it was, as bin Laden was shot once in the chest and once in the head in the classic assassination style known as the double-tap. No doubt there were powder burns surrounding his head wound, where the coup de grace was administered by these cold-blooded killers as he lay on the floor of his home, but we will never know as his body was promptly disposed of as is common in many professional hits.

Earlier the same day, it was reported that Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi's youngest son and three grandchildren were murdered by NATO bombs dropped on their home. Whether it was done by American planes or not is of little matter, as we all know if the American government didn't support this bombing it wouldn't have happened. This was nothing less than an assassination attempt, that included the intentional bombing of civilians in their home, which was done in direct violation of the UN mandate to protect civilians in Libya via a no-fly zone and the laws and conventions cited above.

It should come as no surprise that the assassination target was Qadhafi, who was said to have been at the home and narrowly escaped along with his wife, as the American government has been trying to murder him for years. President Reagan had Qadhafi's home bombed on April 14, 1986, successfully murdering women and children but failing in his attempt to murder Qadhafi. President Obama has proclaimed his authority to assassinate anyone overseas, including American citizens, without a trial, so murdering Qadhafi would be no problem for him. Wives, daughters and sons are all just collateral damage.

America has never hesitated to murder civilians, men, women and children, in their homes. In WWII, America fire-bombed civilian targets in Germany and Japan's cities and used nuclear weapons on Japanese civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as the Japanese government tried to surrender. Post-WWII, the American government has targeted the people of Korea, the Congo, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Haiti, Yugoslavia, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and, now, Libya. My apologies if I left anyone out.

This campaign of control through terror is by no means limited to the rest of the world. Here in the good ol' USA, on May 13, 1985, the infamous "Mothers' Day Massacre" occurred, perpetrated by the police, who murdered 11 MOVE organization members, including children, in their home and incinerated an entire neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with the full cooperation of the American government, who supplied the explosives used in the massacre.

Not to be outdone, the FBI murdered 76 people, including children, in Waco, Texas, by blowing up their home and burning them alive on April 19, 1993. The FBI has proven time and again that it is willing to murder whoever, wherever, whenever, from Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in Chicago, Illinois, on December 4, 1969, to Randall Weaver's wife and son at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in August 1992. "No crime too foul" ought to be the FBI motto.

Speaking of mottos, the infamous mass-murderer and war criminal Harry S. Truman had a motto: "the buck stops here." No doubt, the buck should stop with the American presidents, but it also reaches back into the cesspools known as corporate boardrooms. Consequently, it is time to end this criminal reign of terror. Every single one of these criminals in high office, national or corporate, should be tried and hung as the murderers they are. To continue to allow them to run free, let alone run the country, makes us all complicit in their assassination nation. It is high time we, as Americans, put an end to our complicity and our complacency once and for all!

chain
[Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

CDCR Gives Lipservice, Food Strike Spreads

Three weeks into the California Food Strike the CDCR has given it's official response, which can be summed up as "We'll look into it." On July 15, the CDCR made a proposal to the strikers at Pelican Bay to end the strike without promising any changes. The prisoners declined the offer and continued to fast, calling it "smoke and mirrors" and "insulting."(1) These guys are willing to die for basic rights they've been denied for years, decades for many, and CDCR comes to the table with nothing.

Our inquiries received similar canned responses from the Warden about "operating in full accordance to [all] law... while providing for the ethical, humane treatment of all prisoners." Even more outrageously, he claims they provide "the ability to safely program and actively participate in their rehabilitation." The strike is on because there are no programs or rehabilitation!

Those in close contact with the striking prisoners report that some in Pelican Bay who had stopped fasting have returned to the strike in response to the CDCR's negligence.(1) We've also received word from 4 comrades in the California Institution for Men in Chino that they have just begun a hunger strike in solidarity after getting news from MIM(Prisons).

Other recently received reports include that United Struggle from Within organized comrades in Kern Valley State Prison for a 24 hour food strike in solidarity. In High Desert State Prison, where the pigs were serving double the normal amount of food to prevent a hunger strike, a number of comrades didn't eat from July 1 thru 3rd. Whole sections of California State Prison - Corcoran are still on strike and doctors are coming in regularly to weigh the prisoners.

chain
[United Front] [Control Units] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

BORO Calls on Leaders of Lumpen Orgs to Step Up

Within the Black Order Revolutionary Organization we educate to create real meaningful change. The old saying says "action makes the front." But to take this analysis a step further, "bold, intelligent, revolutionary actions make the front." The war is real and it's a war that is physical as well as psychological and educational. The imperialist strives to physically as well as psychologically dominate, subjugate, manipulate and control the masses in prison and out of prison by creating and engineering social conditions that fit their agenda. The enemy of humanity understands the driving force behind action is man's mental orientation. So if they control our mental atmosphere and mental appetites they will control our social behavior. This is the reason why we as front line Askaris must always understand our greatest weapon is a correct analysis of concrete conditions as we strive to crush imperialism/colonialism in its total. To do that the Askari must keep his/her mind sharp.

Comradez, I've been on lock down in a federal SMU program since 2008. Since the fedz closed Marion max the fedz have created the same lockdown scheme with the Special Management Units (SMU). It continues to be for the express purpose of controlling outlaw/anti-authoritarian revolutionary conduct. Every organizational structure across amerika can be found held within the lockdown yet there is no meaningful dialogue between parties, groups or organizations to effect meaningful change.

The project for peace in prison is a foundation laid so that inter-organization/multi-organizational communication can begin. But for the project for peace to work we need the leaders and spokesmen for these street and/or progressive organizations to accept the peace project. In a lot of these organizations, directions flow down the chain of command. The Latin King wrote in [to ULK] about Kingism, which was good. But he is only one man and cannot make an organizational commitment to accept the peace in prison project. That must come from Lord Gino, their crown. So I am calling on all leaders nationally from the Crips, Bloods, Vice Lords, Latin Kings, Mighty Mighty Black Nation, G.D.s, and all those in between to unite in principle and contribute to our collective struggles. T-fly, Bay Bay, Minister RKO for the Vice Lords where y'all at? G.D. Crusher holler at us brotha, Crown Prince AB for the MMBN, OG Mojo New York Damuz and all the other unmentioned men and women that have a voice in their organizational community, let's squad up so that the peace in prisons project can be real and used as a weapon.


MIM(Prisons) replies: We echo this call to those in leadership positions to represent what so many of the LOs already have in their bylaws and histories. But we want to reach all potential comrades with the message of the United Front for Peace in Prisons, from the capo to the pee wee on the street. While some of the leaders mentioned above could have a quick impact, we've learned from the past the short-comings of LOs whose leadership went radical, but the soldiers only followed the leader and never embraced the movement. It is not sustainable. Slowly recruiting a hundred local chapters or representatives to sign on to the Statement of Principles will mean more in the end. And building solidarity between organizations around common struggles at each locality is how we can build real peace. In many places this is already happening.

chain
[National Oppression] [Civil Liberties] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Phoney Gang Debate to Discredit Strike Support

The CDCR is trying to blame the organizing of the statewide food strike in California prisons on gangs. Meanwhile, the liberal line being put forth in the bourgeois media is that activists dismiss such accusations. Somehow prisoners across California, and even those transferred out of state, participated in solidarity with the food strike on July 1. We know that MIM(Prisons) was one of many organizations with newsletters that contributed to spreading the word, but none of us initiated or did the groundwork to ensure the effectiveness of this campaign. CDCR Spokesperson Terry Thorton tried to explain this as an indication of "the reach and the influence that prison gangs have on other inmates." She went on to say, "It's one of the reasons we have a Security Housing Unit, to remove gang members influence on other general population inmates."(1)

The media is juxtaposing the pigs' assertions about gang leadership to the denials of activists to paint strike supporters as idealistic know-nothings. The prison bureaucrats make careers out of being experts on gangs and criminology, and they rely on the public to trust in their expertise to keep them "safe."

In reality, this pseudo-debate being played out in the media is painting an idealistic view of prison society that ignores history. The pigs know that groups allied to the Black Panthers and other national liberation movements used to lead the prison masses. They know because they broke that up, partly by using long-term isolation, and they encouraged oppressed nation groups with more criminal tendencies to develop with bribery and by turning a blind eye. Now they condemn the monsters they created to justify more repression.

The line MIM(Prisons) has been pushing since before the hunger strike began is in defense of the First Amendment right to association. While countless people have been placed into gangs they've never even heard of by state officials in California, there are many in the SHU who are not trying to fool anyone into thinking that they aren't members of a lumpen organization considered an enemy of the CDCR. This is evident in the statements of the strike leaders which talk about uniting all "races," including "northern" and "southern" Mexicans. Aztlán is one oppressed nation that the pigs have helped draw a line through by promoting criminal organizations that must compete. It is only the fascist conditions within California prisons that prevents prisoners from even being able to speak of their organizational ties.

When we say there are comrades in Pelican Bay SHU who are respected leaders of lumpen organizations, there is no criticism implied there. Some of those comrades have worked tirelessly to orchestrate a Peace Accord between the major divisions within the California prison population, among many other positive projects for their people, including the current campaign. The lie that is promoted by the "tough on crime" bourgeois media is that to be a member of a lumpen organization you must be an evil persyn. Just like they did for Tookie, there is no redemption for the lumpen under imperialism, even when they do more than anyone around them to change the world for the better.

Central to the demands of the striking prisoners is that the state cannot claim to abide by its own rules while it punishes people using secret evidence and petty charges like who they talk to or get mail from, what books they read or tattoos they have. The bureaucrats hide behind the presumed neutrality of the bourgeois courts to defend the torture they put these prisoners through.

The striking comrades are some of the individual oppressed nationals that the imperialists find the most threatening within their own borders. That is why they are being tortured in long-term isolation. Yet, by all indications, the state is going to let these brothers die rather than grant them Constitutional rights to association.

The oppressed nations are free to organize in this country, as long as it's on the Amerikans' terms. If not, then even talking about such organizations will get prisoners thrown in long-term isolation and will get supporters on the streets censored.

chain
[Abuse] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

More on Anti-Strike Propaganda

"Solitary confinement is not something that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations engages in," according to CDCR Spokesperson Terry Thorton.(1) According to our surveys, California has around 14,444 people in Control Units, defined as "permanently designated prisons or cells in prisons that lock prisoners up in solitary or small group confinement for 22 or more hours a day with no congregate dining, exercise or other services, and virtually no programs for prisoners." This is more people than any other state.

Thorton claims that prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison's Security Housing Unit (SHU) have access to cable TV, books, yard time, the law library, weekly visits with family, and correspondence courses.

Yes, it is true that prisoners can occasionally receive books through the mail, as long as they aren't by or about Blacks or Mexicans. If you're not in SHU yet, such books might be used to validate you as a gang member and throw you in SHU on an indeterminate sentence. Otherwise they are often just censored as "gang material."

Correspondence courses are occasionally allowed, too. But we've confirmed 35 incidents of study materials from a MIM(Prisons) correspondence course being censored in California, 15 of which were at Pelican Bay. We've also been told that a radio show that broadcasts to Pelican Bay was shut down there after broadcasting a correspondence course on a show popular among prisoners.

Interaction with family, inmates and staff is greatly exaggerated by Thorton. We've known comrades whose only physical contact with another humyn being for many years has been guards putting cuffs on their wrists. And while Thorton makes family visits out to be a regular thing, the distance to Crescent City, California for most families is the first barrier that makes visits rare at best. One family member who spoke with MIM(Prisons) at a table while we did outreach in support of the strike described how they went to visit their brother at Pelican Bay once and had to talk through a TV screen. They have not gone back since. Others who visit Pelican Bay talk about how their freedom of association is limited just as the prisoners' is. If they are seen speaking to the wrong persyn (another visitor) while going on visit they can be restricted or banned from coming back.

Thorton described "the two ways" one can get into SHU in California, painting prisoners as either violent attackers or mob bosses running organized crime. Yet, as those who were there when Pelican Bay was being conceived can attest, it was built in response to those who dared to organize and stand up for their rights as the thousands of prisoners who went on food strike across California have done. As prisoners continue to organize and move in a positive and united direction, it will become harder and harder for the state to paint the organizations of the oppressed as enemies that deserve any torture or punishment they receive.

chain
[Control Units] [International Connections] [National Oppression] [Political Repression] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

SHU is War on Aztlán


[Editor's note: We want to remind our readers that USW is open to anti-imperialist prisoners of all nationalities, just as the strike is being led by prisoners of all nationalities. MIM(Prisons) agrees with the line put forth here, because it is by building movements for national liberation
from imperialism that we can best conquer the oppressive system we currently live in. And any genuine national liberation movement supports the liberation of all people. We want to be clear about this because there have been reports of the CDCR attempting to fuel divisions among the prisoners on strike along long-standing organizational and national divisions as they always do.]

A people's salute goes out to all who find themselves under lock and key in Amerika! I wanted to write and send a brief update on the conditions here in Pelican Bay coming from one of the participants of the hunger strike (HS) that began two weeks ago, on July 1 of 2011. I figured the historic precedent that the HS has accomplished thus far is worth noting as the cause of the non-violent protest is one in which many people find themselves in across Amerika. The material conditions that have forced prisoners to deny themselves nutrients and sustenance are not exclusively bound to Pelican Bay, California. Whenever imperialist lackeys run a country they will also be expected to round up the most rebellious and potentially revolutionary populations and bury these people alive as these are the ones who pose the highest threat to the ruling class.

The fact that the protest is in regard to torture chambers known as the Security Housing Unit (SHU) in California, a state that has more prisons than any other state in a country that has more prisoners than any other country, should be examined more closely for what it means to oppressed nation prisoners in general but to people of Aztlán in particular. The fact that the state of California, which is geographically in Aztlán, has initiated what amounts to a war on the people of Aztlán by setting up more koncentration kamps (prisons) in Aztlán than anywhere else in Amerika, along with incarcerating more Latinos in California than any other oppressed nations, and the fact that Latinos are now the largest population of captives held in Federal prisons, and the fact that most of the prisoners held in California SHUs are Latinos, all show that oppressed nation are under attack via the injustice system, and that prisoners from the Aztlán Nation are particularly targeted in Aztlán. California is also the state with the largest Latino population in Amerika.(1) Thus the scope of what is taking place should be seen for what it is - the assault on Aztlán is real and should be met as such.

What is occurring here at Pelican Bay is an attempt to break the will and desire to resist state repression plain and simple. The SHU was opened in 1989 and this facility was designed to isolate and deprive people of the most basic "human rights." Things like human contact, a cell mate, the ability to eat salt in one's food, the ability to correspond with friends and family via the mail, the ability to have natural sunlight or even to be able to read political literature have all been stripped from prisoners in the SHU. Brutality here has been documented for decades. Beatings and physical torture have even been brought to the courts to no avail. Recently the U.$. Supreme Court has ruled that California prisons constitute "cruel and unusual punishment." They are telling the state of California to clean up its act.

Medical services are even used as barter. One prisoner was told if he wanted medical treatment then he should "debrief" (snitch on another prisoner). This is the depraved culture that has thrived here in SHU. This is a world where prisoners who are most often poor Brown and Black people are subject to a whole plethora of experimental depravity which in some cases would probably have Mengele raise an eyebrow.

It is well known that solitary confinement causes very real psychological damage even if used for a few weeks, yet here in SHU prisoners have endured solitary for years and even decades in some cases. Human rights groups have condemned solitary confinement, yet the SHU continues this brutal practice. Once here in SHU the only way back to general population is to snitch on others (even if it is false accusations), die, or parole. Keep in mind the vast majority sent to SHU have not committed any crime or physical acts but are labeled a "gang member or associate" and thus locked in this control unit for one's supposed gang affiliation, i.e. one's beliefs. They are locking one in a solitary confinement cell, sometimes for life, for what amounts to thought crimes!

Placement in the "hole" or SHU is frequently due to political affiliation of prisoners who are members or may associate with revolutionary groups or lumpen organizations that the state labels as "gangs." In their play on words, any attempt at oppressed nations to organize in a way that is not state sanctioned, is a gang. Similarly, they call uprisings "riots" in a derogatory way, to hide the real causes behind them. But many times people aren't even members of any organization and are falsely accused by others who are trying to get themselves out of SHU. In either case, prisoners held in SHU conditions overwhelmingly qualify as political prisoners.

The world would gasp should they find out the thought police are goosestepping in lock step here in Pelican Bay, jack boots and all. The Gestapo in Nazi Germany rounded up communists and others and placed them in kamps and jails under "preventative custody." And now the imperialists' first line of defense keeps oppressed nations in neo-kamps (SHUs) under "validation custody." This is what the lumpen face in the United $tates; this is our apple pie in the home of the incarcerated, land of the oppressed.

Yet, prisoners have always defied the lash, because as Mao said, where you find much repression you'll find much resistance. This is the dialectical materialism that manifests itself and blossoms, even within cinderblock gardens, in the form of our united resistance.

The first of the five demands issued for the hunger strike here at Pelican Bay is to end group punishment. This happens frequently where one prisoner breaks a rule and that whole group or ethnicity will be locked down or penalized in some way. We are talking about one person doing something against prison rules and two or three hundred people are then locked down for months over it. This is common practice and is meant to pit prisoners against prisoners.

The second demand is to abolish debriefing and modify active/inactive gang status criteria. Debriefing is used to force people held in SHU to give up names and activities of others in order to leave SHU - even if the information provided is false. The accused cannot even present a good defense as the informants are not identified and often times the accusations themselves are considered "confidential." Active/inactive status is when after six years if one has no new activity one may be given "inactive" gang status and released to the general population. But this is rare since anything qualifies as "activity." For example, participating in this hunger strike will be considered new gang activity.

The third demand is that the CDCR complies with recommendations from a 2006 U.S. Commission which called for an end to isolation. The fourth demand is to provide adequate food. The food here would make a racoon's stomach turn. Often we don't know what it is we are eating and we get no salt, so all food is bland. For punishment often times we get boiled beans with no salt, and this has gone on for years. The fifth demand is to expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU prisoners. This means those of us who must stay in SHU will be able to have educational courses, art supplies, and the ability to make a phone call, which some have not done for 30 or more years.

These points are basic things that should be given, especially to people who have not broken any rules to be placed in SHU in the first place! What is happening here in Pelican Bay SHU amounts to crimes against humanity. To have people in solitary confinement in some cases for decades is incredible, and it's incredible that this has gone on so long and that for the most part the public has been silent over this. Well, today the light is shining on these torture chambers and Pelican Bay prisoners will no longer be silent while taking the lash.


Notes:
1. The New York Times Almanac 2011. p. 285.

chain
[Campaigns] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Thousands of California Prisoners & Supporters Rally for Weeks

The campaign initiated July 1st by prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) against the torturous conditions of long-term isolation has received broad support going on for weeks now. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation [sic] (CDCR) has admitted that 6600 prisoners refused food trays last weekend across 13 of their 33 prisons.(1) Meanwhile, numerous organizations have organized demonstrations and mobilized support across the United $tates and Kanada leading up to and following the start of the hunger strike. Over five thousand people have signed an online petition pledging their support. Volunteers with MIM(Prisons) have interacted with thousands of people on the streets inside and outside of California with info on the hunger strike, gathering dozens of signed letters and a handful of donations.

According to CDCR 1,600 prisoners remain on food strike one week after the start.(2) The media is reporting a sharp drop in the number of prisoners refusing food in a tone that implies the strike is losing steam. But this is hardly the case. Many prisoners we've heard from outside of Pelican Bay only pledged to strike one or two days in solidarity. One reason for this is because it is hard for them to know when the strike ends or what is happening despite the efforts of outside supporters to send updates. Even in Pelican Bay many of those protesting specified the number of days they would fast beforehand. Only a minority of participants have pledged an indefinite strike until the demands are met. The rest of us work in solidarity with them until the end.

Despite all the noise being made, word from those organizing to mediate negotiations is that the CDCR is refusing to negotiate with strikers or mediators.(3) We know the CDCR has been talking to hunger strike organizers, but it seems that no resolution is in the works as of July 8.

We've seen the ripples of this campaign in our own work as we connect with many new people in California and reconnect with people who we have been cut off from by the state. We've also seen record traffic on our website with the hunger strike campaign page and the article featuring the prisoners' demands bringing in a lot of hits. This increase in readership is a direct result of the organizing of prisoners in California. However we must admit that a good chunk of the traffic is coming from state officials trying to gather intelligence from our reporting.

Donations we've collected so far are less than a tenth of the printing and postage expenses for outreach, mailing protest letters and sending communications to prisoners in California. As always, we can use donations of money and labor to keep up with this important work.

Building Support

The hunger strike comes almost a year and a half after a formal complaint was filed with the governor of California regarding the torture and violation of Constitutional rights that prisoners face in Pelican Bay. After being ignored by official channels, they turned to outside supporters who came together and organized a press campaign and negotiation support. There was enough lead time that MIM(Prisons) was able to send campaign info to all of our California subscribers prior to the strike. We also hit the streets to gather signed letters of support and explain to people the importance of this struggle leading up to the strike.

pelican bay rally
Demonstrators support the demands of Pelican Bay prisoners at a march to reduce incarceration in California marking 40 years of the U.$. war on the oppressed called the "War on Drugs."

A rally in San Francisco in June against the drug war featured the Pelican Bay prisoners' demands prominently. A comrade representing MIM(Prisons) spoke on the upcoming hunger strike, stressing that Pelican Bay was developed as a tool to repress political organizing in the California prison system and that those being targeted with indefinite SHU terms are largely leaders and influential people among the imprisoned oppressed nations. A former California prisoner also spoke about the torturous conditions in Pelican Bay, urging people to support the hunger strike.

During the march, supporters of the "Revolutionary Communist Party - USA" (rcp=u$a) were chanting, "Once we have the revolution, there'll be no mass incarceration!" Which revolution are they talking about? Even on a simple issue like opposing torture in prisons, rcp=u$a's idealist/chauvinist colors showed through. As we point out in every issue of Under Lock & Key, all Amerikans should be viewed as criminals who need to reform under the dictatorship of the proletariat. When the revolution finally hits U.$. soil there will likely be an increase in incarceration of U.$. citizens, as the majority of the world experiences freedom they have not seen for centuries. The difference is that proletarian prisons focus on reform and reintegration into society not torture and isolation as the imperialist system does.

tabling pelican bay strike
Comrades spread word of the upcoming strike at a Juneteenth festival celebrating the struggle of the Black nation for freedom in Amerika.

The Campaign Continues

Once the strike began, MIM(Prisons) stepped up efforts to reach the public about the sacrifices and struggles of our comrades in prison. While comrades were able to reach visitors coming to CDCR prisons with fliers and letters of support, repression was reported from a few public spaces inside and outside California. In one case police forced comrades to leave for accepting donations without registering with the state, in others merely handing out fliers on public property got shut down. One police officer claimed that activists could not set up a table on a public sidewalk to solicit support for the strike, contradicting California laws and illegally shutting down our free speech. There are contradictions in a country that locks 100,000 of its citizens in isolation cells and prevents people from distributing leaflets in public space to support their struggle against torture. Their repression only strengthens resistance, and this campaign is a prime example of that. It is ludicrous to consider the label "free country" for a country that does not even provide equal access to political dialogue to all people.

In addition to talking to people on the street, comrades made efforts to reach people through independent media and art. MIM(Prisons) hosted a video clip on its website from the documentary Unlock the Box explaining the history of control units and how they were developed to repress those whose politics were in opposition to the state. Comrades also did outreach at hip hop shows and talked to a revolutionary Chicano group called BRWN BFLO who pledged active support to spreading the word about the hunger strike. Allies in the United $tates and Kanada hosted screenings of Unlock the Box as part of the campaign. Other organizations did interviews and programs on various radio shows.

Those doing outreach reported many interactions with people who had been in Pelican Bay State Prison, in some cases multiple people in the span of a couple hours. All strongly agreed with our criticisms of the conditions there. However, some people concluded that there was nothing that could be done, and that oppressed nations will always be treated this way.

There is a common attitude among current prisoners as well that struggling is useless. The SHU was invented to reinforce that idea. The best way to change those people's minds is by showing them the possibilities. We do that by fighting smartly, as these comrades in Pelican Bay have done resulting in people all over the world knowing about their fight. Serious, diligent organizing work is needed in our struggles for liberation, and basic rights such as the right of association, communication with the outside world and access to educational materials and programs. There are no quick fixes.

chain
[Rhymes/Poetry] [United Front] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

United Front for Peace


Fuck the hatred
It's time for changes
To free this world from the oppressor
It's time for us to make some better arrangements
In order to make our lives better
Revolution's the lesson
Not oppression as a profession
Anti-imperialist
Being groomed for a new session
Educate each other
As we're one within this struggle
United in this Front for Peace
Because Revolution is on the bubble

chain
[Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Support Freedom of Association in Prisons!

Unkle Sam

On this fourth day of July, Amerikans all across the country are celebrating their freedoms with beer and bangs. Yet in the same country there are more people locked in tiny cages for 22 to 24 hours per day, with little or no access to the outside world, than in any other country in the world. In Pelican Bay State Prison in California many are in such "control units" because of who they associate with, and they were put there based on secret evidence. For any student of the U.$. Constitution or the Bill of Rights it is obvious that the promised freedoms of Amerikkka are not granted to its internal semi-colonies.

Today we are sending dozens of signed letters from residents of California who share our concerns for prisoners forced to live in these torturous conditions and who support those in Pelican Bay engaging in a peaceful hunger strike.

Warden Greg Lewis
Pelican Bay State Prison
P.O. Box 7000
Crescent City, CA 95531-7000

5 July 2011

Dear Warden Lewis,

Included with this letter are dozens of letters from residents of California who are concerned for the welfare of the prisoners in Pelican bay State Prison. We are sending these letters to you in support of the prisoners on hunger strike. The letters are asking you to do all that is within your power to do to change the conditions in PBSP to meet the strikers' demands.

We have also forwarded copies of these letters to CDCR Internal Affairs and CDCR Office of the Ombudsman.

Sincerely,

MIM Distributors
P.O. Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

To view a copy of the general letter that people signed, click here.

Please stop any abuses that are going on inside the prison complex.
- Oakland, CA

Stop locking up prisoners who need other kinds of help (drug, etc.) P.S. Wasting my tax dollars 4 real!
- Berkeley, CA

P.S. U.S. signed the Convention Against Torture. It has been ratified. It is the law of the land. Please do not violate our laws! Thanks.
- Richmond, CA

Please attend to this!!! NOW!
- Oakland, CA

I just don't understand how people in this day & time are still so devilish, when they got power & it's a very fucked up feeling because we are human beings & you all treat us like shit!
-Oakland, CA

Dehumanizing prisoners is sickness; you are helping commit crimes against humanity by abuses and deprivation of basic rights and needs of prisoners.
-Eureka, CA

In the letters to Warden Lewis, the California cities of Hercules, San Francisco, San Pablo, El Sobrante, Stockton, Napa, Chula Vista and Vacaville were also represented and supporters have forwarded letters they wrote from as far as BC, Canada.

chain
[United Front] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

National Liberation Revolution of Oppressed Persons Signs UF for Peace

Myself and others have founded the National Liberation Revolution of Oppressed Persons (NLROP), to educate and liberate the oppressed and disenfranchised. Furthermore, to end the suffrage and disparagement of formerly incarcerated persons who are never truly free or relieved of their debt to society, constantly being subjected to various civil and humanitarian rights violations - "The New Jim Crow." We fully support the United Front for Peace in Prisons, and the principles thereof as proclaimed by MIM(Prisons). The NLROP also fully supports the Prisoners' Bill of Rights as proclaimed by Incarcerated Citizens Coalition, the internal chapter of the Human Rights Coalition.

I have discussed the principles of UF for Peace with our members, and as Chairman I speak on behalf of the NLROP and do confirm our signing and full support of the United Front for Peace, and the principles thereof.

A committee of seven members from different affiliations is currently being constructed to oversee day-to-day operations in and outside of prison. Our first newsletter magazine is scheduled for production and release October 2011.

The NLROP is currently comprised primarily of incarcerated and affiliated persons within Tennessee prison colonies. However we do not limit ourselves or pose any restrictions on expansion, and welcome with open arms those who are committed to the cause and agree with our guidelines and/or principles internally, and that which we agree to as a whole, externally.

The reason UF principles are important to us as a movement is that they transcend those principles and guidelines that we already follow and believe in, and expound on such in a very clear and concise manner.

chain
[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Pelican Bay Prisoner Joins Hunger Strike to Protest Sensory Deprivation

On June 21 I received the [Hunger Strike] campaign update and I do truly admire your organization attempting to liberate not only confined prisoners but all oppressed people within the nation. Thank you!

Tomorrow, on July 1, I will most definitely be participating in the mass hunger strike here in Pelican Bay State Prison. I'm under lock and key isolated in administrative segregation awaiting transfer to Corcoran SHU for over 17 months now, and this inhumane, dehumanizing and repressive treatment of these control unit prisoners must come to an end. I am tired of being targeted and psychologically tortured in solitary confinement, which causes severe mental harm to the point of having conversations with myself. This is a form of sensory deprivation and must stop immediately.

Another reason why I will be protesting along with the SHU prisoners is because here in CDCR there are no simple programs such as tattoo removal programs. Some prisoners like myself were incarcerated as juveniles and tried as adults, and we made mistakes by putting tattoos on our bodies. So by attempting to truly rehabilitate myself I want all my tattoos removed. As a prisoner I should have access to programs like this. It makes me question, does California Department of Corrections deserve the title of "rehabilitation?"


MIM(Prisons) responds: There's no question about it, they do not deserve the title "Rehabilitation" which was added years ago without any change in their practice or policies to justify the term. Former prisoners who spent years in these isolation cells can attest to that. The lucky ones have family or find organizations with the resources to support them. But too many are stuck in destructive cycles. Meanwhile, there is a criminal mentality that penetrates the whole populace in the United $tates based in capitalist individualism. It is up to revolutionaries to develop independent institutions that can truly address the rehabilitation needs of the oppressed lumpen who have more interest in revolutionary change than most Amerikans who sit idly by while hundreds of thousands of people are tortured in their country.

chain
[United Front] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Revolutionary Gangstas Join United Front for Peace

I'd like to ask that my organization, Revolutionary Gangstas, be listed as an affiliate of the United Front for Peace in Prisons and the USW. I define Gangsta as one who doesn't conform to the rule of society (sheep mentality), one who refuses to be "hoodwinked" or "pickled" by the powers that be. In addition to concepts of Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, and Independence, we incorporate and utilize: Power, Honor, Honesty, Truth, Respect, Control, and Liberty. We strive against obscurantism (opposition to the spread of knowledge), imperialism and capitalism. We strive to educate members of LOs that the purpose of founding of respective LOs was not to fight and kill each other over colors, points on a star or geographical areas that don't belong to us. We emphasize that as long as LOs suffer from internecine disputes that the real enemy (oppressors) can continue unchecked. The founders (myself and another prisoner) as members of the Gangster Disciples have started by instructing members of that LO to stop engaging in self-destructive behavior and following misguided and unfounded "theories" of what being in a LO means now and get back to original purpose. We put emphasis on education and self-determination. We're accepting of all LO members who can unite under the ideology of all power of all people (oppressed) and sacrifice selfish desires for the benefit of the whole.

chain
[Censorship] [California Correctional Institution] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Grievance Petition Copies Refused in Library

I am an American Indian here in California Correctional Institution who has had all the problems with the 602 grievance procedure here. The so-called Appeal Coordinator, K. Sampson, has repeatedly (16 times!!!) sent my appeal back to me because of complete bullshit reasons. So I wrote to your legal clinic, and you provided me with an awesome petition to send to the director about my, and all of our, appeal issues. Thank you!

But again I, and all of us on my side, have run up against a potential problem. I took the petition to the law library and the CO refused to copy it. Even when I signed a trust withdraw slip to pay for it myself! She told me that the petition was all crap and that I should be written up for simply having it. She tried to take it from me. I had to "cause a scream" and get at a sergeant finally who gave it back to me. He told me he knew that our 602 process was crap and good luck! You believe that?!?

Is there any way that your office can please send me enough for at least the 10 very good people on my tier? Every single one of them was very impressed and wanted one of the petitions for unjust grievance procedures appeals process. Everyone wanted to loan it from me to get it copied, but our law librarian refuses to allow us to copy the petition. She told me if I didn't like her decisions to "appeal it" and then laughed in my face!

Thank you so much for everything you have done to help me further the struggle and get out of this U.$. gulag.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Write us to get a copy of the grievance petition for your state if you reside in California, Missouri, Oklahoma or Texas, or a generic petition that you can customize for your state if you are anywhere else.

chain
[Abuse] [Campaigns] [California State Prison, Sacramento] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Prisoner in CSP-Sacramento Calls on Warden to Address Hunger Striker Demands

Dear Warden Lewis,

I'm writing to express my concerns for the inhuman treatment being inflicted on these disciplinary-free prisoners housed at Pelican Bay State Prison's short-corridor Group D. The conditions there must change because of the nature of the situation. Please allow these people room to have phone calls, send pictures to their loved ones, etc. If we have no respect for the U.S. Constitution how shall I, as a free man one day, respect or honor the rights of others, after witnessing these wrong doings? I'm facing a real challenge when I return to society in September 2011. If we continue to strive to solve problems we must begin in our community and this is one of the largest communities I've ever been a part of and I believe that the strike on July 1, 2011 will begin the process for a collective change as one unity.

I have faith you will resolve the problem.

Sincerely,
[a prisoner in California State Prison - Sacramento]

I will strike with these men in unity.

chain
chain
[Campaigns] [California Correctional Institution] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Tehachapi SHU Prisoner Supports PBSP Hunger Strike

This letter is in response to the Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) hunger strike. First I'd like to say thank you for not only your ongoing support for us prisoners but also your truthfulness of viewing the facts of the matter. I have passed on the info you mailed me. I have spread the word of actions being taken by prisoners at PBSP-SHU. I can not say for sure how many will join this protest. However I can speak for myself and I find one must be willing to lead and/or follow with common sense to ensure change. For only by us prisoners making a stand - not allowing this injustice to pass - can we stop it.

chain
[Campaigns] [California Correctional Institution] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Self-help Advocacy Group Supports Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers

Below is an excerpt of a letter that was sent along with a resource packet to the Pelican Bay Warden and Pelican Bay Institutional Gang Investigations.

Greetings from The Yard. I am a prisoner that is providing a service to my incarcerated peers. I provide resources for self-help programs, rehab, housing and career info. It is my understanding that inmates in the SHU corridor are going to strike due to certain demands that they are asking for.

One demand that interested me was the opportunity to receive self-help and religious materials. I feel that The Yard can meet that demand. I have put together a self-help and religious resource packet that can be given to an inmate requesting self-help, religious or parole resources. All of these programs can be utilized by an inmate through the mail without any type of facilitator or supervision... The resource packet includes an application for parole resources. SHU inmates most likely do not have access to these resources. They can send these applications to The Yard and dedicated peers involved themselves in self-help programs will fill them out and send them back. The Yard has an ever-growing data bank of up to date resources for all of California...

chain
[United Front] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

SAMAEL Signs on to UF for Peace

I am writing this on behalf of S.A.M.A.E.L, aka "The Ministry". We are a small autonomous revolutionary organization devoted to engaging in, and fomenting, resistance via individual, tribal, direct, and guerilla action in the cultural, social and political milieu. Our ideology is within the ambit of class consciousness and holistic resistance, "each according to will and ability."

We feel the Statement of Principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons is, in spirit, consistent with our own charter, oaths, and declarations which stress the need for unity in the face of a common enemy and resisting any "doctrines which divide us."

This being said, we accept this unilateral invitation and ratify the Statement of Principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons in the spirit of solidarity and the advancement of our common goals.

chain
[Censorship] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

We Must Fight ULK Denials (Part 2)

This is a follow-up article to the We Must Fight ULK Denials article I wrote, published in ULK 20. For my comrades who follow the news published in ]ULK, you will recall that I was denied my right to receive ULK issue 18. I am now sitting here writing this article with issues 19 and 20 in front of me.

After being denied ULK issue 18, I sent the publication and denial form to the Directors Review Committee (DRC) for an appeal of the denial of the publication. As I said in my last writing, if you do not do this, at least in the Texas prison system you will enable the mailroom staff to keep denying the publication. It gets placed on a ban list and is no longer allowed. Sure if you choose to appeal, you may lose then the publication will still be denied to our comrades. But what if you win? If you win you not only win an appeal against the system, you also win for all our comrades united in this movement.

I was never given a response from the DRC on my appeal, and I still did not receive the issue of ULK that I appealed in the first place. However, since the appeal I have received two other issues of ULK along with other correspondence from MIM(Prisons). It may not seem like much and maybe some who read this will say to themselves, "if you didn't get an answer from the DRC and you didn't receive issue 18, then how did you win?" That is the kind of thinking these people in control want us to have. They don't want us to win or even think that it's possible for us to win in our struggle. This victory is just a stepping stone for future victories. It has provided the necessary paper trail for future action.

I know that my fellow comrades see the point I am making. I also understand that not all prisoners understand or even want to understand the importance of fighting for a cause. But to my brothers and sisters united in struggle let this be a stepping stone and encourage us to keep punching back. Remember, you cannot win if you don't fight.


Related Articles:
chain
[Control Units] [California Correctional Institution] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Validation Update for CA SHU

I'm writing you this brief missive to update you on things here at 4B SHU - CCI. The pigs are using any and all of the smallest things to validate a person as a member/associate of a prison gang. Speaking to someone in passing, roll calls, working out on yard together, drawings, etc. This includes literature (MIM, Prison Focus) and any stuff dealing with Afrikan or Latino culture, and especially having the name and CDC number of your homeboys/friends in your phone book. Once they validate you it's for a minimum of six years plus you have to do 100% of your sentence.

All of the bullshit that you can expect a repressive/imperialist power hungry regime to do takes place here. That stuff is expected. One can't expect anything else from a pig. So our focus should be on elevating our minds to find ways to get out, stay out and bring light to all this by connecting the free world to those held captive, so that we all realize that we are all sinking on the same boat.


MIM(Prisons) adds: As we hit the streets building support for the food strike in California we are stressing to people that this is about the First Amendment rights of the oppressed nations to associate with (and read about) themselves. California Prison Focus recently released their Prisoner Self-Help Manual to Challenge Gang Validation (SHGV), 5th edition. They can be contacted at 1904 FRANKLIN STREET, SUITE 507, OAKLAND, CA 94612. We need to keep challenging these repressive tactics at the group level, to defend the rights of all oppressed people to self-determination.

chain
[Campaigns] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

PBSP SHU D-Corridor Hunger Strike

tabling pelican bay strike

Attention: beginning July 1, 2011, several inmates housed indefinitely in PBSP-SHU D-Facility, Corridor Isolation, will begin an indefinite hunger strike in order to draw attention to, and to peacefully protest, 25 years of torture via CDCR's arbitrary, illegal, and progressively more punitive policies and practices, as summarized in the accompanying Formal Complaint. PBSP-SHU, D-Facility Corridor inmates' hunger strike protest is to continue indefinitely until the following changes are made:

OUR FIVE CORE DEMANDS:

  1. Individual Accountability - This is in response to PBSP's application of "group punishment" as a means to address individual inmates rule violations. This includes the administration's abusive, pretextual use of "safety and concern" to justify what are unnecessary punitive acts. This policy has been applied in the context of justifying indefinite SHU status, and progressively restricting our programming and privileges.
  2. Abolish the Debriefing Policy, and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria - the debriefing policy is illegal and redundant, as pointed out in the Formal Complaint [IV-A, p. 7]. The Active/Inactive gang status criteria must be modified in order to comply with state law and applicable CDCR rule and regulations [eg, see Formal Complaint, p. 7, IV-B] as follows:
    1. Cease the use of innocuous association to deny inactive status,
    2. Cease the use of informant/debriefer allegations of illegal gang activity to deny inactive status, unless such allegations are also supported by factual corroborating evidence, in which case CDCR-PBSP staff shall and must follow the regulations by issuing a rule violation report and affording the inmate his due process required by law.

  3. Comply with US Commission 2006 Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement - CDCR shall implement the findings and recommendations of the US commission on safety and abuse in America's prisons final 2006 report regarding CDCR SHU facilities as follows:
    1. End Conditions of Isolation (p. 14) Ensure that prisoners in SHU and Ad-Seg (Administrative Segregation) have regular meaningful contact and freedom from extreme physical deprivations that are known to cause lasting harm. (pp. 52-57)
    2. Make Segregation a Last Resort (p. 14). Create a more productive form of confinement in the areas of allowing inmates in SHU and Ad-Seg [Administrative Segregation] the opportunity to engage in meaningful self-help treatment, work, education, religious, and other productive activities relating to having a sense of being a part of the community.
    3. End Long-Term Solitary Confinement. Release inmates to general prison population who have been warehoused indefinitely in SHU for the last 10 to 40 years (and counting).
      Provide SHU Inmates Immediate Meaningful Access to:
    4. Adequate natural sunlight
    5. Quality health care and treatment, including the mandate of transferring all PBSP-SHU inmates with chronic health care problems to the New Folsom Medical SHU facility.

  4. Provide Adequate Food - cease the practice of denying adequate food, and provide wholesome nutritional meals including special diet meals, and allow inmates to purchase additional vitamin supplements.
    1. PBSP staff must cease their use of food as a tool to punish SHU inmates.
    2. Provide a sergeant/lieutenant to independently observe the serving of each meal, and ensure each tray has the complete issue of food on it.
    3. Feed the inmates whose job it is to serve SHU meals with meals that are separate from the pans of food sent from kitchen for SHU meals.

  5. Expand and Provide Constructive Programming and Privileges for Indefinite SHU Status Inmates. Examples include:
    1. Expand visiting regarding amount of time and adding one day per week.
    2. Allow one photo per year.
    3. Allow a weekly phone call.
    4. Allow Two (2) annual packages per year. A 30 lb. package based on "item" weight and not packaging and box weight.
    5. Expand canteen and package items allowed. Allow us to have the items in their original packaging [the cost for cosmetics, stationary, envelopes, should not count towards the max draw limit]
    6. More TV channels.
    7. Allow TV/Radio combinations, or TV and small battery operated radio
    8. Allow Hobby Craft Items - art paper, colored pens, small pieces of colored pencils, watercolors, chalk, etc.
    9. Allow sweat suits and watch caps.
    10. Allow wall calendars.
    11. Install pull-up/dip bars on SHU yards.
    12. Allow correspondence courses that require proctored exams.

chain
[Abuse] [Organizing] [Lovelock Correctional Center] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Fighting Repression in PS Housing

On April 28, 2011 a complaint was made against two lieutenants and the associate warden of operations (AWO) at Lovelock Correctional Center (LCC) for threatening the entire Protective Segregation (PS) housing unit population with group punishment if the gambling, homosexual activity, tattooing, etc. continued, despite the fact that those who'd been caught were known and identified and/or already facing disciplinary procedures.

The same night, a number of individuals were caught gambling, and the following morning both PS housing units 3A and 3B were locked down. The lockdown was purportedly in response to the gambling incident.

On May 10, 2011 a minor altercation occurred between two prisoners in the LCC dining hall. These two individuals were placed in more secure housing where they received:

  1. telephone access
  2. law library access
  3. library access (i.e. book cart)
  4. cleaning supplies for cells
  5. full food portions in two hot meals per day
  6. yard access
  7. due process prior to loss of privileges and punishment

The remaining PS prisoners in 3A and 3B, having nothing to do with any of these incidents, received:
  1. lockdown for 6 days with showers on first and fourth days
  2. loss of cell visiting privileges (permanently)
  3. loss of open access to cells and toilet accommodations (permanently)
  4. no law library access
  5. no religious access
  6. no library access
  7. no telephone access
  8. no cell cleaning supplies
  9. no tier time/yard time
  10. refused grievances and "advised" not to "fly paperwork if we want off of lockdown"

During the lockdown a shakedown (described as getting the unit into compliance) was done resulting in the confiscation of appliances, which was later returned because "it should not have been taken in the first place."

Upon being let off of lockdown some of the population united around these and other issues long overdue for redress and formulated a complaint alleging several violations of civil and human rights which are embraced by the following acts and holdings among others:
22 USCA 6021 (9)
22 USCA 6401 (in toto)
42 USCA 1997a (CRIPA)
42 USCA 2000cl (RLUIPA)
Bounds v Smith 37SCT1491 430US817
Heck v. Humphrey 114SCT2364 512US477
Wolff v McDonnell 94 SCT 2963 418 US 539
Breenholtz v Nebraska 99 SCT 2100 442 US 1
Estelle v Gamble 97 SCT 285 429 US 97
Turner v Safley 102 CT 2754 482 US 78
All of which are US Supreme Court holdings which are binding upon Nevada (Nevada constitution article 1 Sec 2 Bargas v Warden NSP 482 P2d 317 87 Nev 30 91 SCT 1267 403 US 935 29 LED 715)

The complaint raises the following (and other) issues which are constant and pervasive conditions at LCC among PS prisoners:

  1. unsanitary/unsafe dining hall conditions
  2. inadequate food and medical treatment
  3. compulsory strip searches daily (to boxers) frequently done by females
  4. verbal abuse by staff in the form of derogatory racial, cultural and gender charged epithets
  5. abusive and retaliatory behavior toward adherents of non-traditional religions
  6. inadequate legal access and retaliation for accessing legal process
  7. coercion/harassment in the form of cell searches and theft/destruction of personal property as retaliation and for furtherance of personal agendas
  8. withholding/theft of mail, opening legal mail outside of prisoner's presence
  9. use of prisoners in supervisory capacity and as facilitators/teachers of rehabilitative and psych programs which impact earned sentence credits, parole board decisions and sentence duration
  10. fomenting hostility and animus between prisoners using confidential or otherwise sensitive information
  11. group punishment/threats of collective retaliation and punishments

The above is a summary of the mentioned complaint and does not contain much in the way of detail and specificity. However, it serves to articulate the overall conditions here (and elsewhere) and exemplifies the need for solidarity and presenting a united front against oppression. It should never be allowed to get this bad before action is taken, but it apparently must get bad enough to inspire action.

It is easier to keep what one has than it is to regain what one has already lost, but this is not a message which is widely understood by the new prisoner class.

In any event, if information concerning our struggle becomes available, it will be put "before the world."


MIM(Prisons) adds: We applaud prisoners coming together to fight repression in their housing units. In this case it is prisoners in protective custody, a place our prison comrades are fond of reminding us is rife with people who informed on other prisoners (often falsely) to save their own hides. We cannot often know who, in PC or general population, is a snitch, but we can judge prisoners by their actions and uphold the correctness of struggles against prison brutality wherever they arise.

chain
[United Front] [Maryland] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

New Man Corp supports UF for Peace and Freedom

While reading the latest issue of ULK I noticed the topic on Peace and Unity. As a member of the New Man Corp., it's my obligation to want to contribute to productive activity and liberation from what ignorance has bound me to. This is why I encourage all my comrades to work towards true freedom, and also to work against this diabolical establishment. I believe we as men should study our heritage and culture and protect each other from this open enemy. I understand the need to study George, Malcolm, and Huey to become well versed with the people of the struggle and develop a sense of camaraderie. It has come time for all of us to stand together as one united front, so we can fight against prison injustice.

I reside in Maryland Correctional Institution, where peace and unity is imperative. It's become increasingly clear that our continued genocidal tendencies are at our peril. We complain about the injustice we are forced to deal with inside this slave plantation known as prison, but it pales in comparison to the pain and sorrow we have inflicted upon each other.

Just think of the power that is in our writing against the elements that thrive successfully because of our difficulties and divided strata. It is time for all of the warriors of the prison tribes to realize that together we are unstoppable. It is time for those of us with political minds, influence, rank, and respect to start believing in and advocating peace and unity. We must revolutionize ourselves, become new men, and liberate ourselves mentally. This will redirect our energy towards the interests of our people. This is why I stress education of the lumpen to understand why we are where we are, while building strong ties to change our reality. Those who benefit from the oppression and exploitation of others do not want such change to take place. So lets come together to overthrow this oppressive imperialist system. This is the only thing that will truly bring peace and unity to us in prison.

chain
[Abuse] [Organizing] [Florida State Prison] [Florida] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Inhuman Living

I am currently serving a state sentence at Florida State Prison on Close Management (24 hour lock-down). The prisoners are treated like hogs in a barn, not human beings. The clothes here are filthy and stained with blood, urine, feces, oil, and semen. They are passed out on a weekly basis. We can catch a disease this way.

And the meals are always underdone. Prisoners have gotten sick from this, a stomach virus. If you file a grievance on it, the correctional officers won't feed you the next day.

The pigs will write prisoners bogus disciplinary reports sometimes, and if you try to file an appeal after they found you guilty of the infraction your appeal comes up missing. How can a prisoner win like that? The system is designed for us to lose even if we're right in our argument.

The correctional officers like to jump on prisoners in handcuffs/shackles in the assigned cells, on the rec yard, anywhere where there's not a camera to catch the injustice. How can anyone defend themselves when they're helpless?

The COs try to discourage prisoners on a daily basis out of their institutional call-out, meaning they will bribe them with contraband like cigarettes, chewing dip, coffee, knives, etc. A lot of them will fall for it all the time because they are trying to support their bad habits. It's sad on both parties' behalf.

Florida prisoners have no unity whatsoever and they never will as long as they continue to be brainwashed by the COs and continue accepting contraband that is being brought in by DOC workers to prisoners. As long as this keeps going on there will always be fights between one another.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The oppressive conditions in Florida are similar to those throughout the criminal injustice system, and this comrade's call for prisoners to unite underscores the motivation behind the United Front for Peace in Prisons. One of the 5 principles of the United Front is Independence. The oppressed need to develop institutions that meet their needs. There are plenty of examples of prisoners pooling their resources to take care of each other, rather than relying on the COs who only hope to poison the prison population with drugs, weapons, rumors and jealousy.

chain
[Organizing] [Abuse] [Tecumseh State Correctional Institution] [Nebraska] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Fighting the System is Dangerous

As mentioned in prior writings by comrades, the struggle, especially for those incarcerated, must encompass not merely a study of history but an application of those strategies that in some way benefit the cause as a whole. One aspect of such application are the legal remedies which can set precedence for many who may need such standards in proving the wrongs done by prison officials. However the opacity and cover-up culture of prison industry in some instances allows for these same freedom fighters to unknowingly sacrifice their very lives for the sake of the many. Here at Tecumseh State Correctional Institution in a rural part of Nebraska this fact remains ever alive.

We are still mourning the death of a prisoner who has on several occasions successfully challenged institutional policy, winning both injunctive and compensatory judgments. In the process he made enemies, invoking the wrath of those running this warehouse. And although this comrade was in phenomenal physical condition he somehow experienced an aneurysm and mysteriously died. Some have postulated his diet of tuna was the cause, other more conspiratorial minds say he was murdered because of his success in exposing questionable actions by those officials. I myself have chosen to accept the latter.

I mention this with regards to a legal battle I will enter very soon pertaining to a number of constitutional rights that have been violated. This struggle is real in every sense of the word and unfortunately requires its martyrs, without which one would not perceive the seriousness of our collective struggle.

The constant study, comprehension and application of the tenets of independent thinking, which will always remain applicable to our situation, must continue for substantial change to occur.

chain