Thursday, December 31, 2009

To all who care: another open letter

This is a response to a discussion in the Ely Times, where a former officer of Ely State Prison, who calls himself Local Boy 76, comments without verifications about Coyote.

The first letter by Coyote was published here:
Make the Walls Transparent
and here.
This is his second letter.

by Coyote

These few humble words go out to the “Local Boy 76” and to all who care to know what I have to say and to all who would like to join in these open chats. Please, try to stay as open-minded as you can, because I know that most people in society have been taught to believe that all of us behind these walls are the ”scum of the earth,” but I'm just here to try to put things into perspective, if I can.

And I know people really don't know what goes on inside of these sunless cemeteries; they don't know about the effects of long-term isolation; about sensory deprivation; and they don't know about inmates assaulting officers, or about officers assaulting inmates; they don't know about the code of honor that the convicts live by, or about the gang bang mentality of a lot of these prison guards; they don't know about the barbaric nature of prison life; or about the racism, the stagnation, the deterioration, the gangsterism, the perversion and all of the crazy, sick and depressing things that take place in these graveyards, and how both the guards and inmates alike have to turn off their feelings and numb themselves daily just to be able to adapt and cope with the constant madness that goes on in this demented world of darkness; where there is no real love; no real hope; no incentive to try to do good; no programs; real medical care, treatment and no serious opportunities to reform; and where the quality of life is very low, causing things to only deteriorate and get worse and worse as time goes by.

So, for those who actually care, it is important to use sites like these to be able to air it all out, and hopefully to address some of these issues so that it can lead to positive results. Not only for prisoners, but for the communities that some of these prisoners will have to return to.

Well, in my previous engagement I tried to bring “Local Boy 76” (a former guard here at ESP) into the foray, to get him to really be honest and critical about things and to give him a chance to be a real hero and help us get to the root cause of why this place has the ability to turn even the guards into animals, and maybe to help inform the general public of the true nature of these prisons; and to examine the mentality of the prison guard and of the convict; but it seems like he's more concerned with how many letters of commendation he's received while working at the prison, which he tries to make it appear that these letters of commendation make him out to be such an outstanding prison guard!

Well, I was curious about these letters of commendation that the big shot caller, “King of Ely,” Warden McDaniel likes to pass out to his faithful followers, so I asked about seven of these officers if they've ever received any letters of commendation from the big-time circus leader, McDaniel and every officer that I asked, except for two of the new guards still in training, said, “Yes.”

And when I asked them what did they get these letters of commendation for, some of them just shrugged their shoulders and said, "For working overtime and stuff like that." These letters of commendation don't seem to be very important to them, more like a "doggie treat" and a pat on the head than anything else, I guess for sitting, fetching and rolling over for the “King of Ely,” himself.

So big deal "Local Boy 76,” you got some letters from the warden telling you how good of a suck ass you were. So what? That doesn't make you a hero, Man, so take your cape off and sit your goofy ass down in a corner somewhere.

And so you think I'm a waste of life, huh? I'm glad you can be honest and say what you really feel about me. I think your statement gives people a glimpse into the average mentality of the prison guard. I know a lot of guards (not all) think that all of us in here are worthless "pieces of shits” and I'm glad you could help me make this point. But more so, I'm really glad that you don't work here anymore! And I don't tell myself lies, "L. B. 76;" I just don't let people like you tell lies about me.

The truth is, I've had plenty of time to sit back and think about things, because believe it or not, I actually have a deep passion and joy for life that pushes me to really want to rise above all this degeneration, which drives me to just really sit back and reflect on my life, taking the time to slay my own personal dragons (which has been a real struggle!).

I've taken a good, hard look at my life, at life in general, at the system, and society, at love, relationships, family, everything, and believe me, I'm not disillusioned, by far. I don't claim to know it all, but I've been able to come to know myself and come to know my own conclusions of things.

In my previous letter I told it like it was, everything I said was real. Yet you came back and tried to discredit me again, by saying that if I keep lying to myself that I'll eventually believe the lies (even though you've failed to admit to lying yourself with your fictional story about my so-called assault of a female officer), but you provide no real argument to try to show how anything I said in my open letter was untrue, so you're just blowing hot air dude, talking out the side of your neck, with your doggie treat letters, knowing damn well what I said was the truth, even though I was only just touching the surface.

You're sitting out there in the free world, on the computer at midnight, arguing with ladies like "Little Missy" and "Six Wheels," about a man in prison, and yet you have the self-centered audacity to call me a waste of life? Get real, Dude. Do something with your life, Man. You make these fake allegations of me being someone who caused problems all the time, failing to elaborate, trying to make me look bad. How do we know that your definition of causing problems isn't just me putting articles on MTWT, telling it like it is?

But if you want to get real, we can sit here and discuss things, if you want? If you want to pretend that nothing is wrong here at ESP and that overall nothing of any significance is going on here in this death camp, but then if that's true, then tell me why there have been about 60 officers in the last year who have either quit working here, or transferred to other prisons? And then tell me, in what other prisons in this country has a dropout rate of correctional officers as high, or higher than that?

And if nothing´s happening here, then why has the ACLU taken up a class-action lawsuit against ESP? Why have the Feds investigated certain doctors/medical staff that have worked here at this prison? Why did Lorraine Memory -- a real hero -- risk her career and more to write a 13 page declaration about the deaths, discrimination and the negligence that have all taken place here?

Why are there so many different lawsuits going against “The King of Ely” and his goons? Answer these questions, “Mr. Firm, Fair and Consistent.”

But no, I've never claimed to be an angel. I've gone through rough patches in my life, on a path of self-destruction. I've had my share of ups and downs, took my hits and kept moving. I still struggle to this day to keep my cool and to maintain my sanity in here. It has all been a process of self-discovery, of shedding my old skin, finding my essence and coming into my own. I can honestly say consciousness is a savior, and not to mention that I've had to be a fighter to even get to the point where I am now.

I see prisoners lose their minds in here, fall under, and break all the way down until they've lost their souls. I've seen the madness, I've lived this shit, and the cold part about it is, it takes a serious level of resistance to stay strong and persevere and to keep a shred of your humanity, but it's that same resistance that gets us in trouble with the prison administration and that keeps us confined to a cell for 24 hours a day for months and years at a time. So it's a Catch 22. There's really no way to win. You either let this shit break you, or you don't, but either way you lose. There's no real victories.

You hear about people in the world that gamble away their whole life savings. You hear about drug addicts who throw their whole lives away trying to chase that next fix, but then you've got people like me who could have one bad day and say fuck it all. It's been a struggle to overcome self-destruction, resist depression and come to grips with life all at the same time.

It's hard to care, when no one cares about you.

And that's the case for a lot of people in here. We had it bad before we came to prison, have it bad while in prison, and will still have it bad when we get out. Going from living in a cage, treated like dirt, and then thrown back into a world that makes no sense to you, as an ex-felon, with strikes against you, trying to learn how to live out there, it's no wonder people are scared to leave prison. These are things that people have to understand. These are things that need to be addressed.

I get out of here in three years. I don't want to get out and fail. I don't ever want to come back to this shit, but nobody ever really wants to come back, but it happens, it's a revolving door, it happens, people come back, and it‟s sad.
We've got to talk about all of these things. We've got to hear it from all sides. There's not just one side to this story. Everybody has a side of the story to tell, the victim, the offender, the guards, society, everybody has their own side of the story, and we can't forget that.

People who don't know me can´t really judge me, ´cuz they haven´t been through what I've been through, they haven't endured what I've endured, they haven't seen how this darkness turns people into monsters. All they know is what they've seen on some prime time television drama, they don't want to know the brutal realities of this horrific world called prison!

And until people start to look at things from all sides, there will never be any true understanding, and without true understanding there will never be any effective solutions to these problems, struggles and tragedies of society, poverty, crime and life.

For all those who care, I just want you to know that I'm here to help now, I'm here to raise awareness and to be a part of the solution. I'm here to pour out my soul, plant seeds of consciousness and to make a difference in my own way.
I've seen how this place, these prisons can turn a kind soul into a cold soul. I've seen what this madness does to a man. That's one of the reasons I'm constantly trying to make more people aware of how important it is to build true, solid relationships between the people on the outside and the people in prison who actually strive to rise above these heartbreaking struggles.

We've been placed in prison and separated from our families, separated from meaningful relationships with the only people in the world who care about us and thrown into a zone of war, deceit, violence, negativity, sadism, corruption, gangsterism, racism, addiction and destruction, and then forced to learn how to sink or swim with the sharks and in the process of survival, become as heartless as the next man.

We've been thrown into these prisons, stripped of a sense of purpose, will and spirit and slowly we begin to lose a sense of connection with life beyond these walls and we become more and more tuned into this barbaric world of predation, and as we become more and more tuned into this madness called "prison life" we become less and less tuned in to ourselves as we learn to numb ourselves and brace ourselves and endure loneliness, torment and all kinds of suffering: and then released back into society and forced to learn how to live out there with the odds stacked against you. It's sick!

And until people start caring about us, and about what goes on in these hellholes, things will only get worse. We're not gonna be able to care enough about ourselves until people start caring about us, and that's real!

We need people to get involved in our lives in real and meaningful ways, because we have been exiled from society and placed in an even more hopeless environment, and we start to deteriorate and become even more antisocial until we get to the point where we feel we have nothing to lose and that's when we become reckless with our lives and we go all out, throwing it all down the toilet, and we are destroying ourselves and being destroyed while having to survive this profane existence. It's inhumane. It's madness.

For those who care, we need people to get involved in our struggles, in our lives, we need people to give us something meaningful to look forward to, we need love, support and guidance from our communities, our families, and from people who care. We need to have something real to connect to.

So "Local Boy 76," you can wave around your doggie treat letters of commendation, and put your cape on and tell make-believe stories of heroic attempts to save damsels in distress all you want, if that's what you want to do.

It doesn't matter what you do, because it‟s really not going to stop me from doing what I do. But I‟m asking you one more time, to get involved in something meaningful here. Help us expose the injustices and the inhumanity that takes place in this graveyard called ESP. It´s up to you, Man. You can be a real hero. You can do something real. You can

start by telling people how this prison has the ability to turn even the guards into animals. It´s up to you, “Local Boy 76.”

And with that said, I‟m opening up the lines of communication for anyone who has anything significant to say or who want to get involved. Let‟s air it all out, let‟s put it all on the table, let‟s hear it from all sides. Let‟s talk about these things. If you really care, then here‟s your chance to get involved in something positive.

In truth and with sincerity,

AKA: “Local Prisoner 77”

For letters of encouragement you can write me at this address:
Coyote Sheff # 55671
PO Box 1989
Ely, NV 89301-1989

This was also published here.

Open Letter to Localboy76 (i)

By Coyote Sheff
Note: This is in part a response to a poster on the Ely Times Message Board who calls himself Localboy76.

It is important what Local Boy 76 said about how prison has tendencies turn officers into animals…

I find it hilarious how people try to discredit my stories and call them “fictional”, and then when confronted and asked why my stories are fictional, all they can say is that I’ve assaulted officers.

Yes, for the record, I have assaulted officers in the past. I have been taken to court, pled guilty, and picked up new charges and time for it too. But no, I’ve never tried to shank any female officers and no shank was ever wrenched from my hand. I had to laugh out loud when I read that because it’s funny the extremes people will go to to try to discredit me. Come on, Local Boy 76, instead of trying to make yourself look like a hero by creating fiction of your own, why don’t you tell the people what really goes on in here! Then, you’ll REALLY be a hero!
Try to imagine this. You take the tiger out of the wild and put him in a cage and you starve him and whip him and then you use food to train and tame him until the tiger complies and the next thing you know, you’ve got the tiger jumping through hoops. That tiger isn’t the tiger anymore, now he’s a circus animal.

Well, some of us in here, we don’t forget that we are tigers. We pace our cages and we keep resistance in our hearts, and we are not interested in becoming circus animals. So when the lion-tamer, or circus master comes around rattling our cages and insists on poking and prodding us with a psychological stick, the tiger in us is going to come out, and yes, we are going to try to lash out, I mean what do you expect us to do?

When locked down in a cell all day, for years on end, you undergo a process of sensory deprivation, and for some, the effects of sensory deprivation are different than they are for others. Some of us become depressed. Some of us become violent. Some of us become paranoid and some just completely lose their minds. These are extreme circumstances and even a lot of the guards who keep us contained in these cells have told me personally that they couldn’t last a day living in a cell like this.

In these drastic circumstances, many of us prisoners have learned to see ourselves as “combatants” as a means to survival. (Kind of like Sen. John McCain when he was a POW.) And this is more of a psychological battle than it is a physical one. And while we are affected by the effects of long-term isolation and sensory deprivation, and at the same time when we are provoked, this perspective, were treated unfairly, while we live on perpetual lockdown in this prison, with nothing to lose and with no real incentive to do good, then yes under these extreme and primitive conditions we sometimes explode and get violent.

There’s many factors involved, it’s not solely the guards fault. I mean one guard might be the one provoking the prisoner, and another guard who had nothing to do with it at all might be the one who gets assaulted. There are many sides to this story and there are deeper things going on. One example to take into consideration is the mentality of the convict, versus the mentality of the prison guard. You have two different mentalities thinking along two different lines. The guards want to teach the prisoner a lesson, the prisoner refuses to recognize the authority of the guard and feels that he can’t be taught a lesson because the prisoner feels he already knows right from wrong according to his own set of standards that he lives by as a convict. Or whatever. So then, we have a psychological power struggle, that can very easily get out of hand and directed violence.

Also, the way people like me and Funches see things, politically, are completely different than the mainstream political perspective of most of these guards. Like for example, Local Boy 76 says: “Don’t get me wrong, there are several decent convicts that know they have done something wrong and realize that they have a debt to pay to society”.

Well, well, I definitely realize that my lifestyle and my actions are what lead me to prison. But that doesn’t mean I recognize the legitimacy of this so-called American justice system. I know for a fact that this is a corrupt and evil justice system, where the police in our own communities are as criminal and gangster as the people they lock up. There is documented evidence that police have planted evidence, lied in their testimonies, beaten and even murdered so-called suspects. Racism and oppression and all these things are what keep this justice system going, so no, I don’t recognize the legitimacy of the American justice system, and there is no real treatment or rehabilitation inside these prisons, so no, I don’t feel I have a debt to pay to society that doesn’t care about me. I feel that I have a debt to pay to myself and a debt that I have to pay to my family, only.

So my political views are way different than those of most of these correctional officers, and because of this, there’s always going to be a clash, where they feel the need to punish me for some petty rule violation that I don’t recognize, because according to my own standards, I’m not doing anything wrong. And by following these petty rules, it’s not going to help me to get out of here and return to society as a productive member. All it does is belittle and dehumanize me.

Some of these guards here are cool. They are respectful and fair and understanding and they do their job and then go home at the end of their shift. I have respect for them and they have respect coming from everybody, because they respect themselves and because they’re respectful of others. But even then there are a lot of guards who have that gang bang mentality, believe it or not, and when those guards see these guards being fair, or cool with us, then the guards with the gang bang mentality will ride their co-workers and give them hell and call them “inmate-lovers”, or call them “friendly”, or “nice” and use peer pressure to try to discourage them of being fair and respectful towards the inmates. And so they see that it’s better to be an “inmate-hater” than to be shunned or ostracized for being a so-called “inmate-lover”.

And then there’s guards here who are even more spiteful, vengeful and hateful than they say we are, and who are always out to show the prisoners that they are the boss, and that they are in control and they’ll go out of their way to mess with us and do things just to show us that they are the ones running shit, not us. Not to mention the fact that there’s guards here who lie in their reports (write-ups), usually to cover their own asses because they weren’t doing their job correctly in the first place, and no matter if we are guilty or not, we are found guilty nine times out of 10 when we go to disciplinary, whether there’s evidence or not. And then there’s guards who want to enforce the rules that make things hard on the inmates, but don’t want to follow, or abide by certain policies that will make their own jobs more difficult. So, to me, that’s like saying: “Fuck you. You’re a prisoner. You have no rights. I’m an officer. I can do whatever I want!”
So, when you put us in a situation where we don’t have nothing coming, and where we can’t win and the guards don’t play fair, and where we have no incentive to even try to do good, in a maximum-security prison, where the tensions are always high and some of these guards are just as violent, or as criminal as they say we are, then yes, they’re going to be times where staff gets assaulted and there’s going to be times where staff assault the prisoners, and usually when that happens, they get away with it.

Abuses of authority and the violation of our civil rights happen on a daily basis here in Ely State Prison and it’s going to take a situation like that Patrick Cavanaugh case, and the Kevin Lisle case and the Marritte Funches case to expose what really goes on in this graveyard called Ely State Prison, because there is no oversight here in Nevada. So that’s why it’s absolutely necessary for our supporters to put up websites like MTWT. So keep up the good work and don’t get discouraged by people like Local Boy 76 because what you’re doing is real and very necessary.
So, “Local Boy 76″, if you don’t like me ‘cuz I’ve assaulted officers in the past, then say that. But don’t try to make up some bullshit story of me assaulting a female officer on the very first hour of her very first day and how you heroically disarmed me, and try to use that to make it seem like what I’m saying in my articles isn’t valid. Come on now.

I’ve even had guards come to my cell door and tell me that they read my articles on MTWT and that what I’m saying is “very accurate and true, unlike some of the other stories on there by other prisoners.”

“Local Boy 76″, if you want the public to know that I’ve assaulted officers in the past, then I’ll tell them myself. Yeah, I’ve assaulted officers, because I wanted them to understand I’m a tiger and not the circus animal and also they wouldn’t mess with me again, because that’s the mentality I had back then and because that’s what this place does to you. And this place has obviously had a tragic effect on you too, because you said it yourself that prison has a tendency to make even the officers into animals to a certain extent and that you are well on your way to losing your humanity by working here at E.S.P!

Yeah you’ve got out of this place, but this place hasn’t gotten out of you. Instead of trying to discredit me and Funches because you don’t like us ‘cuz we’ve assaulted officers, or whatever, why don’t you be a real hero and help us try to expose what really goes on here and expose the root causes to what makes us want to assault officers.

Most of the prisoners are in prison because they’ve committed crimes and because for some underlying reason or another, they are criminals. And they will tell you themselves that they are criminals, but when the officers behave and act like criminals, then what’s their excuse? Anyone who works for one certain state bureaucrat is working for one of the biggest criminals in Nevada. All of the other officers will then turn a blind eye to the criminal acts that take place against the staff and administration of E.S.P., but are quick to try to discredit me as some heartless predator who stabs and attacks female officers on their first hour of their first day, but don’t even have the paperwork to prove it. You can’t use my history to discredit me, Man, because I’ll be the first to say it: I’ve assaulted officers and you guys are pigs!

Now let’s see if you cowards have what it takes to get on this site and say what you really feel about us! Or we can stop all this hate, and really try to come together and fix the problems that exist in the system and these prisons!

And for the record, I don’t have any problems with any of these female officers. These gang banging male correctional officers are just mad because I’m always asking the female officers to marry me.

I’m opening the lines for discussion or if anybody wants to write me directly you can reach me here:

Coyote Sheff # 55671
PO Box 1989
Ely, Nevada 89301

Solitary Enslavement

By Coyote

.... We sit in these cells like dead bodies sit in cemeteries. Death fills our lungs, fills our minds, fills our hearts and fills our souls as it lurks and lingers and seeps through the concrete. Our minds go numb and our spirits fade into inactivity. We sit here waiting to waste away, erode, dissolve, and disappear into the cracks of the cement.

Solitary confinement. What an evil concept, what a wicked notion, what a clever way to destroy a man without even laying a finger on him. Solitary confinement -- the murderer of minds, hearts, and souls. The person who designed such an evil conception must've had murder on his mind and hate in his heart.

We die alone in these cold cells, as our hands stretch out to clutch concrete, but fail miserably to hold anything in their grasp other than the death-stenched air. We die alone -- a lonely, miserabIe, suffering death. We die alone….

This was also published here.


By Coyote Sheff
(Taken from: Make the Walls Transparent)
It is 3:07 a.m. as I sit here in this cold silence of another imprisoned November night, I can hear the echoes of the ghetto life ringing clearly in my head; the gunshots, the sirens, the dogs barking the helicopters. It has been years since I’ve been in the ghetto, but the memories are still with me. Living in the ghetto, to me, is like what I’d imagined it had been to be in the war in Vietnam, the sounds, the constant violence, the despair.

The cold silence is broken by the screams of a crazy Indian on the top tier and my “ghetto day dream” fades away. I tune in to the screams and the noise. There is a psych patient upstairs on the other end of the tier. He’s an Indian dude named Pacheco. He is always yelling out racial profanities like “Fuck all Niggers!” and other stupid shit like that.

Tonight he has a new mantra. I can’t make out his words though, but he keeps repeating it over and over again. It seems that he has succeeded in frustrating a couple cats up there in his area, because I can hear their angry responses. One of the cats comes to the door and tells Pacheco to shut the fuck up, so Pacheco repeats his mantra louder and then I hear another cat yell from the back of his cell, “I’m gonna smash your face in if I see ya!”

Pacheco is an old Indian with long grayish hair and I can tell by the nature of his speech that he is missing his teeth. Maybe that’s why he’s so bitter, who knows. His whole purpose, his whole intent is to make everyone around him miserable and unfortunately he does a good job at it. He’s a “terrorist”, using psychological warfare and mental torture as MO Modus operandi: In here we refer to people like that as “a piece of shit.” They like to terrorize everybody around them for no apparent reason other than the fact that misery loves company, I guess.

Pacheco was my neighbor once, five years ago on another unit back here in the hole. For no reason other than to disturb me, he’d bang on my wall and bang on the desk all day long and he’d yell over me when I was trying to talk to one of my comrades over the tier just to prevent me communicating with others. That’s something a hater would do.

I got fed up with his shit and one day I unattached the cable cord from my TV and stripped the cable cord completely so there was nothing left inside of it and I turned it into like a little hose and when Pacheco was sleeping I’d run the hose over to the front of his cell and I’d piss in the hose and I’d continue to do it all throughout the night. Every time I had to take a piss and it would create a good-sized puddle inside his cell and when he’d walk up to grab his breakfast tray, he’d step in a big puddle of piss! He would terrorize me, keep me from sleeping, keep me from socializing and communicating with others and he’d stress me out, making me angry and unable to think clearly, so this was all I had, this was all I could do to get back at him.

The cold part about it was that he had the choice of either getting down on the floor and cleaning up MY piss, or leaving it there and smelling it all day and all night, so it was a lose-lose situation for him. I pissed in his cell every night, for a whole week straight and then these guards hurried up and moved him to another unit. The officers didn’t know it was my piss, though, they thought he was pissing on his own floor. Oh well.

These aren’t the types of stories people are used to reading about prison, I’m sure. But I keep it real and tell it how it really is in here. These are the atrocities of life in a maximum-security prison. This is just a glimpse of the inhumanity, the suffering, and the torture. It’s just a small example of how we are reduced to such lows, such drastic measures just to try to keep a piece of our peace of mind. It is very sad, this solitary life of madness. How can one get out of here and expect to live a normal or at least a decent life after this? How can one go from living like an animal to living as a free person in society?

This is a sad, lonely, disgusting profane existence here in this world, behind these cold stone walls and chain link fences and people need to understand this they need to know what really goes on in these maximum security prisons, where surviving perpetual lockdown has become a way of life.

I write about these things so people can understand, because we need support from people on the outs. We need to be provided the tools that will help us adjust after being in prison, living like this, to becoming free and trying to live and maintain in society. Most of the people who are in prison already had it bad before they came to prison, they have it bad while in prison, and then they have to go out and try to make it good with strikes against them? How does that work? It was bad before, it’s bad now and it’s still going to be bad after they get out, so how is prison solving crime? How is prison helping society? We are caught in a system that was not designed to care about us; we are caught up in a system that was not designed to help us. This system has no mercy for the poor. It’s an atrocity.

So when I say that I’m greeting you from a graveyard, I think you know what I mean. We are traumatized by all of this, from the ghettos to these prisons; it’s a miserable existence. We need to come together and find ways to rise above this.


Ely State Prison
November 2, 2008

This was also published here.

The Thoughts of an Exile

While I sit, stand, lay here in this cell, exiled from American society and confined to 4 gruesome walls that were intentionally designed to break me all the way down, my heart beats furiously, yet proudly with resistance and I try to keep my mind open, heart open and eyes open, reaching out for truthful knowledge and for deeper understandings of self, love and life. I read, I study, I write, I contemplate and reflect, I hold discussions, I have conversations and try to engage others.

In these dungeons we are cut off from family, cut off from the world and cut off from a real education, but the people in here who linger, lurk and fester in these graveyards seem to love to learn all they can about their own history, culture, heritage and traditions, even though they're usually considered lower than dirt in the eyes and minds of society, they still carry their pride of who they are and they hang on to that very tightly. I really dig that.

There are definitely some powerful and dangerous minds lurking in some of these cells, people who have taken true means to let the shackles, chains, cuffs and restraints from their minds. I feel blessed to have been able to come in contact with people in this clandestine world who could be so intelligent, artistic and resourceful, even while confined to a cold, hateful, primitive place like this. It's because of these experiences and because of meeting these people that it feels good to be lower than dirt, it fee Is good to be so close to the earth. I appreciate the blessings and the lessons of being an exile.

While I write this, I'm on the second day of a 4-day fast with a native comrade of mine. He told me he was going to go on a fast tor a few days, to set things in order with himself and that he'd holler at me in a few days. I said, "Hey, wait a minute! I´ll do it with you." So, here I am on the second day of this fast, trying to stay strong and focused, no talking, no eating and no masturbating; and trying to keep negative thoughts out of my head. My native comrade Xemo has his reasons for going on his fast, which are mostly spiritual, and I have my reasons and objectives.

First, I wanted to show him solidarity, as he is someone I feel connected to in meaningful ways, so I wanted to encourage him to keep going and to get his mind right, heart right, soul right. Prison isn't the most positive or productive place, and we sit here amongst all this hate, madness, violence, gangsterisrn, materialism and corruption, it's hard not to get caught up in it, it's hard not to think like all those around you, it's hard to rise above it. So, I knew if I were to go on this fast with my native comrade, it would inspire and motivate him to hold strong. Secondly, I felt the need to do this for myself, to back up oft the door, take my mind away from this place and tune in to myself and mostly to challenge myself.

To me, fasting is an act of enduring pain and coming out of it stronger, it's an act of sacrifice. It calls for me to will myself to keep going under desperate situations, to keep fighting, to keep resisting, to keep holding on, to stay focused, to stay disciplined and to stay strong. Of course, there are deeper spiritual meanings attached to it. But 1'11 have to admit that this fast isn't really tor spiritual purposes tor me, other than sacrificing my food, conversation, urges and desires to will myself to endure and overcome anguish, pain and torment, and I'm doing this to prepare myself for tutu re hardships. Those are my reasons tor taking up this fast.

Xemo tells me stories, sings me songs in Crow, sings me songs in Lakota, sings me songs in Shoshone. He sings songs about the eagle, he sings songs about the bear, he sings songs about the determination of the wolf. He taught me how to sing a healing song and he taught me how to sing a unity song. He tells me something good about the coyote, he says a coyote can adapt to any situation, you can take a coyote out ot the Nevada desert and put the coyote in Africa and the coyote will find a way to survive. I will always remember that.

I believe we become stronger through our pain, we become wiser, with a clearer outlook on life, a keener insight, and more compassionate and understanding after overcoming, or enduring struggles and painful situations. I believe we need to be challenged by life, every now and again, and it's through these challenges that we grow (spiritually) and develop (mentally) and transform our thinking into higher states of consciousness.

It's about the mind, body and soul. It's about atonement. It's spiritual, mental and physical, it's not only about being a warrior, but it's about being alive. This is not my first fast, but I've learned a lot from Xemo, 'cuz he was kind enough to take the time to reach out to me and teach me things about his culture, which isn't much different from the Yaquis, Aztecs and Mayas, and I am very appreciative for my friend's time and kindness, and it felt good to hear him sing his songs, he sings from deep in his soul.

My appreciation of these gifts leads me to write this brief report on it and include it in this zine, to give people a small peak into the life and mind of an exile. We prisoners are exiles, because we've been exiled from life, exiled from society, exiled from real, human relationships, exiled from culture and traditions and customs and celebrations, but as long as we choose to keep the things that are most important to us in our hearts, then we are still thriving and surviving.

There's a difference between living and maintaining, people in prison aren't living, we're maintaining and some of us aren't even doing that. Times are hard in prison, this place can make your heart hard like cement and your soul cold like steel. This place breeds hate and anger. A lot of people are influenced by racism and prejudice ways of thinking. Some prisoners read and study their culture and history and use it as a tool to hate, hate and hate. They learn to hate other people and other races, 'cuz they're not like them. They don't understand the true lessons, ways, teachings and understandings of their ancestors. They don't understand that when you take things back to their roots and origins, you see that we all come from the same place, and in 50 many ways, we are all related. People who embrace the true understandings of their ancient cultures aren't haters, but have a trued appreciation and respect for their own culture, as well as others.

I see all this hate around here, and to me it's ignorance. It breaks my heart to see and experience all this madness every day. People who talk out of hate (in my opinion), usually speak with ignorance, people who talk out of love, usually speak with the intelligence of their hearts. If you're someone who claims to love your people 50 much, then they take true strides to do real things for your people, instead of using all that energy to hate on the next man, or the next race, just because he ain't like you.

I sit in my cell and do my fast, Xemo is in his cell, a few cells down from me, doing his fast. We are both locked down, but we are resourceful enough to find ways to communicate with each other and still keep people out of our business. I sit here in solitude, with no one or nothing to fear but myself and let these thoughts pour out of a heart that's been broken a thousand times, but comes back and beats stronger and stronger each time. I feel the pain in my stomach, but I keep going, I don't eat, I don't have the desire to eat, only the desire to keep going, and that's what I'm going to do, I can endure the pain, I'm a warrior, I am ready for whatever challenges that await me ...

From the depths of my restless heart,
E.S.P. 2008

This was also published here.

There´s No Love Here

In the depths of these dregs where our souls dwell in darkness as our minds dwindle like dust in the wind, we sit here with sad looks on our faces, waiting for a letter in the mail or a hot meal to be served. Waiting, waiting, waiting, always waiting for something, but it seems like nothing ever comes. Nothing good, anyways.

There's no love here. Not in this artificial world of concrete and steel, surrounded by razor wire, and gun towers, which are enclosed by mountains on all sides. There's no love in these confinements, just a lot of hate, anger. agony, hopelessness, loneliness and despair. The closest thing you'll find to love in here, is pain.

There's no love here, no sunshine, no fresh air. But if you open your eyes long enough to see, you will find that there is plenty of destruction, depression, aggression, torment, suffering, and death. The coldness that permeates the atmosphere seeps through our skin to our bones and chills our soul. We've been discarded by society, separated from our families, left to sit, suffer, rot, and die. They don't care, so we don't care. There's no love here.

Coyote, 2008
Anarchist Black Cross,
Nevada Prison Chapter E.S.P.

This was also published here.

Strategy and Power

Knowledge is power but for anarchists it's the essence of life. In a prison cell I sit, hungry for knowledge, but not power. My enemies are powerful, so to stay on my toes I have to be as smart, or smarter, than them. There are a lot of people in prison who are naturally intelligent but do not seem to realize or understand the depth of their intelligence because they have been caught in the system for so long. The system is oppressive to growth and intelligence. But even under these oppressive circumstances we can still grow inside, both intellectually and spiritually. In fact, it's usually in the confinements of a cell that many prisoners eventually take the time and effort to awaken the intelligence inside of them. Usually this is done as a mean to survival, because keeping the mind keen and c1ear of destructive thoughts or illusions is indeed a way to resists the psychological oppression that prisoners often go through in isolation.

In my essay "The Importance of Resistance", I briefly mentioned how a lot of prisoners study books on power, warfare and strategy only to end up using that knowledge on other prisoners. I would like to expand on that in this essay.

It is important that oppressed people and imprisoned people take the time to study strategy. It is even more important that we study and learn strategy as a mean to protect ourselves against corrupted people's manipulations and deceptions, but not to become corrupted ourselves and not to manipulate or deceive.

As prisoners we are a powerless people. In these maximum security prisons they've got us confined to these cells, we don't have power over anybody but ourselves. A lot of prisoners are under the impression that being powerful is to maintain power over other people which in truth only contributes to a "self-destructive mentality."

As an anarchist I don't buy' into the concept of power and control. I am being held in prison against my will because of my enemies' power and control, so I know first-handedly that when people are given a position of power over other people, their power is abused and used to control and oppress. The only type of power that I strive for is self-empowerment. Self-empowerment is the only type of power that does not corrupt.

To learn strategy is learning how to survive. This is important in these dark corners of incarceration because most of us have inadvertently been trained to believe that we can't trust each other and that we have to survive by any means and that's their best strategy against us because it keeps us divided and conquered, under their oppression.

If you're locked down, confined and with nothing in your cell, studying strategy would be a productive way to pass your time. Even if you have appliances in your cell you should still try to find the time to study up on different strategies, because these are essential studies for anyone who desires to engage in resistance.

Study strategy, practice what you've learned, memorize and recite these lessons everyday and you will soon become one of the most cunning and strategic prisoners around. Just be sure to use this knowledge for the means of arming yourself and protecting yourself from other's deceptions and for the means of uplifting yourself and others and be careful not to let this knowledge corrupt you or make you scandalous.

Life in prison is a struggle. A lot of us are living real foul and doing "hard time" in here.
Some of us don't have friend and family on the outside to send us money to buy food and hygiene products, so we are forced to hustle or go without. It's situations like these that turn a lot of us out, as we become unprincipled; doing scandalous deeds; being manipulative and dishonest just to make ends meet.

It's cool to have a hustle and to make money, but you'll get farther and feel better about yourself if you use creativity to make money rather than having to "be slick" just to get by. There are all kinds of hustles a prisoner can get going for himself if his head is in the right place and if he stands by his principles as a "convict." We shouldn't have to be forced to associate with rapists, child molesters, snitches and P.c. - just to get by in here, we shouldn't have to be slick or dishonest just to make a couple of bucks.

It's better to have integrity than to live foul. People will get farther in life by keeping it real with themselves and with whoever they decide to associate with. These locked down situations are sucking the life out of us and depriving us of our ability to socialize.
They're trying to strip us of our souls in these graveyards. There're trying to decimate our minds, alter our senses and crush our hearts in here, to the point that we don't know who we are, what we're living for, or where we're going with our lives. We are living in devastating circumstances. We can't let them get us like that, we can't forget who we are, we have to really get in touch with who we are or else we will end up letting them determine that for us. We can't let them determine who we are. We have to know ourselves.

I know what I live for, what I aim for, what I struggle for. I know what I'm striving for and believe me, it's not power! Every day that I am alive is another day of resistance and every breath I breathe is an act of resistance. We are all struggling the same, but we're not struggling together. There are too many amongst us who are motivated by greed, power, materialism and corruption, causing others to take up the same attitude and behavior just to protect ourselves in this somewhat primal environment, and it is destroying us.

When it comes down to it, we don't have control over anybody but ourselves and the only time someone has control over us is when we let them have that control. Control is nothing. Power is nothing. There are more important things in life. Let us stop this madness, instead of trying to control other people's thoughts and actions, let us start trying to take control of our own lives ...

(written by Coyote)
Published here too.


Minds evaporate in these prisons, life becomes redundant after sitting in these cells day in and day out. Doing the same thing over and over again, your brain begins to deteriorate. We are like water in a pond; there´s no flow in our lives, so we slowly become stagnant, and just like stagnant water we build up with all kinds of bacteria and we become poisonous. We need to flow, we need to stay active, we need to stay productive, or else we become stagnant and poisonous; we become dull and senseless and our lives become miserable and pointless.

Stagnation is misery and in these conditions, misery is death. Feed your mind, tune your intellect, read, study, and learn new things. Apply yourself, apply the new knowledge you learn. Grow, develop create and transcend. Rise above the dirty pool of stagnant water, breathe, let your mind flow until it develops into a beautiful mind, a dangerous mind, a brilliant mind, a powerful mind. Let your mind flow.

Coyote, 2008
Ely State Prison

(Sent to NPW directly from the author on October 27th, 2009)

E.S.P.: The Basic Rundown

Ely State Prison is a so-called maximum security prison that was opened in 1989 out in the middle of nowhere, outside of a small miner's town called Ely, Nevada. This prison is surrounded by the mountains of Nevada's Great Basin. There are mountains on all sides of this prison. It is very secluded and a four hour drive to any of the nearest major cities.

There are eight units in this prison (not including the infirmary and the camp that sits outside of the prison) and all but one unit is locked down. When I came here in 1998 for battery on a correctional officer, this prison was still opened up, or less restricted I should say.

Units 1, 2, 3,and 4 are all disciplinary segregation units, also known as "the hole". There are 2 wings on each unit. "A-wing" and "B-wing". There is a control pod in between each wing (In ESP everybody calls the control pod "the bubble"). The officer in the control pod can monitor both wings and communicate with us (or eavesdrop on us) through the intercom.

Unit 3A houses all death row inmates, they get to come out together, in sections, for tier time and group yard (12 men at a time). Unit 3B is "the hole" or disciplinary segregation unit, that houses death row inmates who are doing "hole time" (or "D.S. time"). and death row inmates who are on protective custody status, and it also houses some of the regular inmates (non-death row) who are doing hole time.

All throughout these different disciplinary segregation units there are protective custody inmates, jail house snitches, and psych-patients housed on the same tiers as inmates who come back here from general population to do their hole time. This creates a weird atmosphere and a funny-style environment.

Units 5, 6, 7, and 8 are all considered General Population ("G.P."), but unit 8 is the only unit 8 at is open. Unit 8 inmates get tier time and they all get to come out together on the big yard. Most of those inmates are allowed to have jobs that support and uphold the operations of the prison. They get to work in the kitchen, in the laundry, on yard labor crews, some are allowed jobs as barbers who come to the different units and cut the inmates' hair.

Units 5, 6, and 7 were once General Population units, but now that this prison is slammed down I call it "General Populockdown". We are allowed a few extra "privileges" and accommodations that we can't get in the hole. Like, for example, we can wear our blues (in the hole we are only allowed t-shirts, socks, boxers, and an orange jumpsuit). We can order hobby craft and get items oft the commissary that we can't buy in the hole. In order to get out of the hole and go to General Populockdown, the caseworkers say that we have to find a cellie. You have to have someone to live with. Someone that you will be locked down with in the cell for 23 hours a day. lts crazy. This place is a joke.

In the 10 years l've been here, I've seen this place go from bad to worse. Slowly but surely, they've taken so many things away from us and they're creating an even more hopeless situation for us. Every time things change around here, they always change for the worst.

This is just a basic rundown of what its like here at E.S.P. right now. But there's been widespread rumors that things are about to change in October of this year (2008). The rumors have it that they're going to shut down unit 8 and bring in campers from the outside to work the inmate jobs that keep the prison functioning. If these rumors are true, its gonna be all bad for all of us. No hope, just misery.

August 2008

(This text was also published here)


This text was also published here.


To live, to fight for what you believe in, to fight for what you have coming to you. To overcome adversity, to eliminate all distractions and to remove self-destructive influences from your life. To fight for your freedom.

To survive, to resist, to become stronger under dire circumstances, to revolutionize and politicize your mind while confined behind enemy lines. To fight against enemies who are more powerful than you, with no fear in your heart and no doubt in your mind.

To oppose the oppressive elements of the system, to oppose government and all elements of authority and power, while building yourself up, educating yourself and putting your knowledge into practice. To achieve self-discipline. To organize yourself and your people, even under the most extreme circumstances and to make solid connections with serious comrades, that will lead to uplifting movements.

Struggle is being able to maintain a sense of confidence while living under the most despairing situations, it's being able to stand your ground no matter what, it's being able to maintain a sense of self, while moving with purpose. Struggle is being able to move forward while striving against great odds.

Struggle is life and life is struggle. It's what makes us stronger, it's what makes us intelligent, it's what makes us grow inside. There's nothing like struggle, there's nothing greater than achieving the things you've set your mind on, there's nothing like helping your people rise up. Struggle is an essential to life.

El Coyote
E.S.P. 2007


This text was also published here.

Prisons are not here to help us. Prisons are not here to rehabilitate. US prisons do not stop, deter, or prevent crime and they never will. The people in power can continue to lock people up and they can keep building more prisons and crime is still going to happen, because we live in an unbalanced world. Everybody wants to be in control, everybody wants to be able to control other peoples' opinions, actions, and options. Nobody wants to break away and take control of their own lives.

It doesn't matter whether we are in or out of prison. The way we are living as people is foul. If you are in prison, however, then you have the opportunity to really sit back and think about things. Whether you take advantage of that opportunity or not, is up to you. We can sit back and think about revolution, freedom, life, and death. We can sit back and think about creation and destruction. We can use this time to destroy our old ways of thinking and reconstruct new ways of thinking and new ways of living in the world.

Prison has no place in this society because there are as many criminals in this society as there are in prison. Even the people in power can be considered criminals. What kind of people are they who let the poor suffer while the rich get richer? What kind of people are they who value money more than another person's life? The people in power get to define the meaning of a criminal only because they are the people in power. I could tell you that the people in power are as criminal as I am, but it wouldn't matter because I am in prison and they are in power. What they decide to do with their power will never be in my best interests because who am I but a prisoner? What the people in power do with their power will rarely be in the best interests of the people, because who are they but powerless people?

So, they leave us with two options: we can be powerful or we can be powerless. We can have or we can have-not. Of course, everybody is going to try to be a person of power and the ones who don't are going to be the ones who end up getting controlled by the people who have power. In this way, we conflict with each other as we strive for power.

All the while, the people who really have all the power benefit from our conflicts, because they're the ones who control our options. As long as we give them that control, they are going to do whatever they want with their power, whether we like it or not.

This is what I think about while I´m in prison, but one should not have to be in prison to think about these things. I should not be in prison, because this prison should not be here. Think about that…..

From a cell, I salute you!

El Coyote 2007
Ely State Prison
Anarchist Black Cross
Prison Chapter

Note: Here's a revolutionary idea: "Lets hear what ´the scum of the earth' have to say!"

Imprisoned Radical Intellectual

This was also published here.

Something as beautiful as freedom; something that good; something that great could never be free. It seems like it always comes with a price. Trust me when I tell you that it's a high price we have to pay for our freedom, especially if you come from the gutter, born into oppression, born into poverty, it's a high price for anybody who has to live in this world of capitalism because they have found a way to make all people pay for the good things in life.

I feel like I've been paying the price for my freedom for the past 17 years, so when these gates open for me, when I can feel the fresh air in my lungs and when I can feel the sunshine on my face, I want the feeling I get to be worth it. I want the feeling that I get as soon as I step out of these gates to be worth all the pain, all the heartache, all the suffering that I've endured. I want that feeling to be worth all the madness I've gone through in my life. I want to feel it in my soul. I want my soul to know what freedom feels like!

I've paid for my freedom. I've paid for it with the pain of my soul, I've paid for it with the blood of my flesh, I've paid for my freedom with damage to my heart and damage to my mind and I know that because I know how this incarceration has scarred my psyche. I've paid for my freedom, so give me what I´ve got coming, give me what I´ve paid for!

Everybody in the world needs to feel a sense of purpose. A purpose for living. A purpose for being. A purpose for feeling good. A purpose for suffering. A purpose for dying. Many of us in this world are lost, confused, damaged, partly because we don't know our purpose. We subject ourselves to all kinds of abuse and torment; we search for a meaning and a sense of self-worth in materialistic things, like money and possessions. We join gangs, join religious groups, join the military. Women will sell their bodies, not only for money but also for the sense of purpose and people will cling to the first thing that pays them any serious kind of attention. People will do drugs, chasing that feeling, chasing that high 'cuz to them that high feels better that being conscious in this screwed up world. We are running around lost in this world with no real sense of purpose.

I've sat in these cells, in this prison, going through all kinds of crazy, fatal and drastic situations. I've been afflicted by so many devastating things, that have somehow become normal in our everyday lives and I've seen this madness, I've seen its face, I've looked in its eyes, and my heart has been afflicted by all of the pain and suffering that we have to go through in this world.

I've lived in this tormenting hell, going through the motions, just trying to live this penitentiary lifestyle and trying to keep my head above the water, but I've found that no matter how you do your time you will still be afflicted by all of this foulness, you will still be damaged. I've sat in these cells, sat in solitude, trying to find myself, looking for my own purpose in life.

There were times when I thought being a gangster was my purpose. There were times when I thought being a criminal was my purpose. There were times when I thought being a convict was my purpose. I was all of these things and still am a convict, but these are not my purposes in life, they're my struggles. I realized, as I sat here and reflected that those were only purposes that served me, and vet there are thousands of people who suffer and struggle just like me and worse. The more I reflected on that, the more I realized that it´s not about me anymore. I will always be a part of the counter-culture, but I've realized that my purpose in life isn't about me, but about striving to assist others who struggle alongside me.

As we sit in these cells searching for meaning, searching for truthful understanding, we begin to comprehend things in ways we´ve never understood them before. We begin to understand ourselves, our situations and our struggles and once you've embraced these understandings you begin to take steps towards purging yourself from your old ways of thinking and constructing the old ways into a higher realm of thought, until you become conscious, not only by how you think, but conscious in all that you do. Once you become conscious you don't see things like you used to and you begin to feel renewed, enlightened and alive. You take on a new passion for life.

I am a social prisoner. I have become politically conscious and spiritually motivated while in prison for a "social crime". I don't feel the need to twist up my crime to make it seem like I am a political prisoner because I am content with being a social prisoner. I don't feel the need to be considered as a political prisoner to make what I have to say seems valid. I am living in these trenches, behind enemy lines, everyday. I am going through it on a daily basis and as long as I am truthful with who I am and truthful with what I'm saying I know people will be able to connect to it and deem it as valid, and if for some reason certain people choose not to take me seriously, that's their loss.

I can understand why some 'rades might feel the need to be considered political prisoners, because political prisoners get all of the attention. But as social prisoners, as conscious prisoners, as anarchist prisoners, or as imprisoned radical intellectuals, we have a place in this struggle too and if you are resourceful enough and active enough and it what you have to say is valid and as long as people can connect to it, then you can get your voice heard just as much as any political prisoner, but if you're just doing this to get yourself some attention, or just to get your voice heard, with no real intentions of striving to make a difference, then you're doing it tor the wrong reasons. If you are serious about your concerns and serious about your activism it wouldn't matter whether you were considered a political prisoner, or a social prisoner. All that matters is that we want to do something good and make a difference. We want to help people who can't help themselves. When it comes down to it, that's all that matters and if you ain´t about that then you're only living tor yourself.

When people on the streets read this zine, I hope they will want to get more involved with prisoners in meaningful ways. When prisoners read this zine, I hope it will inspire them to take a critical look at their own situation, and maybe even help them to get organized and to start taking action to make things better where they're at. I want people to understand that prisoners are a people who long tor real human contact, we long for real social contact, we long to establish and maintain real, truthful relations and meaningful, substantial connections with people on the outs. We need people to stand by us during these hard times, we need people to get involved in our struggles, and we need people to help us ourselves.

Being institutionalized, addicted to drugs, materialism, violence, being a member of a street gang and being a prisoner and trying to overcome all of these things, these are my struggles, these are my afflictions, but this zine isn't about one man's struggle, this booklet is about the system, about prison, it's about all the people in prisons who struggle just like me. This zine is not about anarchism, it's a zine about imprisonment, struggle, resistance, life and survival, written by an anarchist prisoner.
I see prison as a place that takes people who have been damaged by poverty, neglect, abuse, racism, and addiction and keeps them damaged and damages them even more, so that they're always held down in life. I write this zine to expose a piece of what the system does to us, how we can survive it, why people need to get involved in prisoners struggles and movements and I wanted people to understand, from the perspective of one man who has gone through it and who is still living it and trying to rise above it.

People do not realize that I have been fighting most of my life. Snatched up as a youth, against my will no doubt, and placed in various institutions and juvenile facilities for 7 years. I got out when I was 18 and came to prison when I was 19. I was already "institutionalized" before even coming to prison. It is a struggle that has made me stronger, though it is a sad situation that many of us face in these graveyards.

I don't write about it to brag about it (I'm not that "institutionalized") because it's nothing to brag about, it's nothing to be proud of. Though I feel no shame or self-pity for my own painful experiences, I don't feel proud of them either. There's mixed emotions and mixed blessings that come with all of this. I am appreciative of the things that have made me stronger, disgusted that there are millions of us living like this, grateful that my mind is not only still intact, but even sharper than ever, and I'm heartbroken that there are thousands and thousands of people who won't ever be able to rise above this madness and oppression, ever.

I write about it to show people how this barbaric system deprives us of our youth, deprives us of our emotions, deprives us of our senses, deprives us of our freedom and our humanity. From an early age, many of us are deprived of these essentials and slowly we begin to manifest into institutionalized, anti-social, predatory savages.

There are lots of people who don't understand, can't understand that I've spent the majority of my life in institutions and prisons since the age of 11, but this is a very real situation. People need to be made aware of what we are going through in these institutions, even prisoners need to know what's happening to them, what's really going on, underneath the surface. People need to understand that our lives are real and that the things that we are going through in here are very real, and mothers and parents need to understand that they should keep their kids out of the hands of pigs.

I write about resistance, because there is nothing more important than resistance in a situation like this. Resistance is a means to survival. I have been resisting all of my life, since the age of 11, and for the first 3 years of my captivity, from the ages of 11 to 13, I spent most of that time strapped to a bed, alone in a cold, desolate timed-out room, where the walls were pale and the air was state, not much different than where I'm at now, but I´m not physically strapped to a bed anymore but psychologically, I am confined to a world of darkness, because I cannot envision or even imagine what life would be like, outside of this cell, outside of prison. I'm 30 years old now and as I sit here and try to reflect on the fact that I've survived for 3 decades, I try to figure out what that means, and all I can think of, is that it means I've lived 3 years longer than Bobby Sands and if I can survive for another 3 years, I will have lived as long as Jesus Christ and I guess that means that I'm surviving.

My mind is sharper than the razor-wire that surrounds the prison that contains me. If it wasn't I wouldn't have been able to survive this constant isolation and sensory deprivation for years on end, I'd already be brain-dead, or intellectually dead, or even delirious, like a lot of others in here who unfortunately suffer from some kind of mental illness. Nothing wrong with me, I'm no more messed up than most of the people in society. The only difference between them and me, is if you were to do a CAT-Scan or MRI on my brain, the image that you see on the cover of this zine, is the same as the image you'd see on the MRI: A BRAIN GRENADE! Explosive minds are created in these prisons, for those who resist, for those who think, and for those who strive to elevate themselves, in spite of the infectious and foul conditions we have to live in. Explosive minds, dangerous minds, revolutionary minds, for those who resist.
This place, this graveyard, cemetery, dungeon, hell-hole, whatever you want to call it to make you feel better about being in it, has devastating effects on all who dwell here, whether you're resistant or not. But the more you resist the more you survive. I won't say that being here and going through this madness hasn't had any destructive or negative effects on me or hasn't done any damage, I could never say that. This suffering, this madness has done plenty of damage to me, in so many ways and I may never recover from some of it, but the point is that nobody is immune to the effects of constant isolation, or constant prison madness. You cannot live like this and not be affected, no matter how strong you are or how much you resist, it has a devastating effect on everybody, more devastating for some than others, that's why it's important to stay active, stay healthy, and to keep resisting, keep striving, keep elevating yourself.

I'm conditioned to live in this place like this, I don't have a life sentence, but I'm conditioned to live the rest of my life like this, living like a dog, and that's sad. I have to get out of prison one day, some day and I'm going to have to get out and recondition myself and my mind, my life and readjust my way of thinking and living and that's going to make surviving out there harder for me that it is to survive in here. In the back of my mind I know I have a life to go to out there, I have family and friends who love me and care about me, but as I sit here in the midst of this constant madness, all I can see is that I have made a life for myself, right here in this graveyard. I don't yet recognize a life on the other side of these walls, fences, gates, so I don't think about it much, I don't think about getting released. So it's a heartbreaking, painful situation for us in here. We can't see a future for ourselves that exists beyond these walls, beyond this life; we don't think about these things, we are stuck in a rut, stuck in a maze. We need people to get involved in our lives in real ways, get involved in our struggles in meaningful ways, to help us envision a life outside of prison; we need to have a c1ear picture of freedom inside our minds. We need people to help us grow, help us elevate, help us organize, help us survive, live and heal. We have a lot to overcome, a lot to heal from. We need people to help us see and recognize a life for ourselves on the other side of the darkness, and the people who don't ever have a chance of getting out of here are in need of the most love.

A prisoner doesn't need books to become a radical. If the lst amendment rights were completely stripped from prisoners and if they were to disallow any type of books, or reading materials into these prisons a prisoner can still be wild and radical as his or her heart is. They could take my books, zines and reading materials away from me, and if I just sit back and observe what goes on around here, thinking deeply about the things I see and think deeply of the underlying causes behind all of this, I can write about this madness all day long. So, you see ,we don't need books to become radicals, we need books to become intellectuals. Books are powerful tools. Prisoners need people to send them books so that they can further their intellectual growth. We need people to send us zines and serious reading materials so that we can take it upon ourselves to resist the aura of intellectual death that permeates through these walls and steel doors. We need people to help us organize study groups and intellectual, spiritual and political movements on the inside of these coffin-like cells and to help us spread truth and intellectual growth amongst our comrades who dwell in these cemeteries with us. We need knowledge so that we can liberate our minds from this constant oppression, so we can gain consciousness and so we can take the initiative to rise ourselves, up and above this constant death, destruction and devastation.

I came to prison when I was 19 and I quickly learned and assumed the mentality and ways of being a convict, things aren't what they were when I came to prison, they've gotten worse for us in here, but 1 haven't changed much, I haven't deteriorated. Once you've been sent to prison you have to keep in mind that there's only 3 things that can be taken from you, or only 3 things that you can LOSE: Your mind, your manhood or your life. I've stood up many times, against my oppressors, and they came in and took my television, took my property and charged me restitution. But you see, they can take my T.V. (I don't watch it anyways), but if I haven't lost my mind, then they haven't taken nada. They can take my privileges or my good time (life goes on) but as long as nobody has taken my manhood from me, they ain't took nothing. They can take my money, my property or any other material possession they want, but as long as they haven't taken my life, then they haven't taken anything.

It's been 10 years that I've lived inside the depths of the prison regime and I haven't lost my mind, my manhood or my life, so I guess you can say I'm surviving. I was always taught that a convict is someone who sticks up for himself, stands up tor his rights and who looks out for other convicts and that it's better to lose your so-called privileges than to lose your manhood, it's better to take a stand than to be walked all over by people who think they're mightier than you because they have the law on their side.

And so, in that sense, being a convict is like being a revolutionary, but on a smaller scale. Intact, all these struggles, riots, conflicts and acts of resistance against our oppressors is actually training and preparing us to take it to another level. We've turned these prisons into training grounds tor revolutionaries. We've come from being convicts and developed ourselves into imprisoned radical intellectuals, so you see; this has just been another way tor us to make a bad situation into a better one, because that's what we do.

Rather than allowing ourselves to be destroyed by prison, we sit here contemplating, trying to find ways to destroy the prison. In Abbie Hoffman's book, Steal this Book, when he gives instructions on how to build a pipe bomb, he writes, “The basic idea to remember is that a bomb is simply a hot tire burning very rapidly in a tightly contined space.” I think that's what we are, we're not just prisoners, as we sit and dwell and develop in the confines of these cells, our hearts burn like a raging fire, and our brains are like bombs, a hot fire burning very rapidly in a tightly confined space.

Consciousness permeates through these walls and fills the atmosphere of these graveyards, they can't imprison consciousness, they can't stop it, as long as we have our minds intact and continue to use them as weapons, and they can't stop it. We sit here locked up, confined, and slammed down, thinking of freedom; the thing that's so great, but costs so much, and the more we think about it, the closer we are to it.. ..

So here is some of my best, break the chains, smash the system writing, I hope you´re ready for this!

Until prisons have been abolished,
ABC - Nevada
Prison Chapter
December 15th, 2007

Feel free to make copies of this zine and send it to prisoners, prison activist groups, free books to prisoner bookstores, newsletters and to advocacy networks, etc. Anyone who would like to write me, or make any comments, or who would like to get involved in my activism, struggles or movement could write to me at the address below. I am a prohibited from receiving letters directly from other prisoners, but would like to hear from everyone, everywhere.

This zine is dedicated to my fallen comrade: Silencio, (May you rest in resistance carnal) killed by the hands of the pigs in the Washoe County Sherriff's Office, (the county jail in Reno, Nevada). We miss you Bro.

For letters of encouragement or support, write to:

Coyote Sheff #55671
P.O. Box 1989
Ely, Nevada 89301 - 1989

Or write to my comrade

Anthony Rayson
South Chicago ABC Zine Distro
P.O. Box 721
Homewood, lllinois 60430

Buried Alive

This pamphlet-Zine was published around 2007. Republished here.

They've got us confined to these cells, where we are intellectually suffocating, in desperate need of literature, books, love, compassion and support. Being in this graveyard is like walking down an endless, dark tunnel, with no end, no light, no hope in sight, trapped in a box with no visible exit. We have to be soldiers in these circumstances where the means of survival go beyond guerrilla warfare: this is a battlefield for the mind.

Looking at my situation, I see myself confined, locked down in the darkest layers of a dungeon cell, surrounded by animals: human animals. Animals who were once human, but who have been stripped of their sanity, and who have no control over their own mental capacity. These beasts have lost their souls and there's nothing nobody can do about it, and they try to inflict their insanity upon me so that I can be miserable like them. Call it paranoia, but I feel like the administration has intentionally put these sick motherfuckers next to me, above me and around me, just so they can show me what type of 'weirdo' they want me to be; what type of sick monster they want me to become.

But on the contrary, the more I'm subjected to these miserable "mind-torturers", the more love I have for myself, and the more I love myself the more I hate these pigs, 'cuz I see what they're trying to do to me. I strive to be stronger, mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. The harder I strive, whether it be for strength, for unity, for solidarity, or even self-education, it seems, or feels like the more these pigs are trying to knock me to my knees. They try to knock me down and tear me apart, they try to tear my soul apart, my mind, they try to tear me apart from friends, family, comrades and fellow convicts. This is how I feel as these walls seem to close in on me, I feel like these pigs are trying to destroy me, I feel like they're trying to bury me alive in this graveyard.

We sit here and rot in these chambers of torture, designed to murder our wills, break our hearts, devour our spirits and bury us in our own agony, in attempts of transforming us into animals like the weirdoes who are caged in the cells next to us, above us, and all around us.
So many youngsters get locked up in this foul ass system, and it seems like consciousness has died in the hearts and minds and spirits of many of the incarcerated youth. There's no inspiration, no direction, no worthy cause to believe in, no reason for them to come together and settle their disputes, no reason to put their guards down and unite. I don't see it, I don't feel it, except in my own heart. People around here are lost, confused, mislead, and it's a tragedy.

I want to encourage the prisoners at Ely State Prison who read this to start studying the law and find ways to buck the system, beat and cheat the system that's beating and cheating you. Study anything you can study, whatever interests you. I want to encourage prisoners to start taking true strides to pick themselves up, to move forward, to better themselves, and to buck the system that contains you and holds you captive to this ongoing madness. I want to encourage prisoners to start turning their televisions off at least twice a week and spend the day reading, studying and writing. Do something to benefit and strengthen your mind. Do something to benefit and strengthen your position in life. Just 'cuz they've got our bodies held captive, doesn't mean we should let them hold our minds captive. Once we start taking serious strides to improve ourselves and improve our conditions, once we start doing something real with our time, then we can start doing something real with our lives.

Because they're trying to bury us alive in these graveyards, leaving us to sit alone in these suffocating cells until our mind goes crazy, deteriorates, or until we are so messed up that all we can think about is murder, violence and revenge, because that's what this long-term isolation does to us, if we let it.

I'm still alive, in good spirits and my mind is intact, so I must be doing something right. They try to knock me down, but I'm still standing. I have one mind, one heart and they can't strip me of my soul, I'm too strong for that. The more they try to break my will, the stronger I have to be. It's all about resistance, it's all about keeping the mind, body and spirit in good shape. I'm sitting here doing things, elevating and educating myself, engaging others, talking and listening and there are people in here like me, just trying to maintain their existence. We're living it the only way we know how. I live in struggle and I struggle to live, and this all I know! They want to bury me alive, but I'm plotting on ways to take that shovel out of their hands and beat them over the head with it! That's what's happening.

From the depths of this darkness,
Ely State Prison, Nevada

For letters of encouragement, please send letters to Coyote:

Coyote Sheff #55671
P.O. Box 1989 Ely,
Nevada 89301-1989

Blood in the sky

This is a pamphlet made in 2007, published here.

In prison I've died and rose again. Becoming the phoenix of my own creation, the Frankenstein of my own mind, facing a new battle, a new challenge, every single day, dying over and over again, just to keep rising, like the sun in the sky, who are both blood, in my eye and what I see is what they say, as they relate to each other, each and every day.

This is poetry for the imprisoned, written by the imprisoned body of a man whose mind is free when the sun rises, so do I, when the sun sets why does it leave its blood in the sky? Challenge me, I'll honor you, betray me and I'll always remember who you are, just like a scar on my heart, but that's what they mean when they say time is art.

I´d rather see blood in the sky, than the blood of the land, but I only say that 'cuz I've washed all the blood off my hands. no god, no master, what a beautiful disaster that would, could and should be. Will it be something that I'll ever live to see and will it be something better than all of the misery and poverty that I've already seen?

Picture a snake, shedding its skin. Picture a caterpillar, a cocoon and a butterfly, try to remember the beginning and then, try to picture the end. Picture a picture in a paragraph. Picture a paragraph that made you cry, yell or laugh. What does it feel like to feel? Does it feel like freedom?

In prison I've died and tried again. I've lied and flied again. I´d hide and decide again; that it was time to ride and then ride again and with all my might I´d fight again and because I've done it before I might again, as the day turns to night again and if this is a dream I'm living in, then whose fight am I fighting in? Whose dream am I dying in? Again and again? But here I am, to begin again, as the blood dries in the sky, like the tears from my eyes, again I rise, still I rise, what a pleasant surprise.

MAY 29TH 2007

Resistance is critical

An essay by Coyote (incarcerated in Ely Max), originally published in California Prison Focus 26 (2006).
Reproduced here.

From the cemetery, I salute you! May my words be heard, shared, and reflected on, from prisoner to prisoner, state to state. Although, I’m not saying anything new, I still believe there are some who haven’t yet heard it, and the ones who have, well maybe you need to hear it again.
The situations we’re faced with, the shit we’re up against, some think its cool to “do time”– this ain’t cool, this is war. I’ve seen these lock-down situations turn solid cons into funny-style P.C.’s!

This strategy keeps us hating on each other and at each others’ throats, rather
than aiming our anger at our oppressors, they got us thinking that we have to survive by any means. It’s true we have to survive, but there’s many means in which we can be doing this, rather than destroying each other we could be surviving by uplifting each other. You think Brown Power, Black Power, White Power is achieved by controlling and dominating other races? No! it is achieved by uplifting yours, and this can be done without stepping on the necks of the next man’s race.

I’ve read about many warriors before who have liberated themselves, who have found redemption through the knowledge of books such as Malcolm X, Dennis Banks, George Jackson and Tookie Williams just to name a few. Did the state rehabilitate those people? No, they took it upon themselves and they also were surrounded by a solid support group inside prison who encouraged and helped uplift them. In the case of all of these greats who have rehabilitated themselves, who have found redemption and liberation, not once did any of these men say that we should cooperate or identify with the people who oppress us. The entire time they were aware of who their enemy was. These are the people who went to the extreme to lift their own people up, to make the situation better, all while standing a firm ground against the people who oppressed them.

As a prisoner I represent the prisoner class. I represent the poor and the oppressed, of all races, nationalities, creeds and religions. We are all trapped in the system; we are all under the same gun. Remember, they don’t have to worry about killing us as long as we’re killing each other. We’re doing the job for them. As I’ve mentioned in the beginning of this essay, I’ve seen good men go funny, so, I encourage you, if you have books, to pass them around and share them, to hold discussions and study sessions, without being disrespectful to anybody else’s race, religion or creed. Keep it on a positive vibe; it’s all about uplifting each other. Who knows, you could be the next Malcolm X or the next Dennis Banks, or you could be the one who helps create him [or her]. Incarcerated, locked-down, slammed, torcidos. In these situations, resistance is critical. We are at war, in struggle. This is a psychological war, so we must defend ourselves by strengthening our minds. I encourage you to read any books you can find on psychological warfare, so you can study what they’re doing to you and seek ways to combat it. Knowing is the first step to consciousness. Consciousness is the first step to organization. Organize your mind and then your people. To the activist, concerned citizens and people on the streets, those who write to prisoners, who are concerned with their struggles and developments, if you are writing someone who you know is seriously committed to higher learning or further developing their skills, I encourage you to get involved with them and help them progress. If they’re into writing, then help them get into a correspondence class for writers. If they’re trying to study and learn the law, help them out with some law books. If they’re into art then help them get materials and supplies they need.

Whatever it is they’re trying to do, help them if you can, because they can’t do it without your help, and they can’t expect the same people who oppress them to help them. You would be surprised how far your help can go. The things you do for us, even the smallest of things, means so much to us; we can’t do it without you. We need outside support to get things done in here. As prisoners, we face many obstacles, many fights. For some of us the fight goes beyond survival, in the physical sense, it is a fight amongst ourselves, between good and evil. Our souls are in turmoil. We need books; we need to feed our souls with knowledge and spirituality, so that we can grow inside, progress, become stronger and intelligent, all while in this state of ongoing turmoil.

Shackled to my thoughts - words from the graveyard

This is an article posted on the Website of D.R.I.V.E. (Death Row Inner Communalist Vanguard-Engagement), an organization in solidarity with those on death row in Texas. Inmates in other States also show their solidarity with those on DR in Texas.

Here is an article by Coyote, who is incarcerated in Nevada. He wrote this in 2006.
Reproduced here.

Shackled to My Thoughts
by Coyote Sheff

With incarceration comes darkness and once you’ve been subjected by the darkness the only thing to do is search for light. I guess that’s why since I’ve been down I’ve always craved an insatiable hunger for knowledge, for elevated thinking and higher learning. Many things that I’ve learned in here, I’ve learned through raw experience, personal pain or strife. My other sources of knowledge have been obtained through intense research and study – mostly ‘cell study’! But there have been many things I’ve learned through other convicts.

That comes with being solid. There have been many different convicts and comrades throughout the years who had enough decency and respect to take time out to show me things, ideas, perspectives or ways to get ahead, ways to get over and ways to get around the pickle-suit oppressors. That’s what being a convict is about, knowing how to do time; to look out for other convicts. Because, like it or not we are all cuffed by the same cuffs, we are all shackled by the same shackles, we are all in this madness together.

I always had convicts around me to pass me a new piece of literature or a book, or someone decent enough to encourage me to pursue my studies even further, to develop my own writing skills and to put my skills to use. Ever since, a fire has been raging inside me and I’ve been on some unknown mission to keep it burning by igniting the torches of others who I see have potential or who are ambitious or who seek to grasp and understand things more higher, deeper than their normal perceptions of what they consider to be REALITY.

If the conditions of confinement aren’t sad enough, it’s as if nowadays, in these lockdown situations, the weirdos seem to outnumber the solid convicts. When I say weirdos I’m mainly speaking about the inmates and psych-patients who should be in protective custody or a Mental Health Facility, the ones who are either openly working against the solidarity and unity of the prisoner class, in conjunction with the Administration, or the ones who are working against us impassively for their own personal, sick satisfactions. It’s devastating for all of us to be under the same gun and still working against each other instead of directing our frustrations and hatred towards the one who are holding the gun in our face.

More and more prisons are being built and more of them are being slammed. From state to state the internal conflicts that arise within these dungeons are what’s giving the Administration the excuse they need to keep us confined to a cell all day, everyday.

I see new faces all the time, most of these new faces that are coming through this disgusting system seem to be younger and younger. This system has no hesitations about locking up kids and throwing them in with the Lions. All true convicts know what this system does to the youngsters, how it turns them out, and all true convicts know that we can’t count on the same people who oppress us to help us.

So it’s on us, as convicts to give these youngsters the proper tools, the proper guidance and education, to help them move forward, cuz these youngsters crave truth like a Vulture craves a corpse, they crave the power of knowledge like a Jackal craves to lick the blood off of left-over bones.

It’s on us to lead these youngsters down the right path, to turn scavengers into hunters and make higher learning and self-education their initial prey. It’s true that there’s nobody more dangerous than a sophisticated thug, but I’m thinking beyond that. I’m talking about instilling dignity and self-esteem, productivity, creativity and intelligence into our younger generations and into one another as well. We must seek ways to rise above these horrible situations, to move forward.

I believe that as prisoners, regardless of what race, we are all oppressed people. To rise above oppression we must first teach ourselves to think on a higher plane. We must first liberate ourselves through knowledge. Knowledge is idle without action and action is baseless without knowledge.

Through my actions and through my efforts I have been able to put into practice what is called “Solidarity”.

It’s always a blessing to open someone’s eyes to something truthful, to something fresh and to something progressive, especially while in these confined situations. It’s always a blessing to be able to offer new insights, new ideas, and to be able to inspire others to want to further their own path or sphere of knowledge.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: some of the most brilliant, intelligent minds can be found right here, behind enemy lines. To all the Comrades, Activists and Organizers on the streets, if you’re not writing to a prisoner, you don’t know what you’re missing. Get involved with a prisoner and share His/Her struggles and burdens, and you will come across some of the most enlightening and truthful conversations and discussions. If you are writing a prisoner, it wouldn’t hurt to send them a book, at least once a month, so that they may seek a liberation through the power of knowledge.

To the Comrades on lockdown, in prisons nationwide and beyond, we must rise above this oppression. We must stride out of the darkness and towards the light. Open your eyes, open your heart and open your soul to truth and to struggle. If you have what it takes to learn then you have what it takes to teach.

I encourage you to make copies of this essay, publish it in your paper, newsletter or zine, mail copies of it to prisoners, especially to prisoners serving time in solitary enslavement. And I encourage prisoners to pass it to other prisoners. Use it as an example to write your own essays, to say what’s on your mind, to speak the truth.

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to say what was on my mind. I was shackled to my thoughts until I took the time to share them with you.

In Truth and In Struggle,

Coyote Sheff
Ely State Prison, Nevada