Prison 101 – Frederick Mason

(How To Kill The First Amendment)

“When the prison gates slam behind an inmate, he does not lose all his human quality; his mud does not become closed to ideas; his intellect does not cease to feed on a free and open interchange of opinions; his yearning for self-respect does not end; nor is his quest for self-realization concluded. If anything, the needs for identity and self-respect are more compelling in the dehumanizing prison environment.” —Justice Thurgood Marshall


Society knows so little of how prisons like USP Tucson aggressively prevent inmates from talking about what prison officers and staff do to inmates. I have written hundreds of essays addressing how staff often persecute, torment and even torture inmates in their “care”. I am convinced that when the levies break on what happens in American prisons, there will be an outcry for prison reform that stresses accountability of what government employees in prisons do.

But until then, we struggle to get such information out. One reason is because prisons illegally block inmates from speaking, which is a violation of an inmate’s First Amendment; his right to free speech.

As Thurgood Marshall states, inmates still have the right to free speech. He has the right to tell the world if staff and officers are treating inmates like slaves or dogs. He has the right to tell people when an officer beats an inmate, then charges the inmate for an assault. He has a right to tell people if the Education Department is nothing more than a sham, and does absolutely nothing to help inmates rehabilitate- yet claims they need more funding.

Inmates have the right to tell people that officers in the SHU (Special Housing Unit) actually facilitate rape incidents, then cover it up. Inmates have the right to tell those on the outside that their Counselor is walking around the dorm with a white sheet over his head, stirring up racial tension.

These, and many other things, happen at prisons like USP Tucson, but staff will never admit to it. So, guys like me write about it. But prisons have had to find creative ways to prevent such words from getting out. One way to kill the First Amendment is a tactic they’ve been using on me – that of prevention.

I have hundreds of essays out there, many published, as I am also working on a book. I was published in about 8 consecutive publications of “The Beat Within”, out of San Francisco. They publish works for the incarcerated, and have contributors across the nation. Up until April of 2022, I was published in that circulation.

But shortly before, I had an issue with my Unit Counselor, Mr. A. Nava. I told him that because the prison (and Nava) were illegally trashing the BP, I was writing an essay on it, and sending copies to the White House and “The Beat Within”. And, I made good on that promise.

Up until then, I had been published in about 8 consecutive issues of “The Beat Within”, and had not one, but two White House Case Numbers—meaning that that White House read, and responded to my essays.

Buy since April, I have not received a single letter from “The Beat Within” (as of August 3rd, 2022), and no responses from the White house. Both previous White House Receipts were hand-delivered to me, and signed, by Counselor A. Nava- who had been absent from his duty since April, when he foolishly walked around the dorm with a white sheet over his head…

…what, you think I make this stuff up? This really happened!

USP Tucson has taken a covert act, in preventing me from receiving mail from some entities, while not informing me why I am not receiving such mail. I was told that I’m also on the “Hot List”, which put me in a direct line of fire for retaliation, something I’ve experienced before.

Killing the First Amendment isn’t just preventing me from speaking; its also blocking the responses and support from those trying to communicate with me. USP Tucson will lie and say that they never received it, but when you suddenly stop getting certain mail, considering it was about the abuses here at USP Tucson, you don’t have to be a genius to figure out what’s really going on.

Justice Thurgood Marshall correctly exposes the issues we face; and I full agree that I did not lose nor will I allow prisons to steal-my self respect, while staff and offices dehumanize us. That makes them just as bad—or worse— than those behind the cell doors.

This is why I write—because I have a right to remain human.

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