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STGMU-tized in New Jersey

On March 4, 1998, approxmately 170 NJ state prisoners were rounded up by the Special Operation Group (S.O.G.) and Internal Affairs, cameras in hand, and shipped to this [Northern State] prison. We were handed a memo signed by the Assistant Commissioner, Howard Beyers and dated 4 March. This memo designated five groups as being a "Security Threat Group" (STG): Almighty Latin King/Queen Nation, Association NETA, East Coast Aryan Brotherhood, The Five Percent Nation (AKA The Nations of Gods & Earths), Prison Brotherhood of Bikers.

The memo further stated that activities of these groups, including: possession of literature, lessons, lists, and paraphernalia (such as: beads, artwork, medallions and clothing articles) are prohibited. "In accordance with this policy," it stated in the memo, "any inmate found to be taking part in these types of activities shall be subject to disciplinary action and may be targeted for transfer to the Security Threat Group Management Unit (STGMU)."

The NJ DOC rounded us up and shipped us to their new Control Unit without any prior notice of their new STG Policy. None of the "prohibited acts" were in the "New Jersey Register" for 30-day comment, nor was the prison population notified in a timely fashion (45 days before the new policy goes into effect).

The Commissioner declared an "emergency" to justify this mass roundup and transfer. But the only reason for this "emergency" is that the state accepted federal funding to build a new Control Unit to combat "prison gangs". The deadline was nearing if the state had not built a gang unit for the return of the federal funds.

All cells in this new "gang wing" are double celled. We have two gray jumpsuits and a baseball cap with STIGMU stamped on it. We were denied our legal papers, transcripts, property receipts, books, and typewriters. We can have our TVs and radios, but not fans or beard trimmers. Originally according to the guards and civilians the administration wanted us to not have TVs. The STIGMU "program" is in three phases (each phase is 3-6 months).

Phase 1: One shower every third day, 1 monitored phone call a week, 1 non-contact visit per month (immediate family only), eat in our cells.

Phase 2: Shower every other day, 3 monitored calls a week, 2 non-contact visits a month (immediate family), eat in the unit in a cage with up to 16 other "gang members" at a time.

Phase 3: Shower every day, 7 monitored calls a week, 1 contact visit a month (immediate family), eat in the main mess hall.

Each phase is housed in a different wing. During each phase you have to be up at 6:00 a.m., have your bunk made and stand by your bunk for count. If you want to speak to a guard, you have to ask permission first. You have to be ready to attend "classes" between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Failure to participate will result in indefinite placement in STGMU.

Here is the estimated racial breakdown of who got locked up: 70% Spanish, 25% black, 5% white.

-- T.R., New Jersey

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