GRAD program in Texas
In your November issues of ULK5 I read the article written by a Texas prisoner "Segregation in Texas" and am appalled by his ignorance as far as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) aka "Texas Department of Criminals" is concerned.
I myself am an ex-gang member, and I got into the GRAD program (without snitching), and do you know why? After 23 years of being a gang member in the prison system, I saw how the oppressors were using me to oppress others. By using me and other gang members, the oppressors in uniform do not get dirty while we get our time jacked-up or may even receive death for doing what the man in uniform wanted me to do. Not only that, but it gives the imperialists an excuse to build more control units for the idiots that are doing their dirty work.
Now I'll tell you about the Texas Department of Criminals. We prisoners in GRAD chose to call our gang affiliation history. Since then we have been labeled snitches (by TDCJ employees), by the same people who advertise how the prison system wants to help us rehabilitate. TDCJ employees know what goes on between prisoners because gang members have a habit of bragging, so when we denounce our gang affiliation the Gang Investigator (GI) tells you everything he knows about ranks and members all around the prison. At times the GI knows more than gang members. After being placed in the GRAD program, the same TDCJ staff go and instigate trouble between gang members and ex-gang members. That keeps the fuel on the fire and keeps prisoners at each others throats. Then TDCJ goes to the tax payer and asks for millions in tax dollars to build more control units.
December 4, 2008 and December 6, 2008, the thieves in the Governor's administration and TDCJ asked for a total of $506 million for the renovation of the prison hospital, for the medical contractors, and for walk-in metal detectors, wand detectors, surveillance cameras and x-ray machines. For the latter, the Texas department of criminals executive director is seeking an immediate $33 million. It is their own employees who bring in the contraband, but in the newspaper prisoners are the criminals.
Those of us who step back away from our gang membership are punished by the prisons. We face denial of meals (since I've been in GRAD I have been denied food 7 times). If we don't bark or beg for our meals we don't get fed. By law we should be allowed to recreate 1 hour daily, five days a week, but we are lucky if we get 1 hour a week. We get our water turned off by TDCJ employees just to try to get us to go off, and if we go off we have to go through the process all over again. We get verbal threats by staff. We get one or maybe two clean towels a week. We get old sheets that are cut in half. We don't get soap, tooth powder, grievance forms, or medical attention. We get strip searched by female guards, and if you are like me fighting the system, your mail is given to other prisoners or is denied.
The wing where I am housed is the only wing in the whole unit that is constantly freezing so that staff refuse to work this wing. We have to wear a t-shirt, jumpsuit and jacket in our cells during the winter. The air vents are so loud that you think you are standing next to a train (this is psychological torture). In the summer time the heat is turned on which makes you feel as if you are standing in the middle of the desert.
For 23 years I worked to please the oppressors by abusing the weak, oppressing others, and that is why I decided not to allow these people to tell me to do their dirty work while they sit back and earn money while I rot in these human warehouses.
Right now I am in a struggle with the medical department because they refuse to treat my illness. I am hypoglycemic and my blood sugar drops. Without the proper medication or diet I will lose my vision, which is happening slowly but surely. The way the grievance committee (kangaroo committee) puts it, I have to go into a coma so they can treat me. If more prisoners stood together as we used to in the 70s and early 80s, others would not have to go through these kinds of treatments. While we continue to fight each other they are building more control units. While we continue to fight each other we are forgetting the real purpose.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This issue of Under Lock and Key carries strong messages about the need for prisoners to stop fighting one another. We know that programs like the Texas GRAD system are used in many states to turn prisoners against each other by forcing them to snitch or be punished. But we also know that prisoners are turned against each other even before they enter these types of programs, fomenting conflicts between rival groups, and using prisoners to carry out violence against other prisoners in exchange for small favors. It is up to each prisoner to figure out how to best use the system to break away from the senseless violence and coming together with other prisoners to put their energy into the anti-imperialist struggle for peace.