Injury, Insult, Disability, Isolation
Please remember that I am visually impaired, currently being treated for glaucoma, photo sensitivity, etc. Also, it has been commented on more than once that for a visually impaired persyn I seem to have no difficulty drafting correspondence. My patent response is I have, over the course of my life, drafted thousands upon thousands of holographic documents and correspondence. I can literally do so with my eyes closed. I am also a touch typist.
Since the 14th of this month I have been confined to an isolation cell devoid any light whatsoever except the modicum of light entering the cell from the hallway - by which I am writing this letter.
First, no sooner did I set the date per this letterhead than I was approached by a mailroom official informing me the book Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletariat had been denied. It seems Settlers is on a permanent denial list and is unappealable. This will be the first literature denial I have ever not challenged, or failed to prevail over, but I have stretched myself so thin I need to regroup. By my estimate, the propensity of prevailing per a challenge to this denial is less than good.
The reason for this denial is racial content and depictions of rape. Some years ago I received through the mail Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. Go figure. I could not bring myself to allow this important tome to be destroyed. Recognizing the scarcity of resources, Settlers will be returned to MIM Distributors.
I did receive the Ricketts' Prisoners of Liberation. I am anxious to delve into Prisoners, especially being absolutely isolated. All I can say is thank you so much for sending Settlers and Prisoners. I'm just so sorry I was unable to receive Settlers. Look for it to be returned in the next couple of months.
On November 13 the majority of my property was stored, including my legal materials, correspondence supplies, study items, etc., and I was transported from here, the Estelle Unit, to the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) John Sealy Hospital, Galveston, per ophthalmology consultation for prospective eye surgery. I brought stamped envelopes, 1 writing tablet, 1 ink pen, the book On Trotskyism, MIM Theory magazines 6 and 10, and minimal hygiene items. I also included MIM(Prisons)'s most recent communication to me. My intent for including correspondence materials and MIM(Prisons)'s items is apparent.
The evening of Nov 13 at approximately 6 p.m., the transport bus bringing me back to Estelle was rear-ended at a high speed by a UTMB John Sealy doctor in an SUV on a cell phone. The transport bus was at a dead standstill. The doctor did not apply an ounce of pressure to eir brakes. The SUV's engine was pushed back 3 feet or more. Fortunately the doctor walked away. Seated at the back of the bus I sustained neck and back injuries.
At approximately 7 p.m. I was returned to the John Sealy Hospital, admitted, subjected to spinal cervical imaging, held overnight, and discharged the next morning with an ordered treatment regiment and a prescription for pain medication. Neither of which has been implemented as of this writing.
Late morning, November 14, I was wheel-chaired to a transport bus awaiting to return me to Estelle. UTMB medical personnel placed a bright yellow band on my right wrist designating me, in bold lettering, a fall risk. As such, it was ordered I be handcuffed singularly.
Arriving at the Estelle Unit at approximately 3 p.m., awaiting my return was a medical staffer with a wheelchair so that I would not be at risk of falling as ordered by UTMB doctors. Once taking a seat in said wheelchair, a prison guard ordered me out of the chair. In response I informed the Sergeant that I had sustained neck and back injuries via an auto accident, UTMB doctors had deemed me a fall risk, indicating the bright yellow wrist band, UTMB doctors had ordered I be ambulated via wheelchair, and the Sergeant was devoid the authority to supersede a medical directive. The Sergeant then again ordered me to remove myself from the wheelchair threatening me with physical assault and disciplinary action should I fail to comply.
As a visually impaired prisoner I have been issued, among other adaptive aid devices, a visual disability orientation cane. Pursuant to being ordered from the wheelchair, rather than using my cane to orientate myself with my surroundings, I used the cane for physical support while attempting to walk to the prison edifice proper, causing me to fall several times. Said Sergeant disallowed any persyn, neither security staff or prisoner, to assist me. Once inside the prison proper, and beyond the scrutiny of the belligerent Sergeant, a non-ranking guard did allow me to ambulate via wheelchair to my assigned housing unit.
When returned to Estelle from Galveston, I was issued no bedding (i.e. 2 sheets, 1 blanket, as required). Arriving at my assigned cell, the bunk I was assigned had no mattress. I advised all guards working my assigned prison wing, as well as all ranking officers on duty, as to the situation, notifying them all that less than 24 hours prior I had suffered neck and back injuries incurred in an auto accident. All my attempts to obtain a mattress and bedding were met with indifference by prison staff.
At approximately 11 p.m., one Sergeant Mims, a 3rd shift supervisor, entered my assigned prison wing. I approached Mims informing em as to my predicament, and was again met with indifference. I reluctantly informed Mims that I would bring the property in my possession to the wing dayroom and remain there until I was provided a mattress and bedding, suggesting to Mims that, since I had been injured, perhaps they could place me in the infirmary until I could be provided adequate bedding, or appropriate housing could be located. Though the dayroom was open for prisoner access, Mims stated if I entered the dayroom they would place me in lockup. I then invited Mims to place me in lockup so the entire travesty would be formally documented, ergo substantiating my prospective filing of an administrative grievance, and forthcoming litigious action. Mims then ordered me to place my hands behind my back so that I could be restrained thusly. I advised Mims it was required my hands be manacled in front as I am visually impaired, necessitating the use of a visual disability orientation cane so as to effectively maneuver throughout the prison. Mims repeated the order to place my hands behind my back. In compliance, I dropped my cane, placing my hands behind my back. Mims did restrain me and led me to the prison infirmary for a pre-hearing detention physical.
I've not seen my orientation cane since. Keep in mind, Estelle not only encompasses the High Security Unit, it is also the regional medical facility for the southern region of TDCJ.
I was placed in PHD (i.e. isolation) devoid any of the required criteria authorizing such. I was placed in isolation with nothing but the clothes on my back. Again, there was no mattress or bedding. Just a bare, steel bunk. No toilet paper. No water (The water faucet didn't work. I was denied water for 4 days as I was on a hunger strike [11 days] and told if I ate I would be provided water.). After 4 days I placed my mouth directly on the faucet and sucked in an effort to obtain water. I must have removed some sort of plumbing obstruction by this means (yuk!) as I did create a trickle of water that I captured in a Styrofoam cup finally provided me. The isolation wing windows and outside vents were open, bringing the temperature in isolation cells down into the 40s. I had nothing but the clothes on my back, and the shoes on my feet.
The night of the 14th, morning of the 15th, I spent sitting upon a stainless steel commode. I had been without sleep for approximately 80 hours due to being transported to Galveston, the auto accident, being poked and prodded all night at the hospital, being transported back to Estelle, and not being afforded appropriate housing. Sitting on that steel commode, in frigid temperatures, I began to hallucinate. I had the most marvelous conversation with my significant other of 15 years. That has been my best experience since being incarcerated. I must've been talking out loud. A guard came to check on me and seeing the condition I was in, after 15 hours (I have a talking wrist watch) in isolation, I was brought a mattress from an unoccupied isolation cell. It had been there the entire time. Some time after this a prisoner in isolation that had 2 blankets sent me one. They, I believe a Black persyn, stated when sending the blanket: "Black, white, brown, red, yellow, we all gotta stick together," which was encouraging - especially for Texas.
The first meal provided me was breakfast, the morning of the 15th. The guard serving trays spit in it. Thinking I was visually disabled rather than impaired, they spit in my food right in front of me. The breakfast tray was white paper that I could discern. The offending guard was in the hallway light directly in front of my cell. Rather than seen, I heard the guard spit into my food. Much like the pig that kicked Mumia into the Black Panther Party, this incident prompted me to commence a hunger strike.
Initially, my hunger strike demand was for adequate bedding, but as the days wore on, expanded to include being reunited with my extensive legal books, documents and papers; my correspondence materials (14 writing tablets, 14 stamped envelopes, 15 ink pens); hygiene items; and my political literature. After a week I was allowed my shower shoes, toothbrush, and toothpaste. I was informed this was all that was allowed a PHD confinee. As the statue designation would indicate, PHD is implemented prior to disciplinary hearing. There are no prison rules or regulations depriving a PHD prisoner possession of their property. I have been in PHD several time before and always have had possession of all my property until after a disciplinary hearing when disciplinary sanctions may restrict access to certain property items.
Rather remarkably, on November 25, I was allowed to order and receive commissary purchases: correspondence supplies (including a greeting card), soap/shampoo, fingernail clippers, and coffee, all items denied me from my confiscated and/or stored personal property. When the property officer delivered my shower shoes, etc., I inquired why I was not allowed correspondence materials so that I might contact my significant other. Their answer: "I don't know. I don't want to get involved."
Interestingly, my commissary receipt shows I am in transit status rather than PHD. The property officer claimed I am in administrative segregation level III, just shy of high security. This, absent a disciplinary hearing.
On November 23 I was approached in my isolation cell by an administrator informing me I was charged with several disciplinary infractions. This persyn did not introduce themselves as my counsel substitute (C/S, advocate) per the disciplinary at issue. It seems Mims's claims I threatened to inflict bodily harm on them by stating: "if I go in that dayroom, there's going to be problems for y'all tonight - I promise you that." Had I said what Mims claims, which I didn't, it's not much of a threat. Pretty lame. Mims also claims I failed to comply with a direct order by not putting my hands behind my back to be restrained. Again false. Finally, Mims stated I was a threat to institutional security cause they had to summon backup staff and a video camera per a "potential use of force." Gotcha! There was no backup, and there is no video.
Mims writeups are nothing more than attempts at creative writing, resulting in poor fiction.
The C/S delivered me with disciplinary notice 10 days into my PHD confinement. Understand, all, each and every time constraint in which to process and adjudicate a disciplinary action, had elapsed. On November 24 I was ushered before a disciplinary captain (DHO, Disciplinary Hearing Officer), at which time I categorically contested the entire disciplinary process from the beginning. I was summarily ejected from the hearing.
The next morning I was again brought before the DHO. When I again protested the disciplinary procedure, the DHO and C/S attempted to repress my dissent. In retort, I proclaimed the disciplinary hearing to be my hearing. The DHO then stated they could conduct the hearing without my presence. I countered: "This is my opportunity to be heard, is it not Captain Martinez?" Martinez then leaped from his seat and charged me as if to attack. Standing over me in a menacing manner, Martinez ordered my escorts to, "Get him outta here before I put him outta here!"
Rest assured, comrades, I was nonplussed. I can only assume the hearing at issue was held in absentia, though I've yet to be notified as to any outcome.
In regards to the hunger strike: though I still have not received my legal/political papers, including addressed, after receiving a mattress, blanket, and correspondence materials via commissary purchase, I broke my strike on November 26, a total of 11 days after embarking on such.