No Wheelchair Accessible Cells in Mark W. Stiles Unit

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[Abuse] [Grievance Process] [Stiles Unit] [Texas]

No Wheelchair Accessible Cells in Mark W. Stiles Unit

Dear MIM,

This letter is on behalf of all wheelchair and/or handicapped offenders here in Texas Department of Criminal Justice Correctional Institutions Division(TDCJ-CID) on the Mark W. Stiles unit.

I’m in an Assistive Disability Services (ADS) wheelchair that’s covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) through its Americans Corrections Associates (ACA) Standards. I had received a major disciplinary write up for refusing to go into a regular cell with a cell mate because it’s not a wheel chair handicap accessible approved cell.

What’s a wheelchair handicap accessible cell you ask? It’s the following:

  1. The in-cell locker must be at chest level while sitting in a wheelchair, not on the floor.
  2. The in-cell shelf must be at chest level while sitting in a wheelchair, not way too high out of reach way above the walls at the top bunk area.
  3. The in-cell stool by its table is not supposed to be there so a wheelchair can roll under the table and use it.
  4. The in-cell toilet/sink area is supposed to have handicapped rails to grab onto when transferring from the wheelchair.
  5. The in-cell bottom bunk/bed area is supposed to have handicapped rails to grab onto for supports when transferring from the wheelchair.
  6. The entrance at the doorway of the cell is supposed to be wide enough to fit a wheelchair.
  7. No wheelchair offenders are allowed to have a cell mate, to prevent them from being taken advantage of.
  8. The general population day rooms are supposed to have a table lacking stools to allow wheelchair offenders to have equal access and share the tables. The day room’s rest room area is supposed to have rails to grab onto as in the cell.
  9. Wheelchair offenders are supposed to have 24 hours access to a wheelchair and/or handicap shower due to bodily discharges of feces and urine and the need for changes of clothing.

The above mentioned wheelchair and/or handicap accessible cells are nowhere to be found for handicapped offenders on the Mark W. Stiles Unit. Don’t get me wrong – there are a handful of single handicap cells in its 7 buildings, but most of the offenders in them aren’t even handicapped nor in a wheelchair. Buildings 11, 12, 3, 4 and 8 don’t have any single handicapped cells at all. So wheelchair offenders are being forced to live with a cellmate.

There have been 2 murders of wheelchair handicapped offenders by their cellmates. The Stiles Unit administration knew about the danger but still allowed handicapped offenders to live with non-handicapped ones, creating the 2 murders.

Right now on 12 Building restrictive housing area we have several of the wheelchair handicapped offenders living in their pod’s day room areas because their wheelchairs are too big to fit through the entrance to any cell. But since I’m the only wheelchair handicapped offender that protested against this and refused to go into a regular cell that is not wheelchair accessible, I received a major disciplinary write up only for exercising my disabilities rights.

The TDCJ state classification committee are the ones in charge and are consistently approving wheelchair offenders to be transferred to the Mark W. Stiles Unit, going against their medical restrictions and ignoring their disabilities.

Several of the wheelchair offenders do accept this form of discrimination due to the fact that they do not know the laws or prison rules, and they fear getting a disciplinary like I did or being placed in 11 Building restrictive housing, which is used as a form of retaliation and harassment. In restrictive housing it can be difficult to get medication or get to medical appointments because of the need to be escorted everywhere and TDCJ is very short handed in the Mark W. Stiles Unit. TDCJ is shorthanded here because of corruption uncovered among its own officers in the Unit.

A class of wheelchair and/or handicapped offenders are suffering because the lack of appropriate cells is not being fixed, and my request form involving over 20 inmates is being ignored by the authorities. My Americans With Disabilities Act grievance under board policy 03.82 VII A 4,5 and VIII has been denied 3 times by the unit grievance investigators. Please! Investigate TDCJ wheelchair handicap offenders needs.