Successes Against Retaliation in Texas
Just a short letter to let you know that I received your Texas Pack, which I found to have lots of needed information in it. The issue of the July/August Under Lock & Key was DENIED because of something on page 11 of the publication. I appealed the denial and lost, but I mailed it home for future reading.
I am a victim of harassment and retaliation, which stems from my constant filing of complaints and grievances, condemning the unprofessional actions of unit officials and officers. I've had to endure some pretty rough times because of my never-ending flow of complaints. Unit officials have conspired to file false disciplinary infractions against me in hopes of silencing me or discrediting me. During my last stint of incarceration (1997-2003) unit officials told me that if I didn't stop filing complaints, that they were going to make my time hard. They filed an infraction of "assault on an officer," which had me thrown in solitary and stripped of my trustee status and good time. When I continued to file grievances against the unjust actions they had taken against me, I was once again charged with "assault on an officer" (my foot accidentally bumped an officer's foot). They were trying to prove that I couldn't beat them. Well, I eventually got one officer fired for harassment and retaliation, and a Lieutenant was allowed to resign and return in six months. When he returned, he was sent to another unit, (where I had also been sent to) and had to work as a regular CO for six months before he could apply for his rank back.
Upon seeing me, he called me a "bitch," which I immediately wrote up. This time, there happened to be a Major that did not put up with officer harassment and retaliation, and he immediately got both of us in his office and made the officer apologize to me and promise to leave me alone. I was falsely charged with several disciplinary infractions after I filed a grievance against an officer for calling me a "black son of a bitch," back in January of this year. When I refused to drop my complaint, I received a major disciplinary for being "out of place" (not attending a law library session, which is voluntary).
A couple of months later, I received another major case for "failure to obey an order" (another trumped up charge) and after being found guilty of it, I was stripped of my general population status and re-assigned to G-4 (medium custody). The whole purpose of charging me with the major infractions were to 1) get me transferred from the unit and 2) discredit me so that my complaint against the officer for use of slurs/hostile epithets could be viewed as a lie against that officer. I was shipped off of the unit and all attempts to have something done to the officer who called me a black son of a bitch were ditched.
After arriving here on this unit to be locked away for 6 months on medium custody, one of the ladies who was part of my Unit Classification Committee (UCC), disagreed that I should be classified as medium custody, because the charges were weak. Now I am hoping that the two major infractions that I received earlier this year have no bearing on whether I make parole. There are NOT a lot of guys who are willing to stand up for their rights like me. I recently wrote a letter to Senator John Whitmire, informing him of the issues we are plagued with over here at this century-old unit. Just last week, we had not one, not two, but several pipes burst, leaving us without clean water to drink. Half of the building had NO WATER to flush their toilets, and there were restrictions on showering.
I'm continuing in my fight to bring attention to all of the ruthless officers that continue to oppress us behind these walls. Please let me know what I can do to help your cause. I am indigent, but I'm able to write and get things out.
I'm sure you all know that as of September 2017, solitary confinement in TDCJ was abolished. The inmates at the Pack Unit in Navasoto, Texas found help with the heat during the summer by way of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals when they affirmed class certification. Judge Keith Ellison ordered TDCJ to put air conditioning in the Pack Unit, which was found to be a "hot box" to the inmates housed there. Instead of putting air conditioning in housing areas, TDCJ shipped the inmates to cooler quarters in other facilities. The reaffirmed class certification paves the way for inmates' lawyers to try and win a permanent injunction.
Also, inmates throughout TDCJ have won the right to wear 4-inch beards, and Muslim offenders are supposed to be able to wear their kufis all over the unit, yet state officials are trying to stonewall us (yes, I am Muslim) from doing it. Now, I've heard that on some of the more hardened units, officials would rather allow the wearing of kufis rather than risk any type of rebellion. The unit I'm on is NOT one of them, yet I'm working to get some type of wording on WHY we aren't being allowed to wear them here. The case citing is Ali vs Stephens, 822 F.3d 776 (5th Cir. 2016) U.S. App LEXIS 7964. Until next time, stay strong.
MIM(Prisons) responds: There are a number of seasoned comrades in Texas fighting and winning, in spite of harassment and retaliation from TDCJ staff and admin. We encourage others to look to this comrade's work for an example of eir bravery, dedication, and successes!
The Texas Pack that MIM(Prisons) distributes is a good jumping off point for people who need basic information on filing grievances and fighting against some of the most common things prison staff do to take advantage of us. Most of the information in the Texas Pack ought to be in the law library by any reasonable standard, and even TDCJ's own policies and procedures. Since the TDCJ isn't following its own rules, and not informing prisoners of what those rules are and the process to have them enforced, we have compiled this information. Send a $2.50 donation to our SF address, or a contribution to ULK, to get the Texas Pack.
Another aspect of this author's experience that we want to draw attention to is how eir work impacts the quality of life of other prisoners on eir unit. Getting a guard kicked off the unit, suspended, or being told to tone down eir harassment, serves not only this author but also the prisoners around em. Same goes for the impact of lawsuits (for better or worse). So if you're reading this and a guard isn't harassing you, know that it's probably because of all the people who have fought on your behalf ahead of you. Maybe now it's time to start contributing to help others!