Texas Restrictions on Indigent Correspondence Campaign Update
When a prisoner writes the TDCJ Executive Director it will always be forwarded to the Ombudsman. They (Ombud) will always reply that they do not respond to prisoner complaints and that the grievance procedures should be followed. It's a "closed loop" to prisoners.
The Call to Action that I wrote which included the contacts were primarily for our family and friends to put pressure on authorities so that our grievances are more effective - eg. our families should contact the Executive Director and Ombudsman to file an official complaint about the policy change.
I got my Step 2 back around November and I sent it to the Texas Civil Rights Project to see if they would be interested in representing this issue in a lawsuit. I am yet to get a response from the Texas Civil Rights Project. It could be worth while if someone could contact them (TCRP) about this issue to prompt a response to my correspondence to them as I know they get piles of mail every week.
We not only need to file grievances but also strongly encourage our freeworld friends and family to contact all the contacts on the Call to Action to put a lot of pressure on the Texas Board of Criminal Justice to repeal the policy.
I believe it is futile to send the Texas Grievance Petition to the Executive Director because of the closed loop with the correspondence being forwarded to the Ombudsman. It could be worthwhile for freeworld people to send a version of the petition to the Exec Dir but I think prisoners need to start directing the petition to someone else.
I also want to mention that this mail restriction should not affect legal/privileged correspondence - prisoners should still be able to send 5 per week.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We received information from another prisoner on this same issue:
Comrades in Texas, do not send your petitions to the Executive Director or Central Grievance office because they are not working in our favor. They only forward the petitions to departments that don't address these issues, who contacted me and said "address this grievance related issues on a unit level with the grievance investigators."
We on the Polunsky plantations are sending our petitions to: ARRM Division, Administrator, PO Box 99, Huntsville, TX 77342-0099. I suggest that all Texas prisoners do the same so that we will be in solidarity. Let's flood their office with our complaints. If this doesn't work we will flood the DOJ in Washington DC. Let's work in solidarity!
We agree with these comrades' recommendations that prisoners focus sending their grievances to somewhere other than the Executive Director. We suggest the following addresses:
ARRM Division, Administrator
PO Box 99
Huntsville, TX 77342-0099
Senator John Whitmire
PO Box 12068, Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711
Chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice
PO Box 13084
Austin, TX 78711-3084
We also now have a sample Step 2 grievance available to those who had their Step 1 on this issue rejected. Write to us if you need a copy of this.
We know this campaign is not going to change the criminal injustice system in any significant way. But restrictions on mail access is equivalent to cutting many people off from the outside world. And for those who are engaged in educational and organizing work, this is a significant problem. For this reason, focusing a campaign on restrictions on indigent correspondence is important to our broader organizing work.
Resist Restrictions on Indigent Correspondence