Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Texas Prisons

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www.prisoncensorship.info is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.

We hope this information will inspire people to take action and join the fight against the criminal injustice system. While we may not be able to immediately impact this particular instance of abuse, we can work to fundamentally change the system that permits and perpetuates it. The criminal injustice system is intimately tied up with imperialism, and serves as a tool of social control on the homeland, particularly targeting oppressed nations.

Allred Unit (Iowa Park)

Beto I Unit (Tennessee Colony)

Bexar County Jail (San Antonio)

Bill Clements Unit (Amarillo)

Billy Moore Correctional Center (Overton)

Bowie County Correctional Center (Texarkana)

Boyd Unit (Teague)

Cameron County Detention Center (Olmito)

Choice Moore Unit (Bonham)

Clemens Unit (Brazoria)

Coffield Unit (Tennessee Colony)

Connally Unit (Kenedy)

Cotulla Unit (Cotulla)

Dalhart Unit (Dalhart)

Darrington Unit (Rosharon)

Dominguez State Jail (San Antonio)

Eastham Unit (Lovelady)

Ellis Unit (Huntsville)

Estelle 2 (Huntsville)

Estelle High Security Unit (Huntsville)

Ferguson Unit (Midway)

Formby Unit (Plainview)

Garza East Unit (Beeville)

Gib Lewis Unit (Woodville)

Hamilton Unit (Bryan)

Harris County Jail Facility (Houston)

Hightower Unit (Dayton)

Hobby Unit (Marlin)

Hughes Unit (Gatesville)

Huntsville (Huntsville)

Jester III Unit (Richmond)

John R Lindsey State Jail (Jacksboro)

Jordan Unit (Pampa)

Lane Murray Unit (Gatesville)

Larry Gist State Jail (Beaumont)

LeBlanc Unit (Beaumont)

Lopez State Jail (Edinburg)

Luther Unit (Navasota)

Lychner Unit (Humble)

Lynaugh Unit (Ft Stockton)

McConnell Unit (Beeville)

Michael Unit (Tennessee Colony)

Middleton Unit (Abilene)

Montford Unit (Lubbock)

Mountain View Unit (Gatesville)

Neal Unit (Amarillo)

Pack Unit (Novasota)

Polunsky Unit (Livingston)

Powledge Unit (Palestine)

Ramsey I Unit (Rosharon)

Ramsey III Unit (Rosharon)

Robertson Unit (Abilene)

Rufus Duncan TF (Diboll)

Sanders Estes CCA (Venus)

Smith County Jail (Tyler)

Smith Unit (Lamesa)

Stevenson Unit (Cuero)

Stiles Unit (Beaumont)

Stringfellow Unit (Rosharon)

Telford Unit (New Boston)

Terrell Unit (Rosharon)

Torres Unit (Hondo)

Travis State Jail (Austin)

Vance Unit (Richmond)

Victoria County Jail (Victoria)

Wallace Unit (Colorado City)

Wayne Scott Unit (Angleton)

Wynne Unit (Huntsville)

Young Medical Facility Complex (Dickinson)

[COVID-19] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 71]
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Mishandling of COVID-19 in Texas Prisons

I am writing to inform you of the Ferguson Unit’s mishandling of COVID-19, which is common throughout the state of Texas. One unit (Pack Unit) has a lawsuit on it already in court as I write this. I’m trying to get in contact with that lawyer to take my case too.

My cellie was the first one to test positive on July 6th. They came and moved him to solitary per policy. While the guards dressed in full PPE waited for him, I stood next to him in only boxers. When I asked, “what about me?” I was ignored. Do you think they moved me? Do you think they tested me? Do you think they even gave me a bar of soap to clean the infected cell with? No, to all. I filed a Step 1 grievance on it and you can guess how it came back.

To make it worse, they moved him into the cell with me after only 12 days of being quarantined. I filed a Step 1 on this – no response yet. I filed a Step 2 on the first part when I got a copy of the rules that they are suppose to be following: CMHC Infection Control Manual B-14.52.

“Offenders that are close contacts of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases should be placed in medical restriction.”

“Thoroughly clean and disinfect all areas where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases spent time.”

“Offenders should be kept in medical isolation until at least 3 days (72 hrs) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath); and at least 14 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.”

You can see for yourself how they broke the rules. They didn’t stop there. They did a mass test of the unit, which is about 2,500 prisoners. Around 380 positives came back. They didn’t know what to do, so they cleared one row out here on B-block and housed some of them there with two and three row not having COVID! The block is already infested with rats and roaches. I mean, I got roaches crawling on me at night – it’s not a clean environment to begin with. I filed a Step 1 on all that too.

I’m not letting this pass. I’ve wrote the media, ACLU, and advocacy groups. The public needs to know how we are mistreated in here! Any help or ideas are welcome.

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[COVID-19] [Coffield Unit] [Texas]
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COVID-19 Explodes at Coffield in June, 80% non-symptomatic

My unit has been on lockdown for 41 days as of this day, 27 July 2020. We all was tested on 2 June 2020 with all negative results. But on the 16th of June prisoners started to get sick so we went on lockdown. The out breka caused a second testing for COVID-19, which at this time about 1000+ cases came back positive. Of those, 800+ with no symptoms and about 200 with symptoms so that what going on on the Coffield Unit.

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[Organizing] [Texas] [ULK Issue 71]
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A response to "Ambivalence in Texas" from ULK #70

Revolutionary Greetings,

After reading your article i was moved to share some insight from persynal experience. Comrade, each locale is somewhat unique, yet there are universal tactics of organizing and consciousness raising that are applicable wherever.

My first word of advice is to be less focused on those who are oblivious. Some elements are comfortable simply languishing while their life is dictated by those outside of themselves or their class. Remember, the amerikkkan experiment creates such a phenomenon and these elements are not individually at fault for their slavish obedience. At least not fully at fault.

Comrade, there is a simple yet profound adage, “organize the resistant.” See, we want to be the mind behind an already loaded gun, not having to load the gun and also pull the trigger. Simply put, observe your peers. There will be rebels in every grouping. This rebellion won’t always be of the revolutionary variety, yet this is why as Maoist, scientific leaders we’re to be the brains of the operation. Influence these cats. Provide direction.

Looking at the current uprisings surrounding police terrorism and systematic racism you will identify your own place in the overall picture. See the masses are energized by their own blatant oppression. Such constant oppression, combined with the economic downturn spurred by COVID-19 has unleashed a justifiable rage against the machine. However, single issue reform groups such as Black Lives Matter, mislead and misdirect the resistance and energy of the masses.

This is where the Maoists are to step up and take our place in history. Where the reformers, and integrationists, who false-flag as revolutionaries, misdirect and mislead, it is our duty to properly lead and direct the resistance and militant energy of the masses. Take that rage and organize into revolutionary productivity. Feed their imagination by allowing them to envision a communist society. Provide concrete formulas and programs that will get us from point A thru B and all the way to Z (communism). When it is being laid out like such, and the masses see your sincerity, that’ll add on.

Now, coming back to the individual organizer/influencer level. Again, seek unification with rebels. Those who’re already fighting the power in some form or fashion. Not everyone writes grievances, nor does everyone have to. Do not get caught up in having political allies meet you on your terms, meet them half way.

Secondly, in Texas, like most prison systems, the lumpen organizations and tribes largely dictate the flow of the prison activities. Therefore as an effective organizer you should make it a priority to build some form of communication line with the most influential members of each group. When you step to them be sure to have an effective plan of action outlined, or at least the beginning of one. Seek their input. In this plan of action you should:

  1. identify the specific problem you wish to solve
  2. articulate how said problem negatively effects these potential allies
  3. in your articulation, illuminate the reality of our collective identity as a prisoner class (this is important because it is the basis of your unity)
  4. Provide a list of possible campaigns y’all may partake in collectively, while illuminating different specific aspects of your struggle, such as there are those who can/may write formal complaints, those who can aid with outside support, some who can aid in physical protest, etc.

Furthermore, specifically when it comes to grievance campaigns, realize that some times you have to do all the work. Write multiple copies of grievances and pass them out to people explaining what the mission is and make it easy for them where all they have to do is sign the paper. After a while, people will become inspired by your sheer determination and raise their own level of contribution. But never, ever, focus entirely on what is not being done by the masses. Instead focus on what you’re not doing to inspire their actions.

For example, you can come to the masses which surround you with something similar to this:

  1. Announce the grievance campaign and what it’s about.
  2. Set a number such as 100 as the goal for grievances on a set issue.
  3. Write the master copy of the Step 1 yourself
  4. Circulate it around the cell block, around the building, at education, religious services, etc
  5. Again make it easy on them, provide copies.
  6. Articulate a set plan of action beyond the grievance campaign. What is it leading up to!? Because, justifiably Texas captives have no faith in the grievance system and thus see it as pointless.
  7. A good plan of action: organize grievance campaigns on all major issues. 1. new mail policies 2. new restrictive policy regarding funds 3. sanitation, etc.

Afterwards you should seek a federal investigation by the U.S. DOJ. The address is in your Texas Pack. Have all the participants mail in copies of all grievances, petitions etc.

Be mindful of the strict limitations of such an effort. The comrades at my locale have done this specifically and i’m currently awaiting the results of a federal inquiry. In conjunction, you may want to build off the unity and momentum by organizing actions that are more direct so to speak.

In conclusion, comrade, i hope some of this will be useful to you and others.

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[Civil Liberties] [Texas]
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Interference with Prisoner Mail in Texas

MIM,

I’m writing to inform you that I wrote you a few days ago to request 1) map of the world & 2) You, Prison Officials and Contract Law. I sent 6 stamps to cover postage. Today I was notified that I was in violation of B.P.-03-91 Uniform Offender Correspondence Rules, and stamps cannot be used in a monetary value to purchase merchandise. So TDCJ stole the stamps. I’m sending you the contraband form so if you get time you can appeal it. Also, it should be posted on your website.

How is this a security threat? What it is is a human rights violation to not allow someone to educate themselves. I’ve sent out stamps before in the past. They are enforcing this B.P. 3.91 because I wrote a grievance on mail room because 2 of my packages I sent out did not ever make it to its destination. So, since I’ve sent stamps before no problem, this here is exactly that retaliation. They do not care about policy when inmates need respite because of deadly HEAT or when an inmate needs to go to medical because of CHEST PAIN! I could go on & on… the Red Army crossed many bridges during the long march even though there was overwhelming opposition, so I will struggle on. Even though the odds are against me, I will struggle on.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We’ve received a few notices of this problem from Texas recently. Unfortunately, the only way you can send us funds right now is cash, stamps or cryptocurrency. We do appreciate and make good use of any funds comrades can send.

We agree that these petty laws are used to target and discourage people. Sometimes they’re just used randomly with the effect of creating a sense of hopelessness. So we commend this comrade for keeping on and not being discouraged. There are many hard roads ahead, where patience and diligence will be much-needed skills.

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[Censorship] [Texas]
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New TX Rules Censor Colored Envelopes, Children's Drawings

Hello, I am currently incarcerated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice at the Wayne Scott Unit. I received a copy Under Lock & Key Spring 2020, No. 70. I want to thank you for sharing it. There was some pretty interesting articles.

I want to refer to the article on pg. 20, “Feds threatening First Amendment with New Policies” written by a Federal prisoner. We have new changes to our correspondence too, it started 1 March 2020.

Since it has started I have been called 3 times to the mail room for denied correspondence, 2 cases where my mail was in a pink envelope, the other was my niece had drawn me a picture with crayon.

Before this change I been telling everyone I believe they can’t do this or it won’t last. I’m enclosing our new notice of changes to correspondence rules. I want to know what us as inmates can do? or what we can have our families do. I would like to receive any updated articles. Thank you for your time.

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [COVID-19] [Telford Unit] [Texas]
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URGENT: Take Action for Texas Coronavirus Sanitation

The Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice(TDCJ) is Lorie Davis, and she ordered TDCJ for all units to follow a list of sanitation [protocols]. You can email [email protected] to get this list that’s been ordered, and the phone number to call to report failure to follow these policies is below.

I wrote Lorie Davis and reported TDCJ Telford Unit not following policies implemented by Director Davis, and they still haven’t been implemented. Assistant Warden Mr. Marshall called me out and threatened me, told me to stop writing, and to set down.

My Texas Pack which I hustled hard to get has now come up missing. I think my legal mail is thrown away. If you can please send me a Texas Pack, I can send a donation when I get out, for all the hard work you do and help any way I can.

I need you to call Lori Davis, and please leave my name out of it. I fear what could happen. Right now I’m on the worst effected unit with COVID-19. There’s been 4 inmate deaths, 80 sick and 31 officers have gotten it. And the administration refuses to give any disinfectant to segregation inmates.

By Lorie Davis, we are supposed to be getting Double D [disinfectant]. We’ve not gotten it once. Bleach is not being used or anything else in administrative segregation.

**1-844-476-1289 is the number to report this

Also contact the TDCJ’s Director of Administrative Risk and Review Management Marvin Dunbar at (936) 437-4839 **

The Johnnies (sack) meals we get have little to no food on them. Special medical-prescribed meals, meat frees, are not sent out but every once in a while. Also we are not getting beverages of any kind.

We need you to report these things on Telford. Thank you for your time.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is one of many reports we’ve been getting regarding prison staff not following basic sanitation guidelines in prisons across the country. We just heard from a comrade who got eir parole delayed on a bogus rules violation write up in California for signing eir name on a group grievance that staff were not wearing masks. Not only are staff putting prisoners lives at risk by not following these procedures, but they are punishing people for bringing it to their attention!

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[Abuse] [Mountain View Unit] [Texas]
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Tough Talks of a Scared Pig

Well I made it to Mt. View. The offender who assaulted me went on to assault 4 other inmates, and threatened the warden. I guess she had her breaking point. And that makes me look at what I can do different now. Obviously reaching out to my fellow sisters is more important. But watching my surroundings and officers who tend to violate more rules than the offenders. This brings me to my next story. :)

On 16 March 2020 I was due to leave out on medical chain for physical therapy. I’d fought for 7 months to get physical therapy. My lay-in was for 6:30 AM. An officer came at 5:39 AM and told me I needed to get ready because they were about to leave. By 5:55AM I was ready. Then she said, “oh they left you.” The bus hadn’t arrived. Then she said “oh, it’s count time.” Well shift changed and I called the other officer and she said, “you refused your medical chain.” I never went out to sign a refusal? I asked for a grievance and one of the officers stated, “I don’t care, grieve it.” Of course, one of the officers I’d just grieved for vulgar language and refusal of my right to a grievance. This time she refused to call rank. This was before the chain bus left. Why do officers act as if our grievances don’t phase them? I just witnessed the same 2 officers refuse this offender medical attention, the right to speak with rank, the right to shower, and the right to go to chow. Not to add that this offender spoke up on my behalf. Is that a coincidence? I’m walking her through the grievance steps she needs to take.

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[Education] [Drugs] [Civil Liberties] [Texas]
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Study Group's Long Struggle; Face Drugs and Censorship

Revolutionary Greetings!

As you know, March 2020 TDCJ has made changes. No more greeting cards are allowed in, only ten photos at a time and more little changes, such as the only ones allowed to send money or ecom packages must be on your phone or visitation list.

They are trying to slow the drug market down. However no changes for good time work time or payment for our labor. Still slaves to the system imagine that. Anyway the study group I am working on hasn’t grown. We are three strong. It’s a start! We decided to post “Did you know”’s and “Just think about it” notes to get the attention of people. A lot of people are still stuck on K-2 and other drugs.

I deeply feel this is what they want to keep us from thinking, but never will I give up hope or educating men. We have a major fight on our hands and the battle is far from won. Not only are we fighting the oppressors but we must educate the masses. I read and studied a lot of material I still haven’t come to the understanding on how to influence people of the knowledge or political education or even a common platform that will help the Texas prison system. We all have been pushing peace so that’s a start.

We just now need to get rid of the Meth and K-2! Our unit just came off lockdown they had a surprise unit sweep, getting rid of a lot of K-2 and Meth only to see the prison block flooded again with that shit. Over 50 cell phones were found and pounds of K-2. No big changes cause it’s still here it seems like even more though. In other words they took pictures then put it right back on the streets.


MIM(Prisons) adds: In our survey on drugs in prisons conducted in 2017, 39% of respondents said staff brought in most drugs, and 78% mentioned staff as part of the problem.(1) From the ghettos of New York to the Iran-Contra scandal, drugs and drug money have been important tools of the oppressor in its war on the oppressed.

As this comrade points out, recent changes in mail polices to address drugs in prison are a joke, and only serve to limit support and education for prisoners. The results only reinforce the fact that drugs are being brought in by staff. Meanwhile, the lack of connection to family, community and organizations that are addressing social ills is counter to any goals related to rehabilitation.

This comrade is on the right track. Providing connection, meaning and hope through independent institutions like their study group is the best counter measure we currently have to the reactionary effects of drugs on the people. We want to hear more about the “Did you know” fliers. What topics and slogans are working to reach the masses that we could share with others? Let us know.

Notes: 1. Wiawimawo, November 2017, Drugs, Money and Individualism in U.$. Prison Movement, Under Lock & Key No. 59.

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[Legal] [Grievance Process] [Abuse] [COVID-19] [Civil Liberties] [Huntsville] [Texas]
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TDCJ Exceeding Loss of Privileges Rule, Safety Violations and COVID-19

[…] Another matter that has become a prevalent problem within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is the DHOs on this unit doling out penalties imposed that are termed as “too severe”. They have it in their heads that they’re allowed to administer 60 days Commissary or Recreation restrictions. Contrary to this belief, the new GR-106 “Disciplinary Rules and Procedure for Offenders” (August 2019) – on page 19, section VII “Major disciplinary hearing: penalties” A.1.(c) remaining unchanged from the previous (Feb. 2015) revision that “Loss of privileges not to exceed 45 days per disciplinary case.” This means no more than 45 days per I-47MA: regardless of how many cases are listed on the form.

My having just copied the TDCJ E.D.-03.76 (Rev. April 17, 2019) and on page 2, section III A, it is ordered by the Executive Director, Bryan Collier, that upon the request the [Counsel substitutes office] shall give each Offender a copy of the August 2019 R-106. No longer can they merely refer you to the law library to view the copy in there. Also, in this E.D.-03.76, take a close look at the “POLICY” wording. This “policy” is reiterated in the A.D.-04.35’s (June 17, 2019) “POLICY” which covers “review of Offender Disciplinary Actions.” In this same A.D. (04.35), at section III “Offender Grievance Review” the Investigators of your appeal may now “modify the penalty”, or “modify the charges” in lieu of simply dismissing the bloody case and having a new hearing.

I cannot help but believe that this “new(?)” ability to “modify” the punishment or charge is a MONEY thing. After all, it is presented to me Upon Information & Belief: the DHOs receive a boon, bounty, reward, or even let’s say a monetary incentive for running disciplinary hearings and finding the inmate/defendant guilty. There is a certain amount of funds allocated by the TDCJ Agency to each unit for the running of disciplinary cases. For each individual case written and run there is an amount transferred from this allocation. And when the inmate/defendant is found guilty the DHO receives a stipend (a fixed sum of money paid periodically for services to compensate for expenses), too, from this allocation. Therefore, the guilty ruling is upheld in any creative manner imaginable. This is my opinion; violation of due process –except, the Texas Criminal Appeals system are pulling the same shit on direct appeal.

To this turn of events and revealings of “how it is” I refer to the above mentioned E.D.-03.76 & A.D.-04.35 “POLICIES” both of which vehemently state the “TDCJ staff shall not order, require, suggest, or in any manner, either directly of indirectly, impose disciplinary quotas… Inappropriate disciplinary actions are strictly prohibited…” If such Information & Belief is true: the TDCJ is in Big Trouble.

NOTE OF REQUEST: In the E.D.-03.76 it is referenced as one of its Authorities the B.P.-02.08. This B.P. is not available to me through the Law Library. I feel that it might be of great assistance in the cause for me to procure a copy of it. Would y’all be so kind as to supply me with a one, please? […]

I have formulated and filed a second state tort suit against TDCJ Agency Personnel Staff in their Professional & Personal capacities. This one is in regards to the watering-down of the training standards of “new Boots/OJTs” in increasing the hazardousness of the overall environment on the Old Red Brick Prisons with mechanical uniform-rolling doors. On 26 June 2019, a one half inch of my left thumb was ripped – with the nail – from my hand when the doors were closed; void of adequate notification/warning/announcement of the door’s closure. I managed to file it on 9 March 2020. I know enough about civil action filings to know that professional assistance will significantly enhance my chance of success. If y’all know someone who is willing and qualified in the wranglings of civil tort actions, I would greatly appreciate an opportunity to interact with that person(s). […]

We are on lock-down/quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic; wearing masks any time we leave the cell, yet, before the lock-down I spent 90% of my time in the cell. There is nothing in that day-room or TV that is going to assist my efforts to overturn my conviction. I spend my waking hours indefatigably doing legal oriented activities – for SEVEN years now.

At the same time I pray fervently for y’all to be successful in locating the up-to-date TDCJ “Offenders Grievance Operations Manual” (OGOM) because we Texas Prisoners NEED to know the parameters and rules under which the Offender Grievance Program is operated. This is akin to navigating an obstacle course blindfolded with our hands tied behind our backs. There has to be someone out there capable of navigating the Texas TDCJ website and finding this document/publication.

They say there are about 15 inmates here with… well… they are in a wing all to themselves; whether they actually have the virus is not divulged to us across the hall from them. There are about 3 or 5 wings absolutely quarantined and shut down at this time. Everyone is under orders to wear the inmate-manufactured masks – two layers of T-shirt material with tie strings sewed into a rectangle. It’s squirrelly, not every prisoner is sequestered to his cell, there are a bunch of prisoners going around doing slave-work for the Agency personnel staff.

This is Hardhead signing off until next time.

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[COVID-19] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas]
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Staff in Texas Prison Say "It's just the flu" and Ignore COVID-19 Precautions

Peace,

First of all I want to thank you all for the mental support that you have extended throughout this year leading up to my release. It was much needed and extremely vital, especially to my philosophical development. Thank you. I am dissecting and internalizing J. Sakai’s “Settlers” that I received from you. Definitely giving me a few “hmm” moments. And I’ve read so much non-conventional history that I’ve gotten used to the same perspectives in different packaging. So it is a refreshing read. I also received “Malcolm X Speaks” and I am sure I don’t have to expound on how much I’m enjoying it. I greatly appreciate it.

I have received everything you have sent. Surprisingly enough, considering how backwards and close-minded the state of Texas is. These officers are not heeding the cautionary guidelines pertaining to COVID-19. When I confronted the Captain and Sgt. they both tried to convince me that this is not as serious as the media portrays, and that the “regular” flu (oxymoron) has killed more. Obviously, they are too uninformed, or just too stupid to realize that the common flu may kill 30-40 thousand per year with a vaccine and without social distancing, but this has killed 60-70 thousand plus in just (4) months, with no vaccine and world-wide social distancing. They are Trump supporters so I’m not surprised. I’ve had a mask since February, but they handle our food and I am a G5 custody level so they have to escort me to the shower which is the only time I leave this cell. I have a mask on as I write this. Hopefully, I can make it out of here disease-free. Unless I’ve already contracted it and am asymptomatic. Who knows, these people are imbeciles.

Anyway, I will write again within my last (2) weeks.

In struggle.

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