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)

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)

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)

Jester III Unit (Richmond)

John R Lindsey State Jail (Jacksboro)

Jordan Unit (Pampa)

Lane Murray Unit (Gatesville)

Larry Gist State Jail (Beaumont)

Lopez State Jail (Edinburg)

Luther Unit (Navasota)

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)

Robertson Unit (Abilene)

Rufus Duncan TF (Diboll)

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)

[Organizing] [Texas]
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Lead the Youngsters by Example

This letter is about how we need to encourage and educate each other while we are all in here. I am in my late 30s and this is my first arrest ever in my life. So the first couple of weeks was rough, until one of the guards made a threat against me and I did a greivance. The other prisoners laughed and said it would do no good. At first I felt they were right. The CO I wrote up was given the grievance and ripped it up in front of me and started to tell the others I was a snitch. I felt helpless.

Then I realized every other prisoner is between 17 and 23 — youngsters. So I decided to educate myself and others. So I got a copy of the grievance policy and exhausted it. Then a copy of the state commission policies and filed with them.

Finally I got a copy of your newsletter and passed it around and — bam! — the fire was lit in 2 people on my rung. They wanted to know how to file grievances so I showed them, walked them thru, and gave the support and explained that it all takes time to get any kind of legal paperwork done. After 2 and a half months, 2 suspensions and termination, I was moved to population. After about 2 hours of talking with the 20 inmates I was going to be housed with, we handed in 19 grievances. So now i am back in seg. The basic message is this: we need to teach these youngsters, educate them. As a common voice we can be heard and make a difference.

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[Medical Care] [Beto I Unit] [Texas]
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Texas Medical Unit Lacking Basic Accomodations for Disabled Prisoners

I need more info on the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. I do know that handrails are considered reasonable accommodation for disabled persons. How is it that the federal government recognizes me as fully disabled but the state of Texas does not? The grievances i have filed have all come back with Basic Generic answers and the person whom signed their name was not legible, no rank or official title was listed and they came back months after the deadline. When I wrote the unit grievance investigator my I-60s never return. That's crazy. I am in danger of losing a limb if I fall, why isn't there handrails in the shower or around the toilets? And why are my grievances basically ignored. What's going on in the Texas prison system. Beto is considered a medical unit that's not equipped to handle serious inmates with disabilities. I see guys with walkers, canes, crutches, leg braces all struggling to get around and to bathe. The warden "Norris Jackson" told me himself that Beto doesn't have medical showers, but TDCJ website says it does. Well I live here every day and I am disabled and there are no medical showers. So the website is a lie.

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[Hunger Strike] [Wynne Unit] [Texas]
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Narovirus Lockdown at Wynne

5 May 2018 - The unit has been on lockdown because of a virus that had all of us throwing up and could hardly walk. They locked us down for 30 days but did nothing. It was Naro. Look it up. They had this unit on the internet and Facebook. Then they had 140 offenders that went on hunger strike for some of the wrongdoings that are still going on with the officer. I write more on that later but for now just keep up the good work.

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[Abuse] [Hunger Strike] [Wynne Unit] [Texas]
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Pressure On in Wynne

2018 May 7 - You may have seen on the national news a large number of medium custody offenders are on hunger strike. Their main grievance is Warden Strong using group punishment for the actions of individual inmates.

She placed the wing on 30-day lockdown because one inmate was accused of staff assault in the hallway. The incident did not even happen on the wing itself. As a result, the inmate was moved to the disciplinary wing and shipped from the unit. The other 200 men, who had nothing to do with the incident, were put on 30-day lockdown with no hot meals. And all of their cells were trashed by officers doing "cell searches."

As a result of the media coverage, internal affairs started an investigation into inmates' claims about the time the unit was hit with a Norovirus outbreak that lasted for 3 weeks. For the immedate future, all grievances are going off unit for review.

I would like the Texas Pack to help inmates file legitimate grievances. For example, being held in dayrooms without a toilet for 3+ hours when cell access is supposed to be granted hourly. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. I've enclosed a SASE.

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[National Oppression] [Wayne Scott Unit] [Darrington Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 62]
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Forced Prison Labor in Texas: Exposing the Fraudulent Good Time/Work Time Credit Scheme

Reification is a term that refers to using the labor power of the people and in turn using it as a powerful force to keep them under oppression.

The only way Texas can afford to keep 150,000 people imprisoned and continue to give parole "set offs" after they are parole eligible by law is through the use of forced labor to offset operating costs. Theoretically speaking if TDCJ were forced by law to pay prisoner workers through a new supreme court precedent, or if prisoners quit participating in enslaving themselves, parole would be presumptive and automatically granted at first eligibility.

Our freedom is at stake here, friends. That is why this issue is absolutely vital. In Texas, per a 1993 law which was passed in reaction to the 90s crack-cocaine-fueled crime wave, violent or aggravated offenders must serve 1/2 their entire sentence before becoming parole eligible. And often times after decades of dreams, hope, hard labor and good behavior, alas many are given the dreaded "set off." So much time has elapsed that their momma has died, their support structures have crumbled, and they have become old men in terrible health due to poor diet, unable to gain meaningful employment, dreams are dashed. All their efforts seem totally futile.

It reminds me of the book Animal Farm by George Orwell and how they treat the work horse, Boxer. They push the old work horse to work harder and harder for the revolution, promising him great comforts and retirement benefits one day in the future. However the day comes when he becomes so old and unable to work they send him off to slaughter at the glue factory. TDCJ's treatment of its prisoners is very analogous to this. When will we wake up?


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an interesting take on a theme that we hear about constantly from our subscribers in Texas. This writer is saying that if prisoners didn't help offset the operational costs of their own imprisonment, that TDCJ would be forced to release them because it could no longer afford to keep so many people locked up.

There is a contradiction between the high costs to keep people in prison, and the pressure applied to the criminal injustice system from citizens who want to keep oppressed nations in check. Texas is one of the most racist borderland states and has a very long history of national oppression and white supremacy.(1) The call for harsher sentences coinciding with the crack epidemic is simply a manifestation of this racism. It's not about fear of violence; it's about fear of Black violence.

TDCJ certainly would have a harder time financing its prison operations if it actually had to pay prisoners for their labor. But if it started releasing people because of these financial problems, we'd be hearing it from the citizenry. We aren't sure what lengths the state would go to to appease its white constituency.

In fact, we have also heard countless reports of what TDCJ does when it has "budget problems": it makes conditions worse for the prisoners by skipping rec time, medical call, and other duties it has to prisoners. We have yet to receive a letter from someone saying that TDCJ has started releasing prisoners due to budget problems.

The battle here isn't between the prisoners getting paid for labor, and the TDCJ not paying them. The battle is between the interests of the oppressed nations who are housed in TDCJ prisons, with their entire lives stolen from them, and the Amerikkkan nation which has a strong material, social, and cultural interest in keeping these oppressed nations locked up. If that battle manifests in a struggle for work to be paid for in TDCJ, or for TDCJ to honor good time - work time credits in releasing prisoners, then we are all for it. But we can't lose sight of this bigger contradiction, which is what the entire prisoner labor struggle rests on.

This contradiction has always existed since the beginning of the Amerikan nation, and even prior to that when it was still in development. And it has only been heightened under the Trump presidency. We aim to build our power so that we can overcome the contradiction, in unity with oppressed peoples all over the world. Any struggle for paid prisoner labor should primarily be a struggle to build our internal unity and organizing.

Notes:
1. [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, by a MIM(Prisons) study group.
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[Abuse] [Lane Murray Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 62]
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Lane Murray Abuses

The primary problems and concerns I have for women prisoners that reside in Gatesville, Texas are the following:

  • Extreme deadly heat: The metal walls on our cubicles, metal bunk and tables are burning our skin to the touch (i.e. arm, face, legs, feet, etc.). The building made out of metal and cement is cooking us alive!
  • Poor ventilation: The hot air that does come in thru the sparse vents and small windows is burning our lungs and cooking our organs, to the point that it feels like suffocation. (The fan that is sold to us on commissary feels like blowing fire to our face and bodies).
  • Medical neglect: Unethical, unprofessional, abusive, retaliative, cruel, prejudistic, threatening, neglectful, deliberately indifference, inhumane (violating 8th amendment). Note: women are dying due to this medical neglect – none were sentenced to death penalty.
  • Suicide encouragement by CO staff and security: Taunting, coercion, verbal abusive, bullying, extreme heat, neglectful mental counseling, prolonged exposure to segregation contribute to this problem.
  • Mal-nourishment and food deprivation: Incorrect amount of portions served to women, excessive amount of "Johnnys" served daily and 3 times per day (with no fruit, no vegetables, nor drink when Johnnys served). The "milk" that is served at chow is not properly made. It looks more like dirty water. Lack of proper nutrition is causing a myriad of diseases, illnesses, bone deficiency and/or death for incarcerated women.
  • Black mold: Showers/toilet stalls are grossly infested with this killer mold, which causes headaches, ailments, debilitating the already weak immune system that is caused by lack of healthy nutrition. Mold is getting in our lungs and colonizing – this is verified with chest x-rays and shows granuloma.
  • Sexual harassment: Cameras are pointed directly into cubicles. We are continuously being called bitches, skanks, cunts, hoes, sluts, dope heads, crack whore, dumb ass and fuck you. (Please note, rank and COs equally do this.)
  • Unsanitary conditions: Captain Dixon, kitchen CO, makes the women combine all the leftover used kool-aid by other women to be drank by women that are showing up to chow hall to eat. This is causing cross-contamination, illnesses, spreading diseases, health put at risk daily. (Note: no gloves, no proper PPE, reusing 1-time-use hair nets, and being served by women that have poor hygiene, carry Hepatitis, HIV and other diseases.) This is illegal.
  • No outdoor recreation: Due to the claim that there is short staff, or no staff, we are continuously denied sunlight and fresh air. This neglect is causing our health problems to exacerbate, hair fall out, skin develop psoriasis. Our skin is pruning.
  • Immigrant discrimination: No rehabilitation opportunity, no education/vocational/college opportunity because of our nationality and/or our legal status. No TV channels in our Spanish language, and no interpreters available.

We need your advocacy so that we receive the correct and legal conditions and medical treatments. Please note that none of us women prisoners were sentenced to the death penalty, but yet many women have died due to cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners in this unit. We have dubbed these units "the Texas holocaust" because of the horrific and sadistic living conditions.


MIM(Prisons) responds: The horrible conditions listed above exist throughout the the United $tates prison and jail system, in some facilities and states more or less than others. MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within have an analysis of why the U.$. government tolerates and encourages these conditions, namely to perpetuate a system of social control. You can find this analysis scattered through Under Lock & Key.

We encourage our subscribers to also think more deeply about these problems. Reporting on the conditions is just the first step in our struggle. Ask yourself, what do you think are the reasons for the horrible conditions at Lane Murray Unit, and at the facility where you are held. What is it about our society that makes this possible? And what can we do to change it? What has been tried in the past, and what has had relative success? What has failed? Why? What is one thing you can do today to work to the end of the conditions listed above? How does that one action relate to a long-term strategy to resolve the conditions laid out in this letter from Lane Murray Unit?

It is through this sort of analysis that we can build correct revolutionary theory and practice. So we encourage our readers to discuss these questions with others at your unit, and send us your answers to these questions so we can continue the dialogue.

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[Legal] [Campaigns] [Abuse] [Texas] [ULK Issue 62]
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Active Lawsuits on Texas Conditions

2017 DECEMBER — My beloved comrades at ULK, please take whatever steps necessary to convey this information to your readers, particularly those on the Texas plantations. It is my hope this will move a few to join in this all-out attack against mass incarceration, which those brothers on the Eastham Plantation are being persecuted for.

First, we have launched an attack on the totality of the living conditions on this plantation: double-celling, sleep deprivation, extreme heat, contaminated water, no toilets in the day rooms and rec yard, overcrowded showers. At present we have 5 lawsuits filed and hoping to have 5 more by the first of the year. They are listed at the end of this missive for those who might want to obtain copies and/or file for intervention. I would urge each plantation to file because each plantation has different violations, which in their totality are cruel and unusual.

Next, we have launched an at attack on the symbiotic-parasitic-relationship between Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and the American Correctional Association (ACA). Last year we sent numerous letters to the ACA headquarters in Virginia with various complaints including the delayed posting of scheduled audits. Apparently someone was moved to do the right thing. Then notices for the January 2018 audit were posted here in October. As a result, we of the Community Improvement Committee (CIC) here on the unit have sent petitions with hundreds of names with numerous complaints of ACA violations and requests for a Q&A in the gym or chapel. This is being done with individual letters as well. Plus, we have sent the actual notice to various reform organizations requesting them to visit the unit during the audit and act as overseers pointing out particular areas of violations such as the giant cockroach infestation beneath the kitchen.

Next we have and intend to continue to urge the public to stay on top of their legislators to change the law, making it mandatory that prisoners be compensated for their labor.

Finally, we have filed an application for Writ of Habeas Corpus requesting to be released immediately due to the fact that the time sheet shows one has completed 100% of his sentence – that even without the good time, the flat time and the work time equals the sentence imposed by the court. In addition we are drafting something similar for those sentenced under the one-third law. We are submitting to the court that these prisoners have a short-way discharge date. The application for Writ of Habeas Corpus was first filed in the state court in Travis County and denied without a written order in the Texas court of criminal Appeals (#WR-87,529-01 Tr.Ct. No. D-1-DC-02-301765A). We are now in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District Tyler Division (McGee v Director, #6:17cv643). This info is supplied so that those with the means may download the info and/or keep track of the case. The following are the case numbers for the totality of living conditions complaint, which is also in the U.S. District in Tyler:

Walker v. Davis, et al., #6:17cv166
Henderson v. Davis, #6:17cv320
Douglas v. Davis, #6:17cv347
Burley v. Davis, #6:17cv490

The Devil whispers: "You can't withstand the storm"
The Warrior replied: "I am the storm." - The Mateuszm


MIM(Prisons) responds: These comrades are pushing the struggles to improve conditions inside Texas prisons along its natural course. Countless prisoners have sent grievances, grievance petitions, letters to the Ombudsman, letters to elected officials, and letters to various TDCJ administrators on these same issues. We have seen some victories, but mostly we've had barriers put in our way.

The next step laid out for us is to file lawsuits, which is another kind of barrier. Lawsuits take years and sometimes decades to complete, and innumerable hours of work. When we do win, we then have to go through additional lawsuits to ensure enforcement. And on and on it goes...

If we expect the lawsuits to bring final remedy, we must be living in a fantasy. A quintessential example of how the U.$. government behaves regarding lawsuits can be seen in how it totally disrespects treaties with First Nations. When the U.$. government, or its agencies, doesn't like something, they don't really give a shit what the law says. This has been true since the beginning of this government. We don't see any evidence that this will ever change.

Yet, lawsuits aren't all bad. They can sometimes create a little more breathing room within which revolutionaries can operate. Lawsuits can also be used to publicize our struggles, and to show just how callous the state is, if we lose.

Yet, most importantly, lawsuits keep comrades busy. Before any lawsuit, there needs to be a solid analysis of winability, and the likelihood of other options. While we are relatively weak as a movement, lawsuits are a fine option, and building a movement around these lawsuits will give them strength. But if your legal strategy doesn't also include building up collective power to eventually protect people without petitioning the state to do it, then your legal strategy is as useless as a feather in a tornado.

The comrades fighting these battles inside Texas have done a great job of spreading the word to outside organizations to garner support and attention for their lawsuits. We support their efforts to make Texas prisons more bearable for the imprisoned lumpen population, and we support their efforts to link these lawsuits to the greater anti-imperialist movement. And when they decide that lawsuits aren't enough to bring a real change in conditions, we'll support that too.

The U.$. legal system's role is to keep the United $tates government as a dominant world power, no matter what. The extreme heat in Texas prisons isn't just an oversight by administrators. And it's not even just about racism of guards. It is directly connected to the United $tate's role in the oppression and repression of oppressed nations across the world. If the legal system fails, don't give up. Try something else to bring it down. Lawsuits are not the only option.

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[Control Units] [Robertson Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 62]
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Solitary Confinement Ongoing in TX Despite Policy Changes

I would like to ask your staff a question. I recently received ULK 60 and it made a statement that solitary confinement was abolished in Texas in 2017. When I seen that, it floored me. I say that because i'm writing this letter FROM SOLITARY CONFINEMENT. So did I miss something? And if so, how can I fight from here to rectify the situation?

I let others read that and we all was stunned. I mean stunned. Are we reading this statement in your newsletter wrong?

Also we would like to know what is the Texas Pack and how can I obtain one? Your newsletter has shed light on a lot of things that are helpful for us in this place, and I just would like to say thank you and keep up the good work.


MIM(Prisons) responds: In September 2017, TDCJ announced it would no longer use solitary confinement for punishment, or as a method to encourage good behavior. It would "only" use "Administrative Segregation" (totally different from solitary confinement, right?) for "gang members, those at risk of escape, and those who are likely to attack other inmates."(1) That month, 4,000 people were still held in isolation on these grounds. Consider that only 75 prisoners were actually released from solitary confinement after this policy change.

We appreciate that this writer spoke up, because this is a very common practice. The Department says "we're not using it for punishment," while holding many, many people in isolation. The claim of gangs and security threats is often cited as the justification for the "exception" to their superficially-humanitarian publicity stunt.

Some examples include the Tier 2 program in Georgia, and the indefinite solitary confinement in California prisons that led to the hunger strikes in 2011-2013 and the Ashker settlement.

No matter what you call it, or what "justifications" are given for why it's used, solitary confinement is always torture, and never necessary. We have no doubts that solitary confinement can and should be ended, for everyone, today.

As for the Texas Pack, we are still updating and mailing this out. It's one of our more expensive projects, so we're asking for subscribers to send a donation of $2.50, or work-trade, to get the Texas Pack. This packet contains all our campaign info relevant to TDCJ, including on the grievance process, medical copay, and indigent mail restrictions. Send your donation to the address on p. 1, and tell us first if you want to send a check or M.O. so we can send instructions.

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[Abuse] [Ellis Unit] [Texas]
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Bad Water and Cussing Guards

Our water is bad. I'm writing you for help with a problem we have here on the Ellis Unit. I've written the Justice Department and they wrote baack, saying that that forward my complaint to EPA (environmental protection agency). Now those people haven't told me anything. How do i further my complaint? Also we have a problem with officers cussing out the inmates. Grievances don't work on this unit all grievances are answered the same way, the officers lie they way out of every situation. Please let me hear some feedback from you that can help me. These conditions are nearly impossible to live with and need addressing now!

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