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.

[Organizing] [McConnell Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 60]
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Using Texas Pack to Help Others

24 OCTOBER 2016 — I have received y'all's latest newsletter. I love reading the ULK newsletters. Always very informational. Which has helped me a lot!

Here at the McConnell Unit in Belville, Texas, it is very, very, hard to get prisoners involved in such issues as 1) Campaign to resist restrictions on indigent correspondence; 2) Petition the Federal Trade Commission: TDCJ's monopoly on stationary; 3) We demand our grievances are addressed in Texas, etc, etc.

I've shared the Texas Pack with several prisoners and some just say that they are not interested. As long as they let prisoners here watch TV, go to the commissary, use the phone, play dominoes, chess, and scrabble, people don't care. It's all they care about, which in reality is very sad. Because these are issues that affect us all as a whole group. And in some cases violate our civil and constitutional rights.

The Texas Pack has given me very helpful information for not only my own benefit but to help other prisoners who ask for help, and especially those that are monolingual and don't know how to file a grievance, etc. The information that y'all supply me has not only helped me but for me to help others, which I do almost on a daily basis. Thank y'all very much!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This author is using the Texas Pack exactly as it's intended — not to be hoarded as a persynal reference, but to be shared with others so we can all benefit. Ey also brings up an all-too-frequent complaint about prisoners in Texas: that they are checked out and unwilling to stand up for their rights or the rights of others. What is the difference between this writer, and the people ey is saying only care about board games and TV? Obviously there are activists in TDCJ facilities. How are they made?

Even people who seem to only care about board games and TV, we know they're not just lazy or don't care. It is likely a defense mechanism they've developed over time. If i only care about TV, i can have some happiness even though i'm in prison. If i only care about TV, i can for the most part avoid attention from prison staff. If i only care about TV, i can access something i want; i can escape from my reality for a short time; etc.

It's unlikely, though, that these folks only care about TV, even though that's what they're projecting. Presenting the grievance petition to them, while it's a righteous campaign, often just makes people defensive. They're defensive because they need to protect this narrative that they've created about their "values," often times in order to just get through the day, and cope with their harsh reality.

Certainly with some people we can present a valid campaign, they'll recognize it as a valid campaign, and they'll come on board. But people who are defensive or prone to stagnation need a different approach.

A good place to start in trying to organize these folks is to figure out what they do care about, besides TV. They may not want to talk about it, it may be sad and upsetting to care about things you can't have (such as affection with your children while you're in prison, for example). But we can still try to help them figure it out. Help them develop their identity around their own value system, rather than the value system put upon them by bourgeois society and imprisonment.

How do they want to be seen by the world, their family, their peers? What do they want to stand for? What have they done in the past that they felt good about, that represents how they see themselves? When we know answers to these questions, we can help show how their values actually relate to the campaigns outlined in the Texas Pack and the pages of ULK.

Issue 63 of ULK is going to be focused on this topic of tactical organizing approaches, and the nitty gritty of building the United Front for Peace in Prisons. We want our subscribers to send in methodology and tools which have helped them in their organizing efforts. Even if it doesn't have a formal name, can you spell out your approach for dealing with ambivalence, or ignorance, or even a disorganized study group meeting? We want to hear about it and share it with others!

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[Hunger Strike] [Allred Unit] [Texas]
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Hunger Strike at Allred Ad-Seg to Fight Inhumane Conditions

Revolutionary Greetings Comrades!

22 January 2018 - There is a hunger strike going on right now at the Allred Ad-Seg Unit, which is located in Iowa Park, Texas. A lot of prisoners are on hunger strike in protest of the cruel and inhumane conditions which have been allowed to be visited upon the prisoners in the Ad-Seg Unit. The key issues are:

  1. Lack of opportunities to go to outside recreation.
  2. Cold food being served every meal at the Ad-Seg/High Security Unit.

There are a lot of similar problems here at Eastham Ad-Seg and some of the common denominators which allow these problems to continue are:

  1. Serious Shortages of Staff all over TDCJ
  2. Lack of funds to make repairs on anything
  3. Deliberate Indifference and Abuse by uncaring Staff at Allred!
The 85th Texas Legislature which convened in 2017 approved a massive multi-million dollar cut to the budget of the Texas Department of Criminal INJustice. I believe the amount was close to $212 million. There have been numerous unintended consequences as a result of these cutbacks — staff shortages is just one. We have also seen an inordinate amount of prisoner deaths as a result of subpar medical care given by employees of the University of Texas Medical Branch whose headquarters is in Galveston, Texas.

One issue that I'd like to bring to your attention is that prisoners who are housed in Ad-Seg (all over Ad-Seg, but especially at the Allred Unit) are more vulnerable to abuse by TDCJ prison employees because they are more isolated from the general public, the media and their FAMILIES!! Hunger Striking is the last ditch effort to have their grievances heard. This is a cry for HELP! We cannot ignore them.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The Texas grievance process is abysmal, and in most (if not all) facilities, the instructions on how to use the grievance process are not even made available to prisoners. We saw no other choice but to compile this material and distribute it ourselves. So when this correspondent says "hunger striking is the last ditch effort," we can attest to the lack of progress using official channels. Eventually it gets to a point where humyns can't take the abuse and neglect anymore, and the prison admin is only frustrating their attempts to go the "proper" route. Hunger striking is one of the only forms of protest left. We are trying to work toward a society where people don't need to starve themselves to be allowed outdoors, and asserting ourselves, such as in this hunger strike, is one step toward that new society.

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[Censorship] [State Correctional Institution Camp Hill] [Bill Clements Unit] [Santa Rosa Correctional Institution] [Florida State Prison] [Jefferson Correctional Institution] [Coyote Ridge Corrections Center] [Richard A Handlon Correctional Facility] [Stateville Correctional Center] [Virginia] [Pennsylvania] [Texas] [Florida] [Washington] [Missouri] [Michigan] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 59]
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Censors in Their Own Words - November 2017

U.$. imperialist leaders and their labor aristocracy supporters like to criticize other countries for their tight control of the media and other avenues of speech. For instance, many have heard the myths about communist China forcing everyone to think and speak alike. In reality, these stories are a form of censorship of the truth in the United $tates. In China under Mao the government encouraged people to put up posters debating every aspect of political life, to criticize their leaders, and to engage in debate at work and at home. This was an important part of the Cultural Revolution in China. There are a number of books available in this country that give a truthful account, but far more money is put into anti-communist propaganda books. Here in the United $tates free speech is reserved for those with money and power.

In prisons in particular we see so much censorship, especially targeting those who are politically conscious and fighting for their rights. Fighting for our First Amendment right to free speech is a battle that MIM(Prisons) and many prisoners waste a lot of time and money on. For us this is perhaps the most fundamental of requirements for our organizing work. There are prisoners, and some entire prisons (and sometimes entire states) that are denied all mail from MIM(Prisons). This means we can't send in educational material, or study courses, or even supply a guide to fighting censorship. Many prisons regularly censor ULK claiming that the news and information printed within is a "threat to security." For them, printing the truth about what goes on behind bars is dangerous. But if we had the resources to take these cases to court we believe we could win in many cases.

Denying prisoners mail is condemning some people to no contact with the outside world. To highlight this, and the ridiculous and illegal reasons that prisons use to justify this censorship, we will periodically print a summary of some recent censorship incidents in ULK.

We hope that lawyers, paralegals, and those with some legal knowledge will be inspired to get involved and help us with these censorship battles, both behind bars and on the streets. For the full list of censorship incidents, along with copies of appeals and letters from the prison, check out our censorship reporting webpage.

Virginia DOC

The Chair of the publications review committee for the VA DOC, Melissa Welch, sent MIM(Prisons) a letter denying ULK 56, and then the next month the same letter denying ULK 57. Both letters cite the same reasons:

"D. Material, documents, or photographs that emphasize depictions or promotions of violence, disorder, insurrection, terrorist, or criminal activity in violation of state or federal laws or the violation of the Offender Disciplinary Procedure.

"F. Material that depicts, describes, or promotes gang bylaws, initiations, organizational structure, codes, or other gang-related activity or association."

Pennsylvania DOC

Last issue of ULK we reported on the censorship of ULK57 in Pennsylvania. After sending a protest letter to appeal the decision we had a rare victory! From the Policy Office, PA Department of Corrections:
"This is to notify you that the publication in issue does not violate Department Policy. As such, the decision of the correctional institution is reversed and the inmates in the PA Department of Corrections will be permitted to receive the publication. The correctional institutions will be notified by the Policy Office of the decision."

If anyone in PA hasn't received ULK 57 yet, let us know and we will send another copy to you.

Pennsylvania SCI-Camp Hill

From a prisoner we were forwarded a notice of incoming publication denial for ULK 57: "create a danger within the context of the correctional facility" p.21, 24

The description quotes sentences that can't be found within ULK including: "PREA system strip searches for harassment in PA", "Black prisoners deserve to retaliate against predominantly white ran system", and "This is a excellent reminder of PA importance of fighting." They are making up text as reasons for censorship in Pennsylvania.

Texas - Bill Clemens Unit

A prisoner forwarded us a denial for ULK 57 "Page 11 contains information that could cause a prison disruption."

In March 2017, our study pack Defend the Legacy of the Black Panther Party was censored for

"Reason C. Page 9 contains information that could cause a strike or prison disruption."
This adds to the growing list of our most important literature that is banned in the state forever, including Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletariat and [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlan. We need someone with legal expertise to challenge Texas's policies that allow for publications to be banned forever in the state.

Florida - Santa Rosa Correctional Institution

A prisoner forwarded us a notice of impoundment of ULK 57. The reason cited: "Pages 1, 11, 14, 15, & 17 advocates insurgency and disruption of institutional operations."

We appealed this denial and got a response from Dean Peterson, Library Services Administrator for the Florida DOC, reiterating the reasons for impoundment and upholding the denial: "In their regularly scheduled meeting of August 30, 2017 the Literature Review Committee of the Florida Department of Corrections upheld the institution's impoundment and rejected the publication for the grounds stated. This means that issue will not be allowed into our correctional institutions."

Florida DOC

Following up on a case printed in ULK 57 regarding Florida's denial of the MIM(Prisons) censorship pack, for no specific reasons. We received a response to our appeal of this case from the same Dean Peterson, Library Services Administrator, named above.

"From the number of the FDC form you reference and your description of what happened it is apparent the institutional mailroom did not handle the Censorship Guide as a publication, but instead handled it in accordance with the Florida Administrative Code rule for routine mail. As such, the item was not impounded, was not posted to the list of impounded publications for any other institution to see, was not referred to the Literature Review Committee for review, and thus does not appear on the list of rejected publications. That means that if the exact same Guide came to any other inmate mailroom staff would look at it afresh. In theory, it could even be allowed into the institution. ... "The Florida Administrative Code makes no provision for further review."

Florida - Florida State Prison

ULK 58 was rejected for what appears to just be a list of titles of articles, some not even complete:

PGS 6 Liberation schools to organize through the wall (talk about the hunger strikes)
PGS 8 DPRK; White Supremacy's Global Agenda
PGS 11 Case law to help those facing
PGS 19 White and gaining consciousness

Florida - Jefferson Correctional Institution

Meditations on Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings by James Yaki Sayles was denied to a prisoner at Jefferson Correctional Institution because "inmate has received a second copy of the same edition of this publication violating chapter 33-501.401 (16)(b) and procedure 501.401(7)(d)."

Washington state - Coyote Ridge CC

The invitation to and first assignment for our correspondence introductory study group was rejected by Mailroom Employee April Long for the following reasons:

"Advocates violence against others and/or the overthrow of authority.
Advocates that a protected class or group of individuals is inferior and/or makes such class/group the object of ridicule and/or scorn, and may reasonably be thought to precipitate a violent confrontation between the recipient and a member(s) of the target group. Rejected incoming mailing from MIM. Mailing contains working that appears to be referring to law enforcement as 'pigs' it appears to be ridiculing and scornful. There is also a section in mailing labeled solutions that calls prisoners to take actions against prison industries and gives specific ideas/suggestions. Nothing to forward onto offender."

A recent study assignment for the University of Maoist Thought was also censored at Coyote Ridge. MIM(Prisons) has not yet been informed of this censorship incident by the facility. The study group participant wrote and told us it was censored for being a "copy of copyrighted material." The material in question was published in 1972 in the People's Republic of China. Not only did that government actively work against capitalist concepts such as copyright, we believe that even by the United $tates' own standards this book should not be subject to censorship.

Washington state

Clallam Bay CF rejected ULK 58 because: "Newsletter is being rejected as it talks about September 9 events including offenders commencing a hunger strike until equal treatment, retaliation and legal rights issues are resolved."

Coyote Ridge CC rejected ULK 58 for a different set of reasons: "Contains plans for activity that violates state/federal law, the Washington Administrative Code, Department policy and/or local facet/rules. Contains correspondence, information, or other items relating to another offender(s) without prior approval from the Superintendent/designee: or attempts or conveys unauthorized offender to offender correspondence."

Canada

We received the following report from a Canadian prisoner who had sent us some stamps to pay for a few issues of ULK to be mailed to Canada.

"A few months ago, on July 18, I received notice from the V&C department informing that five issues of ULK had arrived here for me. The notice also explained that the issues had been seized because of a Commissioner's Directive (764.6) which states that '[t]he institutional head may prohibit entry into the institution of material that portrays excessive violence and aggression, or prison violence; or if he or she believes on reasonable grounds that the material would incite inmates to commit similar acts.' I grieved the seizure, among other things, citing the sections on page 2 of ULK, which 'explicitly discourage[s prisoners] from engaging in any violence or illegal acts,' and citing too the UFPP statement of peace on page 3, which speaks of the organizational aim to end needless conflicts and violence within prisons.

"Well, I can now report that my grievance was upheld and that all copies of ULK were released to me, but not without the censorship of drawings deemed to portray or promote the kind of violence described in the above-cited Commissioner's Directive. It's a decision I can live with for now."

Missouri

We got reports from two people that the blanket ban on ULK in Missouri was removed and ULK 58 was received. If you're in Missouri and still not getting your ULK, be sure to let us know.

Michigan - Richard A Handlon CF

ULK 58 was rejected because "Articles in Under Lock & Key contains information about criminal activity that might entice criminal activity within the prison facility - threat to security."

Illinois - Stateville CC

ULK 58 was rejected because: "The publication appears to: Advocate or encourage violence, hatred, or group disruption or it poses an intolerable risk of violence or disruption. Be otherwise detrimental to security, good order, rehabilitation, or discipline or it might facilitate criminal activity or be detrimental to mental health. Detrimental to safety and security of the facility. Disrupts order. Promotes organization and leadership."


Read More Censorship Reports
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[Abuse] [Coffield Unit] [Texas]
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You Can Break The Man But You Can't Break The Man's Spirit

At the end of March 2016, an incident took place on the Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony Texas that paralyzed an unarmed inmate from the neck down. The use of extreme force is beyond this measurement as this inmate was already locked in a cage, secluded from population and apparently no threat to anybody or himself. As I relive this harsh reality please bear with me because of the circumstances of imprisonment I don't have all the names or dates as I relate this sad but true story.

A prisoner was ordered by a correctional officer to turn around, bend over on his knees, and put his forehead on the ground. He replied "no... I only put my forehead on the ground for Allah. Please just take me to my lock up cell." (It is against our beliefs as Muslims to prostrate our heads on the ground to anyone but God.) The officer then said "if you give me what I want then I will give you what you want" and then smirked as he said it. This interaction was cut short as higher rank officials came and he was now just told to turn around so they could handcuff and escort him to a temporary holding cage and he complied and was put in what we call the "Legal cage." Mind you, all this is visually on camera and all has been recorded except audio.

Now this same officer from earlier was assigned to escort him to his lock up cell and upon this action he followed up with the same orders as to, "Turn around bend over on his knees and put his forehead on the ground." He replied again "No, I only put my forehead on the ground for Allah (SWT)!!!" The officer then said "Are you refusing to obey an order and not in compliance so I can properly escort you? Like I said give me what I want and I'll give you what you want." Upon hearing this he realized this was more of a sexual gesture and became hostile toward this officer for his remark and yelled "No, I only bow my forehead on the ground for Allah (SWT)!!! Just put me in handcuffs and take me to my lockup cell."

The officer then took his mace out (or what we in here call gas) and began emptying his whole can of mace into my friend's face until his can was completely empty. He began screaming and saying "Why did you spray me?" The officer then called in a use of force on his walkie talkie. Another and bigger can of mace was then brought and they began spraying him again directly in his face.

As this was taking place the assistant warden named "Cooper" happened to walk up and my friend began his plea "Warden Cooper this man wants me to bend over, put my forehead on the ground just so he can handcuff me. I told him that I will let him put the handcuffs on me and escort me to any cell but me putting my forehead on the ground and bending over is beyond extreme. Please Warden Cooper can you help I'm burning and covered in mace." The warden then turned to the officer and said, "keep up the good work, you're doing a good job." Then Warden Cooper abruptly walked off. The guard then began his rant "See I'm god back here as you can see the Warden just gave me the go ahead. So do as I say."

Just as this officer finished his threats a team of officers arrived suited in extract gear and a use of force camera on. The officer with the camera on told him "you are not in compliance for us to properly escort you therefore a use of force is needed so what is your statement?" He said, "I'm not refusing, just put the handcuffs on me and take me to my cell." The officer said, "is that your statement?" He did not respond. The correctional officers then opened up the door, grabbed and picked him up over their heads and slammed him straight on his head. Mind you he's a small guy at 5'9" and 150lbs. He went limp and they then hogtied him and handcuffed him as the officers dragged him into the Infirmary.

To my friend's recollection, once in the infirmary he heard the nurse say, "we're going to have to send him to UMTB Hospital" right before he passed out. Three (3) days later he awoke in a CAT scan machine and all he could hear was the noise from the CAT scan machine. Once the CAT scan was over he was slid out and then told the nurse "Ma'am can you please take these straps off me so I can get up and walk." The nurse looked at him and said, "Baby there ain't no straps on you, you are paralyzed from the neck down."

Upon hearing this he shed tears relentlessly like never before. He recalls laying in the bed and a fly would land on his forehead and he couldn't even swat it away. The agony of laying in a prison hospital (as they eventually transferred me to one) and not having proper assistance because of the low regard for us as inmates was unbearable, but something he had no choice to bear. Not being able to feed himself, bathe himself or at the very least use the bathroom himself as he had to wait hours on end for prison hospital staff to change his diapers.

One day he was laying there and out of God's good Grace a Muslim (a Muslim woman) walked in and she said "I was making Salat and Allah (SWT) told me while in Salat that there is a Muslim in this hospital that needs a Qu'ran." Hope was conceived on the day. The doctors gave my friend an option, if he did the surgery then there was a chance he might walk again but if he didn't go through with the surgery then he would never walk again. As Muslims it is upon our belief that we only bow to Allah (SWT) so he chose not to go through with the surgery. Six (6) months later when me and my brother crossed paths again he was being wheeled in a wheel chair to Jumu'ah and I began to call him. As we were in each other's presence we began to cry, and he said "I never thought I would be able to make Salat again," and then gave all his might as he struggled to stand and hugged me as we continued to shed unconditional tears. He said "I just learned how to walk again two (2) weeks ago. This morning I woke up in tears from the cramps I felt all over my body and it being so cold. I didn't know if I would make it to Jumu'ah but Allah (SWT) is Akbar." (God is the Greatest).

I was on medical chain to the prison my brother was at and only there from Thursday to Monday. So if he hadn't went to Jumu'ah then we would have never crossed paths. I also seen that the officers broke both of his wrists from when they slammed him on his forehead. My brother can't even wheel himself around because his wrist and motor skills or let alone put his gloves on himself. He now also has to wear glasses because his eyes are too sensitive to the light from the overuse of mace as they burned a layer of his eyes away, in fact on the day he seen me he slowly took his glasses off and sacrificed to endure the pain as he squinted and said, "I want to look at you." They also damaged his memory and he still couldn't control his bowel movements. Through all this he never received a disciplinary infraction because in the end they the quote-unquote correctional officers knew who was wrong. The magnitude of this wrongdoing is that the NAACP Southern Division appointed a lawyer to my brother's case. This sad case shouldn't go unheard to prevent this kind of stuff from ever happening to anybody else.

In physical reality, a man is broken but in spiritual reality his faith never wavered as my brother gave up his physical for what he believed in spiritual. In greatness that belief didn't change on the day of the incident and even in a wheelchair it still hasn't changed now as I write these very words. The moral to this sad but true story is, he is still Muslim and he never stopped praying or gave up his Salats (prayers) as he was paralyzed in a hospital bed and his faith actually became stronger through this trial and tribulation as he said to me when I seen him again "Don't give up Islam."

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[Abuse] [Wynne Unit] [Texas]
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Punished for false cases at Wynne

Here at Wynne they put everyone in the day room for chow maybe 20 mins could be 2 hrs now said this they will start saying "sit down" but nowhere to sit walls are full seats are full now you just got a case for standing in the day room. We write grievances 1 and 2 but it always comes back "we talk to officer and they said we don't stage the day room." Funny every day they do it rank just cusses you out and you get that false case. Now here at the Wynne Unit we are no longer give soap, toothpaste, combs, or anything to clean your cells, you get one green bar of soap at showers and can not bring it back to your block.

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[Abuse] [Michael Unit] [Texas]
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Retaliation for legal work in Texas

I am writing to let you know that I am contributing to the struggle that prisoners face by filing lawsuits and changing policies.

Every day here in Ad Seg I face retaliation from the guards because of the legal work that I am doing. The guards do everything that they can to try to stop people from filing lawsuits. They throw our mail away when it comes in and when we send it out. There is this culture that they follow and live by and it's all about keeping prison systems under their control and they want nothing but bad things for prisoners. If they could give us bad food every day and beat us when they want to they would be happy. The living conditions here in Ad Seg are not too good but they're not the worst possible living conditions. The main thing that I am doing right now to organize against this struggle is to help people do legal work and tell them how to file lawsuits.

I am working with some anarchists to write a book that will tell people how to file a section 1983 lawsuit. This will be later on but when I finish it I will send you a copy so that you can distribute it.

The medical system as a whole is not good. We are not getting the medical care that we need. We can have an obvious and serious medical need and the doctors tell us that nothing is wrong with us. The blood work gets switched out and the paperwork gets switched out. So, we can have a serious problem but they switch out the blood- and paperwork so it shows that nothing is wrong with us. Also the x-rays get switched out all of the time. We can have broken bones and the x-rays will show that there are no broken bones. All of the doctors, nurses and the correctional officers are in this together. They cover up crimes and keep the medical system the way that it is, and when we try to fix it by writing grievances and filing lawsuits, they retaliate.

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[Abuse] [McConnell Unit] [Texas]
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Contaminated water and other dangerous conditions at McConnell

Here, on the McConnell unit there are so many issues that we are dealing with and attempting to gain a collective response to that it has taken up the majority of our time. First, on Thursday August 4, 2017, there was a water contamination notice posted, which consisted of not consuming the water, at all (i.e. showers, drinking, washing face, brushing teeth etc.) until further notice. The boil notice stated that the only way the water could be consumed was if it was boiled (i.e. a rolling boil) for at least two minutes. However, the problem with this stipulation is the fact that the ONLY way we can boil water is if we 'rig' our hot pots, which is a violation of TDCJ policy. This makes us vulnerable to our appliances being confiscated even though we have been given permission to boil the water.

This also brings about the fact that if we don't boil the water before we drink it, shower in it, and brush our teeth with it, then we are being made susceptible to CRYTOS, which is a parasitic germ that is known to cause cancer and other organ failures. This has been advertised on every news station around this area, yet we are still being made to drink it or dehydrate!! We are supposed to be provided with ice-water three times a day during summer months, yet because of the water shortage we are often just given tap water.

The administration is so accustomed to doing whatever they want that our complaints go in one ear and out the other. We have waged a grievance petition attacking our overall conditions here on this unit and we will see how many are willing to stand up for their rights or lay down and be trampled over.

This is only one of several issues with the conditions here on the McConnell unit... There is mold that has set in the walls and has begun to make prisoners have breathing conditions such as dry coughs and lack of breath.

When it rains here, all of the cells are flooded with rainwater. Our bunks are soaked and the floors are covered with water.

I would like to learn and be a part of the United Struggle from Within, because I believe that many of the prisoners here have the propensity to make a difference if only they were shown the way. Most think that there is no hope in doing anything when 'they are going to still just do what they want'. But I KNOW better and am familiar with the results of a unified effort!! I am committed to working with MIM (Prisons) to expand our influence and organizing in here as well as out in the communities we will one day return to.

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[Medical Care] [Estelle 2] [Texas] [ULK Issue 59]
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Epidemic of K2 Overdoses at Estelle, Throughout Texas

popular drugs by state

6 September 2017 — I am writing this letter to inform you of the recent adverse reactions of offenders to a new batch of a K2-styled substance. About a month ago a new batch of "2uece", "K2" or "tune" arrived on the unit. I was in the prison chapel and overheard a conversation that 9 people that day had been taken away in an ambulance. A few days later I saw 2 people fall out at work in the kitchen after smoking it. The user will experience temporary paralysis, unable to move or even speak. Users will watch their "friends" pass out, then laugh at their friends and continue smoking the same K2. Another prisoner bragged to me of his smoking prowess. He said, "I already had 3 people who smoked this shit with me get stuck. They think they can smoke like me." Later that day after having that conversation, that offender collapsed, unconscious and was rushed to medical. He may have died for all I know.

Then the next day as I was leaving the shower area, they shut down the hallway for an emergency and they were carrying 2 paralyzed prisoners to sickbay (medical). I personally have seen more than 20 people carried away in stretchers this past month. I would estimate well over a hundred people have been transported to the hospital due to this new K2. I further estimate 1/2 the entire unit are users. About 80% of the people I work with smoke. Unlike other products such as ice cream, that might get contaminated with listeria and recalled, with this so-called "2uece" there is no recall. People will continue to sell it and smoke it, and there will be more adverse reactions. Shame on the local media for not reporting this! Shame on TDCJ for not locking down the prison, instead being more concerned with the Estelle Unit textile plant profits!


MIM(Prisons) responds: In our survey of ULK readers about drugs in prison, K2 (Deuce, 2euce, Spice, or synthetic marijuana) stood out as the most popular drug. While in the chart below, other drugs aren't too far behind in number of mentions, K2 was often highlighted as the #1 choice, with one Texas prisoner stating that everything else there is now irrelevant. Suboxone was the other one that really stood out, because it was less familiar and being reported a lot. Suboxone is actually used to treat drug addiction to opioids, but has more recently proven to be addictive itself even though it does not have the same effects on your body that opioids do.

3D"popular
# respondents who listed each drug as one of the most in demand. Data from 62 respondents from 17 states.

The states of California, Nevada, Colorado and Georgia differed from the rest of the states in not really mentioning K2 or Suboxone. Instead in those states the combination of crystal meth (ice, sk8), heroin and alcohol were popular.

Many of these drugs are a serious health risk, and we address opioids in a separate article. However, K2 seems to deserve special attention right now due to the prevalence and risk. The risk is partially due to the variability in what you are getting when you purchase "K2", as the comrade alludes to above. While it is referred to as "synthetic weed" because of the receptors in the brain that it acts on, it is very different from weed with very different effects. In the prisons where it was reported as easiest to get, our respondents reported death from drugs at their prison 50% of the time. In contrast, the prisons where K2 was not listed among drugs easiest to get death was only reported 19% of the time. This difference was statistically significant. While this correlation does not establish a definitive link with K2 as the cause of excess deaths, anecdotal responses like the reports above and below seem to indicate that is the case. In the last two years, news stories about group overdoses from bad batches of spice have become frequent. Our correspondents talk about people being "stuck" when they are on K2. This drug can be completely disabling and can lead directly to death.

The K2 epidemic is not limited to Estelle Unit, but is across the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) system, where our respondents consistently listed it as the most common drug. As the map above shows, the problem extends to many other states.

A comrade in Larry Gist Unit in Texas reported on 14 September 2017:

"I want to file a lawsuit against the Sr. Warden and American Correctional Association (ACA) who pass the Unit Larry Gist inspection because the speaker communication do not work and about 7 to 10 prisoners died smoking K2 from heart attack and other sickness. Speaker communication is very important and maybe if the speaker communication had been working 1, 2 or 3 of the prisoners that died could have been saved."

A comrade at Telford Unit in Texas reported on 23 August 2017:

"My brothers in here have fallen victim to K2, which is highly addictive. They don't even care about the struggle. The only thing on their minds is getting high and that sas. I mean this K2 shit is like crack but worse. You have guys selling all their commissary, radios, fans, etc. just to get high. And all these pigs do is sit back and watch; this shit is crazy. But for the few of us who are K2-free I'm trying to get together a group to help me with the struggle."

We had a number of surveys filled out in Texas, all of which put the majority, if not all of the blame for the drugs entering the TDCJ on staff. Prisoners are a vulnerable population due to the degree of control that the state has over their lives. The injustice system leads to a disproportionate number of people in prison with substance abuse histories. It is completely irresponsible and tragic that people are then put in conditions where there is an epidemic of dangerous, unregulated drugs when they enter prison.

Under a socialist society, where we have a system of dictatorship of the proletariat, with those in power acting in the interests of the formerly oppressed peoples, individuals responsible for mass deaths through negligence or intentional actions will be brought to justice. Prison administrators who help bring in drugs known to kill people need to face the judgment of the people. These deaths are easily prevented.

In the meantime, we commend the comrades at Telford Unit who are starting to organize support for people to stay out of this epidemic that is affecting so many Texas prisoners. It is only by building independent institutions of the oppressed, which serve the people, that we can overcome this plague.

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[Abuse] [Texas] [ULK Issue 60]
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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!

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[Medical Care] [Texas]
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Texas stealing prisoner's money for free medical services

On Sept 23, 2017, I was transported to a local hospital by EMS, concerning chest pains. I spent several hours in ER before being returned to my unit, the Boyd Unit.

On Sept 26, 2017, I saw our PA (provider) concerning my trip to ER. Again on Sept 27, 2017 I saw another provider concerning same trip to ER.

On Oct 2, 2017, I became aware that my inmate trust account was assessed $100 co-pay and $22.46 removed. Half of my current balance.

This is, as you know, in violation of Gov. Code 501.063 and TDCJ's administrative directive AD-06.08, stating that an inmate will not be charged for emergencies or follow-ups. The two visits to PA were indeed follow-ups to the emergency.

I have filed Step 1 grievance, and regardless of outcome will file Step 2. Someone needs to take notice of how this is happening. I have also wrote to the US Dept of Justice.

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