Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Texas Prisons

Can you do layout? Help out by laying out pamphlets and study packs to mail to prisoners. help out

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)

Daniel Unit (Snyder)

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)

[Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 63]
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Grievance Battle Sustainability

In January 2018, I was written a case at 9:45pm for creating a disturbance along with six other comrades. The case was read to me at approximately 10:30pm the next day. I had read that they have 24 hours to read you a case after it is written. This was the first in a long list of procedural errors that followed. It did not matter that one elderly lady was heavily medicated after the death of her sister and was asleep on the night in question. It did not matter that we all wrote a statement for her. One lady had an answer to go home, three ladies were waiting to see parole, and I had just requested a special review. We were all found guilty, but not of creating a disturbance. We were all found guilty of a charge they added while we were at court: Disobeying a direct order.

Needless to say I grieved the case, which was a major infraction. I knew the Lt. involved was involved in an alleged beating of another comrade some years ago, so before I sent in my grievance I sent a copy to my mom. Yes! Us women are beaten, raped, sexually harassed and/or assaulted, and placed on chain gang/hoe squads as punishment. I made a carbon copy of the grievance, and my mother sent a copy to the Regional Director's office and the Ombudsmen. Someone from the Regional Director's office visited me to ensure I was not being harassed.

Of course Step 1 was returned claiming "no procedural errors were noted." A blatant lie. I sent in a Step 2 and am awaiting a response. In the wake of these bogus cases one lady’s parole answer was revoked and three others fear the same fate awaits them. I was denied the opportunity to take correspondence courses for a bachelor’s degree. In situations like this I have to remind myself that the worst case I ever caught was the one that put me here. I will not live here in fear.

I do not yet have the TX Pack, but I advise you all to read your rulebook thoroughly, learn your A.D.s (P.D. 22s get kicked back often as unprovable, your word against theirs). A.D.s aren’t so easily denied, and Step 2 EVERYTHING! When necessary Step 3. Also, obtain a list from sub counsel of all the reasons you can successfully appeal a case. Last, keep your nose clean. There are people who tell me they will never write a grievance. They find it insulting when a pig tells them to “grieve it”. “I would NEVER” they say. Then some injustice is done to them and they come to me. I give them a code to go look up. The seed is planted in this way.

Another response I get is “write it for me and I’ll sign it”. Comrades, it seems nearly impossible to gather the troops. However, don’t look at it from that angle. Writing 20 people's grievances is just like doing their homework so they can graduate. They still won’t be able to peep the science nor do the math. When you have 2-3 people who are willing to campaign with you then each of you are known for activism, you’ll have people coming to you. When that time comes, guide them, don’t do their homework. In this way, “less is more, it’s plenty of us”.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is clearly leading by example, and one of the examples ey sets is ey doesn't let small failures upset em: "I will not live here in fear." Success takes sustained effort over a long period of time. COs will discourage us every chance they get. The DOC administration will do everything they can to shut down our protests even when we play by their own rules. This all is part of the battle, to expect it, and keep doing what we're doing in spite of any discouragement. Often our grievances will fail, but that doesn't mean we give up. It just means we need to look at our plan of attack.

The more successful we are, the more people are gonna hate on us. The better we get at filing grievances and lawsuits, the more the state is gonna repress us. Strong comrades like this writer stand up to this repression and continue to demand their rights be respected.

This writer also brings up an important point about leadership. Leaders need to prepare people to do things themselves, how to fight their own battles. The important thing is not filing the grievance itself. The important thing is teaching people how to fight these battles, and helping them build confidence that they can fight back. These lessons will carry over into other parts of their life and political work. We need more leaders to step up and provide this education behind bars. In this issue of ULK there are lots of suggestions for ways to engage people and do organizing work. Find a way that works for you to become a leader in the anti-imperialist movement!

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[Organizing] [Texas] [ULK Issue 63]
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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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[Abuse] [Michael Unit] [Texas]
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Exposing Texas prison violations

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newspaper clip

I'm writing on behalf of my brothers here at the Mark W. Michael Unit. And respectfully request ULK to please convey our cause for unification throughout Texas prison systems. After a review of the May/June issue number 62 Under Lock & Key, I was very inclined to write this letter. Yes it appears that someone has woken up here in the Texas prison system. The old plantation where Texas prison officials is again up to these old tricks. Units are understaffed and overcrowded, being deprived of sleep, extreme heat, poor ventilation, dayroom overcrowded, and not enough available seats, for the offenders assigned to double cells. Here on the Michael Plantation we have so many offenders that we have a lot being housed in high security, and classified as overflow mis-housing offenders assigned to 11 building overflow, transit and mis-housing. And 12 building ad seg A/B pod as well.

So it's apparent and very clear that Texas prison system once again should be placed up under federal control, due to overcrowding and under staff, delayed medical care, and inadequate medical care, unsanitary living conditions, excessive use of force violation by staff, an enormous amount of suicide throughout Texas prisons. Offenders in high security being deprived of basic human needs, food, not receiving showers daily, due to inadequate staff. The Unit being infested with roaches, unsanitary conditions in the offender chowhall. And them not providing a wholesome and nutritious meal. Black mold in the showers, due to there not being cleaned, and prisoners breaking out with rashes due to exposure to such.

These are not just an Eastham problem, it's a statewide problem. And we urge that the taxpayers, as well as Texas prisoners on these plantations to become more involved, and let our legislature members to investigate these allegations and hold these prison officials accountable as well as the ACA. We need to let our voice be heard, and quit remaining silent about the things that effect us and the environment we live in. We will be forwarding legal documents to the federal district court, for the Eastern district of Texas at Tyler.

It's been a long time coming. Texas prison that the men for their effort to slay the devil and his advocates, and it's time that we do the right thing and bring this to the public attention of what's really going on behind prison walls. I remain committed as a voice for the incarcerated men and women of Texas prisons.

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[Abuse] [Texas]
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Harassment for PREA Complaint

I came across your Under Lock & Key through a friend and I do enjoy it. I had read an article of a guy who reported a sexual assault abuse from a staff member. I myself went through a situation that the outcome has been the same here in a Texas prison.

I went to the PREA Ombudsman, and I filed a complaint. The result was I had made the whole thing up. I don't know how staff abuse in prisons anywhere is allowed. If you follow the policy in place, the inmates are always in the wrong, and that's in any prison. Because we are in prison all we are supposed to be is liars and criminals.

I myself use my time to try to learn to do better so I will not fall into the circle of coming back like so many do. All I can say to all is if you report any type of abuse, be careful because the system is made to make you wrong no matter what you do. My life has been threatened. I have been refused medical help when I try to get it, or any type of help. It seems like the more me and my family try to push the issue with the proper authorities, the worse the harassment gets. Well I just wanted to share my thoughts and say thanks for all you do. May the struggle end soon.

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[Campaigns] [Allred Unit] [Texas]
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Illegal Retaliatory Cell Search

I am a indigent comrade from Texas and I do all I can to help the cause and struggle against the administration. I recently received the state-level grievance petition and mailed it to the Executive Director. Not even 10 days later my cell was searched for no apparent reason. BUT I noticed my legal mail was gone thru without a written I.O.C. from the Warden. Just a lil update.

Now I am in Ad-Seg and unable to get or make copies of the petitions. So I'm writing to request 5 copies of the state petition and also 5 copies of the new follow-up petition written to Federal law. Thank you for all help.

I'm doing all I can to help organize people at the James Allred Unit down here in Texas. But a lot of people only care bout their selves. But I have 85 years to do and I'm down for the cause to help abolish slavery and prisons. I will keep y'all updated if I receive any update on the petition I sent out.

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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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[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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[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] [Robertson Unit] [Texas]
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Guards Ignore Rules, Lie with Authority

Would you please send anything you have on the rules the guards must follow? Because they make up the rules as they go, with no regard for what policies states in our (GR-106) or (I-202) handbooks. I was told to take my rule books back to my cell, or get locked up today, after telling and showing CO and Ranking COs Hallway and Chow Hall Rules. I was told that policies don't matter; it's what they say. Yes, I'm writing this up, no need for audio on the cameras, just watch their actions.

I'm asking for tools to work with, because the law library doesn't have what I'm asking for (well that's what I'm told). I'm in there everyday it's open. I'm not allowed no more than 30 min of extra time a day, because of the number of people I'm helping or those helping me. Plus we have to pack our legal work up, and take it with us, every time we have to use the restroom.

When I write said grievances, without prejudice is what I ask and please that my complaint be truthfully and thoroughly investigated as per AD-03.82, due to me being under duress about said issue. Designees/employees are only observing the proper procedure, without honestly giving effort to ensure fair and unbiased treatment towards inmates. Also their actions of collusion by being conclusive, they also have/has malicious intent and their actions are negligent to their legal responsibility and liability, namely TX Gov Code Section 493.001 Department Mission. Their callous disregard to complaints, etc, that I and my family has copies of, that's been filed. This is not providing public safety, or promoting positive change in offenders behavior, or reintegrating offenders into society, or assisting victims of crime.

The question is what does the officers actions show? Yes, they know policies, etc, but do they follow them? Officers lie with authority. Please help in any way you can.

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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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