Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Texas Prisons

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out 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.

[Education] [Drugs] [Civil Liberties] [Texas]

Study Group's Long Struggle; Face Drugs and Censorship

Revolutionary Greetings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Legal] [Grievance Process] [Abuse] [COVID-19] [Civil Liberties] [Huntsville] [Texas]

TDCJ Exceeding Loss of Privileges Rule, Safety Violations and COVID-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is Hardhead signing off until next time.

[COVID-19] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas]

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


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

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

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

In struggle.

[Deaths in Custody] [COVID-19] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]

Death at Bill Clements Unit

Hello MIM (Prisons):

Will you please send me a free subscription/subscriptions?

I would also like to bring to your attention that it took 3 days for the guards to find out that an inmate had died in A5 closed custody on the Bill Clements unit in Amarillo, TX. The cause of death is unknown to many of us inmates with this quarantine COVID-19 pandemic crisis lock down in effect. We inmates on the Bill Clements unit in Amarillo, TX would like to know if the inmate that died was because of violence or because of the Corona COVID-19 virus. Will you please investigate so us inmates on the Bill Clements unit in Amarillo, TX will have answers please.

Thank you.

MIM(Prisons) responds: As of 26 June 2020, the TDCJ reports at least 79 prisoner deaths and eight staff due to COVID-19. While no prisoners were reported dying from COVID-19 at Clements unit prior to 21 April 2020, the date of your letter, one staff member from Clements did die that day. Since then, a few prisoners from Clements have died as well after being sent out to hospital.

[Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]

Civil Rights Advocacy

My area of concern is Prisoners’ Civil Rights. I see all types of harassment! “Under color of state law” type issues are an ongoing problem in Texas prisons. But the thing that hurts me the most is inmates losing their line-class, custody level, and parole eligibility over a disciplinary report that consists of only one or two sentences.

Officers filing such reports are to give the full details underlying the facts of the whole situation. So this lack of detail leaves the door open for the officer to say anything they want at the hearing. It’s like they just hurry up and do a rush job on writing a case, then just make up the rest when the Disciplinary Hearing Officer calls the Charging Officer.

It’s wild! 95% of what the Charging Officer says is not mentioned in the report. So much for truth, accuracy and completeness of material information, right? The omission of detail – once the officer signs and dates anything – is falsification of records. And it’s like nobody sees it or even cares. Blows my mind! And these are the people the government hires to supposedly turn us back into society as rehabilitated.

I want people in prison to know their rights and use them. My group, called “Class Act” helps prisoners who are victims of harassment and mistreatment.

Write your grievances and allow 48 hours for them to be screened. Then, send a Request to the Unit Grievance Investigator asking for the case number and the investigator’s ID number. Keep your complaint alive. Request the status of your complaint. Let them know your complaint wont be swept under the rug. And inspire others to do the same.

I just started reading your newsletter and I want to be a member and receive your books for jailhouse lawyers. I’m in need of such material, or any helpful info you may have. Please put me on your list.

I’m white (lol). I need this plug of unity, I was very impressed by your newsletter. I am white, but I grew up in boys’ homes, jail and prison. So I’m looked at or I feel oppressed as a minority because I’m not down with the Supreme Race thing. I’ve never been a Gangster, but I’ve always been a thug. I’ve lived the Thug Life: sold drugs, done drugs since I was 15. I’m from the Hood.

If you can lace me up on your cause more clearly that would be cool. And I hope that my Civil Right Concern is an acceptable issue to be welcomed as a new Comrade. I’ll write more later this week. With much Love and Respect!

MIM(Prisons) adds: We welcome this comrade into the forces of United Struggle from Within and our ongoing campaigns in Texas and across the country to have our grievances addressed! It’s very heartening to hear about people helping others with their grievances and putting in work to build unity using whatever campaigns make sense where they are.

The more you get exposed to MIM’s politics, we hope you and the people you organize with will continue to see the bigger changes we’re striving for. Right now, civil rights campaigns in prison are a tactical part of an overall strategy of building independent institutions of the oppressed, and public opinion in favor of socialism. Beyond just reforming prisons, we want a world without oppression! This means an overthrow of capitalism, which we can’t get just through civil rights campaigns and filing grievances.

[Campaigns] [Medical Care] [Coffield Unit] [Texas]

TDCJ Shifting Policies, Still Gouging Prisoners and Families

Included with this letter is a clipping from The Echo, TDCJ’s prison newspaper. The clipping shows how TDCJ and the Texas Board of Criminal (In)justice is continuing to try and bill us inmates and our families for the services they have the constitutional obligation to provide.

As you can read in the article, they are going to charge inmates $13.55 per inmate-initiated visit, not to exceed $94.85 ([we used to be charged $100 annually on medical visits, so] we save $5.15 a year). What a deal! NOT!

The TDCJ is trying to save money by using this method to discourage offenders from using medical services. On my unit, H.H. Coffield in Tennessee Colony, TX, our medical services are severely inadequate, often requiring months of wait just to see a provider. This is a unit with over 5,000 prisoners and the medical staff and MHMA staff are present in severely insufficient numbers. Correctional officers are short-staffed too, operating at only 66%. The unit is also over-populated, which causes inmates to suffer the effects of extreme heat. What is more, they are putting two inmates in cells designed for only one person (45 sq. ft. of space – even though TDCJ lost a lawsuit requiring them to provide the federally-mandated minimum of 60 sq. ft. per offender).

Some of us are fighting in courts but lack support from the outside as well as support from our brothers on the inside. It’s as though they like having their rights trampled and being servants to an abusive master.

Please update your Texas Pack to include this information. I also have a copy of the Pack Unit lawsuit about the extreme heat that could be helpful to our comrades in TDCJ, which is available for free from Texas Prisons Air-Conditioning Advocates, P.O. Box 9624, Longview, TX 75608.

TDCJ and the State of Texas insures inmates at $10 million each; so when we die in here, they collect that money. The Trust Fund is an interest-bearing trust account. TDCJ and the State of Texas collect that interest and pocket it. They say our families can take a tax deduction for donating money to our trust-fund accounts, but by IRS tax law, that money cannot be treated as taxable income, because only non-profit organizations can receive money and offer their IRS tax-exempt code to donors. My family has tried to use it, only to be rejected because TDCJ is listed as a “for profit” institution.

[Campaigns] [Civil Liberties] [Ellis Unit] [Texas]

Typewriter Supplies Seized for Helping Others with Grievances

It is October 2019, and I am forced to send this hand-drafted communication due to an act of retaliation by the property officer, Ms. Scott, on this Ellis Unit. Ms. Scott took from me eight of my purchased commissary typewriter ribbons, two of which were staged in my typewriter, with two print wheels of different font sizings. Thus turning my $225 typewriter, which took me 9 months to save up for, into an expensive paper weight.

I wish I had someone out in the world who would/could call, advocating on my behalf for returning my personal property. It was taken in retaliation for my drafting grievances for prisoners subjected to the same by the property C.O., C.O. Scott. If I must litigate for my property’s return I will go all out.

Yes, I have it in my blood to help those in need of it. And I do just that when I can. I do the best I can with what I have; always studying and collecting viable information from every source available. That is one reason these guys come to me for advice and legal draftings. The administration is aware of this, and this is why they collusively have crippled my typewriter as they have.

They are forcing me to initiate a writing campaign to Congressmen seeking readings of my grievances against them in their violations [brought to the state by way of the 14th Amendment] of my 1st, 4th, 5th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Another one I am compelled to notify is the U.S. Attorney General and the Department of Justice. There are no less than a dozen inmates on this Ellis Unit whose step two grievances are in severe default; being 60 days beyond the extension by the OGP (offender grievance program). Therewith voiding any certification bestowed on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Agency’s Grievance System. Allowing us to circumvent the PLRA’s prerequisted administrative remedies so as to go straight to the federal court, because Texas has no court designated program that inmates might seek relief through.

MIM(Prisons) adds: There is a dire need for people on the outside to do public advocacy work for our comrades inside, which is a need that MIM(Prisons) members can’t take on. To this end, MIM(Prisons) supports Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support (AIPS) chapters around the country. Contact us to get involved!

[COVID-19] [Pack Unit] [Texas]

Coronavirus Has Entered Pack Unit

As you might know, there is pending litigation in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice(TDCJ) here at the Wallace Pack Unit in Valentine v. Collier 4;20-cd-01115 over the COVID-19 virus, under-protection from this virus.

Well, as of today (15 April 2020) it has infiltrated this unit due to the fact that staff here has not done their job.

This class action lawsuit is being handled by Edwards Law Firm and has been assigned the same judge that handled the Cole v. Collier case.

  Edwards Law Firm
  Attn: Scott Medlock
  1101 East 11th Street
  Austin, TX 78702

I can keep you updated as needed so that all my brothers and sisters are aware that staff has failed in protecting us in prison once again.

[Civil Liberties] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas]

G-2 Status Denied to Lifers and Over 50 Prisoners in Texas

Greetings. Sorry for the mix up but my unit is so chaotic that I can’t honestly remember when I wrote last! No I did not get a copy of the appeal grievance letter but I was informed you would file for one! Most importantly yes I do want a copy of the grievance manual! … it has been crazy here (Polunsky) from celebrities (K.M.K.) to multiple deaths - lethal injection - inmate on inmate - officer negligence. To the unit putting out a short of staff S.O.S. We have other officers from all around pulling shifts and the reg. staff keep quitting due to the unjust action, overworkload, and underpayment. In short the manual is in dire need and would be greatly appreciated by not only myself but others that make an attempt at combating the injustice and harsh conditions here.

Another major issue that needs to be looked into is the G-3 status (lifers or 50 yrs + over) inmates with stacked time or I.W.O.P. that have completed the required 10 year G-3 status, are being placed back on G-3 status and are told they will never receive a G-2. The G-3 status restricts inmates to certain and/or no jobs and keep them from attending vocation or college class educations. A law was passed concerning a group of G-3 sex offenders because one raped, beat, and killed a guard on another unit but that law applies to sex offenders that are G-3 only. This unit has taken many G-2 and placed them back on G-3 but those offenders have over 10 years done, and no recent disciplinary offense. That is just one of the many issues we are fighting. Again thank you and you all are appreciated.

Could not find requested file