I'm in the Tx Prison system and we have the worst of everything. We don't get paid; we're supposed to get work time, good time and flat time as credit to our sentence. It's suppose to stand in place of payment and to help us get parole and put us back on the streets. However, if the parole board doesn't feel as though they should let you go they won't. Besides, if you have aggravated time that means it doesn't even count for you or towards your sentence. So some of us are just here until whatever.
The sad part is we as inmates have all the power in the world to better our situation and force TDCJ to improve the system for the better. Unfortunately, TDCJ inmates won't come together for anything unless a certain race feels disrespected. Then you have a lot of drama over something as childish as a seat, bench, table, or TV and it will be an all out riot because a black guy does something to a Mexican or vice versa. But what I don't understand is when a CO will straight up disrespect an inmate in his face several times a day and the only thing that inmate will do is mumble under his breath because he is afraid to get a case. But they're willing to put everything else on the line because they feel disrespected by another inmate, a person in the same screwed-up situation they're in. That's the number one reason we, as TDCJ offenders, are stuck: we on some racial b.s.
Another thing is commissary, that's all that seems to matter when do we go to the store. We can go to commissary today, and tomorrow guys are looking at the schedule to see when we go again. The commissary is so deplorable anyway at least on the Coffield Unit. It never has everything you need and all the items are generic. You have a few exceptions: snickers, twix, m&ms, coca cola, kitkat, chico sticks, lemonbreads, toaster pops, dr. pepper, big red, fanta, bark's root beer. The food items and hygiene items are generic but you get charged name brand prices. And you get treated bad while you're in line trying to purchase the items you need. Because on Coffield the only time you get any items that you need is on Thursdays: you get 1 toilet paper roll, 5 bars of soap the size of matchboxes and then every 3rd of 4th Thursday you will get toothpaste and a toothbrush.
I didn't mention any other hygiene products because the only time you get that type of stuff is when the holiday season comes around and the Kairos people come and pass out those items or when Mike Barker comes and does a show.
Now, onto a problem that needs immediate attention. In TDCJ we go on lock-down at least twice a year because of the TX 7. You may have heard of these stupid dudes. They broke out of prison just to go to Colorado to have a prayer meeting. They had the opportunity to shine a light on what's going on in TDCJ but their agenda was on something else and because of them we go on lock-down which means you're in the cell 24/7 unless you have what is called a key-in and you have a visit. The biggest problem with lock-down is the food, it's totally unhealthy. They may be supplying the calories we need, but none of the nutrition. The "Johnny" sack-lunches will consist of the following:
3 pancakes with peanut butter (no syrup) OR 2 fried eggs and 2 biscuits OR 2 French toasts
1 small cereal/milk (if COs pass it out)
15 to 20 raisins or 5 to 10 prunes (maybe)
Lunch or dinner:
Always a peanut butter sandwich with either:
white or red mystery meat, a bean burrito, a piece of chicken, two corn dogs, a beef link or a wiener, and maybe a half potato
If the CO feels like it, we may get water, or watered-down punch or tea
As you can see we get no vegetables or fruits and we can be on lock-down from 18 to 31 days. I know this is a health concern. The only reason I can't fault the system is because we as TDCJ inmates don't say anything to the administration but we will complain amongst each other. We have a real problem in TDCJ and it's not getting any better.
I'm hoping that I can get your newsletter to show these inmates that we can make a change but we got to start somewhere. These guys don't believe grievances work and I know that they do; of course they don't if you don't file them. I always hear guys say they don't know how to fill them out and I always tell them you didn't know how to fill out no commissary slip to order your items but you figured that out! I'm asking Under Lock & Key to print cases where grievances made a difference.