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.

[Abuse] [Wynne Unit] [Texas]

Theft of Indigent Supplies at Wynne

I am requesting a copy or two of the criminal sworn complaint so I can file criminal charges against two TDCJ-CID staff members on this unit (Wynne) that I am incarcerated on. These two staff members who work in the Wynne Unit Law library are denying me weekly indigent supplies and sessions to attend the law library to do research. About 3 months now I haven't been able to write letters to my family or legal activists in the free world.

I have had two investigations conducted on this unit law library now by the Mayor's Office and the Access to Courts Office in Huntsville, TX. Nothing has been done to these law library offices yet. The inmate clerks have been stealing or shall I say been given the indigent supplies by the officers so they can sell the supplies to other inmates on their cell blocks for commissary items (food). The indigent supplies consist of typing paper, pens, envelopes, plain, brown legal envelopes and stamps. These officials and inmates are trying to cover up the theft ring by charging the supplies to me and other offenders.

The Prison and Jail Operations Director has sent a copy of my complaint to the Unit Senior Warden, Rocky Moore, to investigate and resolve now. I had an interview with the warden last Friday and he said he would see into it and resolve the problem. So for now I got to traffic and trade in order to get mail and letters out to the free world agencies and my family and lawyers. So these sworn complaint forms will be my next move to prosecute the crooked staff members on this unit. All help is Appreciated and Accepted at this time.

[Campaigns] [Allred Unit] [Texas]

No Accountability with Grievances in Texas

Here in Texas, we are having severe problems with ACCOUNTABILITY with the guards, rank, staff, employees and wardens. The grievance system is a joke. Broken, and in itself corrupt, a conflict of interests. Endlessly, we, here in Texas, have tried every known rights group, agencies and firms only to be put off with our Grievance System.

Texas, it seems, has some type of trump card on extreme abuse and violation of its prisoners and their rights. They (the Texas Prison System) change policies, rules and laws ONLY to please the ones in control.

In 2015 and 2016, inmates in Texas filed over 151,000 grievances. Over 80 percent of the grievances were about prison guards, staff, medical denials and abuse. All 80+%, of course, were denied, with no fault found on guards, staff or medical. Some of these grievance issues include no fans in the day room and living areas, with all windows welded shut. No type of air cooling system. The heat and air is in itself unbearable at all hours during the summers.

The guards need no reason for how they handle inmates, or the way they treat and mistreat them. They are always in The Right. The inmate is always in The Wrong, and that is that. Medical denial, and being in severe distress is the norm. Availability of ice water is extremely limited, the guards, of course get all they need. Broken water systems and the inability to cool the living areas, even at night has made many sick. Is there any wonder why there are so many heat related deaths and suicides here in the Texas prison system? Some inmates have tried to seek medical help, only to be charded $100.00 co-pay and then receive no help at all! Where do you turn? The Grievance System? The wardens? Where is there any help?

Hundreds of inmates are forced to eat their meals with no teeth at all, being denied dentures. Here within the last few years to date, wardens have been escorted off the unit for corruption, some showing up drunk day after day. It is out-of-control, no accountability. Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees do what they want, when they want, how they want, and answer to no one for their actions!

A new policy was just passed in 2016, allowing TDCJ Administration to re-class thousands of inmates, some who have been here, like myself, 19 years or longer, with clean records, blemish-free disciplinaries, good forced work records (inmates in Texas are payed no money or anything for their labor with Good Time/Work Time meaning nothing towards release) and clean conducts, to give back the ten-year-earned G2 status, placing back to a lower status (what they do to disciplinary or problem inmates). Placing us all back with the very ones causing trouble or just arriving in the system. A violation of our supposedly protected due process rights and a Texas Law, where it is illegal (or so we thought) to change any law, policy or rule to make it retroactive where it has a negative effect on our sentence or time, placing us all back to G3 status, taking our ten-year-earned (which was extremely difficult) status, jobs and housing assignment privileges.

A Texas Judge, Ellison, wanted to know why TDCJ-ID could not provide information on how many heat related illnesses and deaths had occurred since 1990. TDCJ-ID stated that they were not keeping count!

There is no type of accountability whatsoever. The corruption within the system is at its highest! It is a fact that no one cares. If you are ever incarcerated, at some point, God forbid, you may fully understand and see first-hand how out-of-control it really is. Faced with all that is going on in prisons, all over, can you please tell me how is anyone to have any type of hope if you trust the current system? It is broken. Nothing, "NOTHING!" works!

Yes! Please send me several (if possible) petitions on the new follow-up petition written to federal law. We want to hold Texas accountable to federal requirements!

[Abuse] [Ellis Unit] [Texas]

Living in Third World Conditions at Ellis Unit in Texas

I am writing this in response to several issues we have on the O.B. Ellis Unit. These issues are a daily struggle for offenders. The issues I am raising are: The access to a toilet in common areas, such as dayrooms and chapel, the drinking water that we have access to in our cells, dayrooms, chapel, etc., the new toilets being installed in the two man cells, the illumination of bright lights being left on all day and night, and The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). We as offenders would like the public to be aware of the Cruel & Unusual Punishment we face on a constant basis. All issues can be avoided if TDCJ would address the problems, instead of ignoring them.

First issue is with not having access to toilets in common areas, such as dayrooms and chapel. When in the dayroom they keep the door locked and most of the time we are in there for several hours at a time. We only have access to a urinal in the dayroom and the chapel.

They stage us for chow sometimes an hour or more before we leave for the chow hall. We then get stuck in the chow hall for 30-45 minutes before being released to go back to the wing. Once back on the wing we are put into the dayroom for an hour or more most of the time before any in-or-outs are given to go to our cell. One example was on January 18, 2019, when they staged us for chow at 4:00pm and we didn't go to chow until 5:00pm. We made it back to the wing at 5:45pm and at 6:15pm we were still requesting an in-&-out into our cells (where the only toilets are). My stomach was upset and I had diarrhea and needed to go to the restroom when we came back from chow. When we got back to the wing we were put in the dayroom and at that point I asked CO Slider if she could let me in my cell so I could use the restroom, and she told me she didn't have time. I asked her where I was supposed to go and she said "whatever." When I realized I could not hold it any longer I used the only thing made to the restroom in the dayroom. The urinal.

Sargeant (Sgt.) White and CO Bradford were walking down the hall when they noticed me without a shirt on and approached the dayroom window. This is when they realized what I was doing and came into the wing. Sgt. White ordered CO Bradford to lock me up on F-Wing. As CO Bradford escorted me to F-Wing he told me I should have just used the restroom in my pants instead of the urinal, that it would have been better for me. When I got on F-Wing I was placed into a small cage and stripped-out. I asked CO Siad if I could see medical as I had blood on my toilet paper, but was refused medical treatment. They never even took me by medical after handcuffing me (use of force).

Sgt. White came to F-Wing and asked me for my statement on the case for causing a disturbance by using the restroom in the dayroom. I wrote my Step-1 grievance while on F-Wing and got a move slip stating I was moved because of being locked-up. My property was packed and brought to me, which I was missing 1 black bag of coffee and my medical issued lotion. When I received my step-1 back the Warden stated that Officer Slider denies any wrong doing and there was no disciplinary actions taken. The proof of disciplinary action was being locked-up and my property being packed-up. They discarded the case, so I did not receive the case.

I was extremely humiliated by other offenders and the officers on F-Wing. This has caused me to have suicidal thoughts and anxiety attacks. When I received my Step-2 back they still claim "There was insufficient evidence to support your allegations of misconduct by the staff named in your complaint." But then state that "Staff conduct will continued to be monitored to ensure professionalism and policy compliance." Neither investigator for my Step-1 nor my Step-2 ever came to the wing and asked anybody (offenders) what happened during the incident.

The second issue is with the drinking water we have access to in our cells, dayroom, chapel, etc. The O.B. Ellis Unit was built in 1961 and still has lead pipes underground that cannot be seen. Maintenance went through and changed the pipes in the pipe chases to a type of PVC, but not the pipes buried underground. Our sinks have galvanized pipe and fittings used and also have outside faucets installed. Galvanized has been banned in the United States for drinking water and the outside faucets are not FDA approved for drinking water. This is unhealthy and unlawful.

The water coming out of the sinks smells bad and tastes bad, and sometimes it comes out brown. This is the water we are supposed to drink and prepare any food we purchase off commissary with. Not everyone can afford to purchase bottled water from commissary for drinking, nor should we have to in order to be able to have safe drinking water. When the water gets real bad they put up notices to boil the water before drinking. We do not have a way to boil the water before we use it to drink or cook food as our hot pots do not get that hot. They issue bottled water to officers when this happens but not offenders.

The igloos in the dayroom are used for ice water, but they never clean them out. They just empty them in the morning and refill them with ice and water. The tests they say maintenance does on the water is said to pass or exceed the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ), but I do not believe they do. These tests should be done by an outside agency and tested at the source where we get our water.

Jackson v. Arizona, 855 F.2d pt 641(4) 9th Cir. 1959; states polluted water is an Eighth Amendment claim. This is a violation of our Eighth Amendment "The consumption of Hazardous Water." As I stated earlier I have been having diarrhea since being on this unit and would like to know if it is because of the water.

Another part of the issue is that we do not have hot water available in common areas. This is unsanitary as we cannot clean our cells, dishes, clothes sold on commissary, etc., with hot water. There is hot water in the first cell on each row of cells which shows it would not take much to add hot water to every cell. We do not have access to the mop cell (closet) as we are either locked in our cell or in the dayroom. The dorms have hot water at their sinks, so we should have access to hot water in our sinks in our cells.

The third issue is the installation of the new Icon Water Control System on the toilets. I was told that TDCJ received a grant for Ellis and the Estelle Units to save water. The Icon system is being installed as a trial project on both units. They also told me that Lori Davis was not aware of the fact that there is a lock-out feature on them. These new toilets only flush every 5 minutes and if you flush more than once then you get locked out for an hour. They are being installed into two-man cells instead of just single cells. This will be an issue when you have both offenders in the cell needing to use the restroom right after each other. Also, if you get diarrhea or vomiting because you are sick. Davis v. Scott, 157 F.3d 10003, 1006 (5th Cir. 1998). Human feces carries a certain odor plus toxic gases. This falls under Cruel & Unusual Punishment having to deal with other human feces.

The fourth issue is the illumination of the bright lights at night. They do not dim or turn off the lights at night. Some wings have dimmers but not all wings. This is unconstitutional because it does not allow an offender to receive enough sleep. Lemaire v. Mass., 745 F.Supp. at 636 (5) 1990; Keenan v. Hall, 83 F.3d 1083, which states; There is no legitimate penological justification for requiring (offenders) to suffer physical or psychological harm by living in constant illumination.

The fifth issue deals with the PREA standard throughout the unit. First of all the offenders working in an Industry have to get strip-searched twice for lunch chow and twice at the end of the day. We get strip-searched before leaving the building we work in, and then again at the turn-out gate before entering the unit, by the same TCI employees. I was told this falls under two different policies which is okay, except that they do not make the policy for the turn-out gate for all offenders.

On 04/04/19, a Thursday afternoon, Senior Warden Kelly Strong, was outside the perimeter fence watching us get strip-searched with her binoculars. After several offenders had to contact their family that weekend, Monday afternoon they started painting windows black and put up plastic on the fence. There is still a problem as they only painted a few windows and most people stand taller than the painted windows. The guard tower by the back gate can see over the plastic and the log for that tower will show that most of the time its women in the tower.

TDCJ states "Zero-Tolerance" to the PREA standards, which states that opposing gender shall not be able to see your genitals or breasts. Most offenders live in cells and the toilets face the front of the cell. We are not (by policy) allowed to hang anything up to impede the officers to view into the cell. This allows the women to be able to see us using the restroom or changing clothes. The newer units are built out of concrete with solid doors which have two small windows for the officer to be able to see in there. These are also maximum security units, so they could update the cells and install something on the front of the bars.

Now that I was able to bring these issues up about the O.B. Ellis Unit, we hope that people will see the changes that need to be done. We would like to get the help of the public on fixing the issues. Living in the Texas Prison System is similar to a Third World country. The people of the United States of America are supposed to set the standard on how people are treated. This is why we send out humanitarian aid and go to war with countries that have leaders that mistreat their people. We have all done something wrong to end up here, but we still have a right to be treated like human beings. We need the help of people to fight for our constitutional rights while incarcerated as we are limited in what we can do. Most offenders I have met are trying to change who they are and working to be a better man, father, citizen. I want to thank you for taking the time to read this letter and your consideration in helping us. If I can provide additional information, please let me know.

[Medical Care] [Darrington Unit] [Texas]

Medical Grievances and Retaliation in Texas

I would like to express my deepest concerns about the poor grievance process and retaliatory nature of the medical staff here on the Darrington Unit in Rosharon, TX. The medical staff of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) diagnosed me with a B12 deficiency which can only be resolved by monthly B12 injections to supplement the low level within my system.

However, upon being transferred to Darrington Unit, Dr. Hulipas declined to administer an injection for three months before the medication was finally given. This particular medication had to be administered every 28 days, nevertheless I would receive the injection only every 45 days or longer. I therefore filed a number of grievances.

In response to the grievances, the grievance investigators instructed the staff to provide the medication as prescribed. The medical unit's reaction was swift as the nurse practitioner removed ten medical restrictions from my file without a thorough examination. My attempt to have it resolved by the grievance process was unsuccessful. In fact, while the grievance investigator ruled that restrictions can be removed, an offender has a right to challenge the removal of restrictions at no co-payment charge. My attempts to be re-evaluated by the medical staff were unsuccessful as well. The grievance coordinator refuses to process the I-127 filed asking to be seen by a physician in order to resolve the issue.

At this time, every restriction was and still is removed leaving this offender in potentially dangerous medical neglect. Hopefully, this letter will shine light on the treatment patients are receiving at Darrington and in Texas prisons as a whole.

[Abuse] [Wynne Unit] [Texas]

Property Destruction and Theft at Wynne Unit

The Wynne Unit in Huntsville, Texas is not using responsible searches as posted by the Federal act of Search & Seizures. On 5-6-19, searches began where they destroy family photos, Muslim prayer rugs and things that we buy at the store. Even the sheets they give us themselves have been ripped in half; all because they think they got the right to do so after catching some stupid people smoking K-2 and several were stuck and hospitalized. They're falsely accusing offenders and not respecting their own policies. Like females that catch an an offender using the restroom, they're calling code 205—they haven't even announced themselves as policy says they should and the cases are running through because of a bias in favor of ranking staff. All trash, even the Grievance System is straight BooBoo.

[Medical Care] [Campaigns] [Terrell Unit] [Texas]

Diabetic Refused Insulin in Texas

On January 30, 2019 I was taken on bench warrant by TDCJ. The transport officer told the trial court judge that I had to provide my own insulin when I informed the court that I am severely diabetic requiring three insulin injections daily. Despite this fact, TDCJ refuses to provide insulin any time I am transported. The TDCJ grievance office refuses to respond to this complaint. The Terrell Unit grievance office is forging grievances and even signing offenders' names for them and/or refusing to process their grievances, especially with regards to serious health issues.

[Abuse] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]

Brutal Assault After Classification Committee Assigns Dangerous Cellmate

Dig this: I'm 63 years of age, been locked up 30 yrs flat since July 10, 1989 for possession of a pistol by an ex-con. I just got released from Ad. Seg. after 10 years (for inmate assault back in Apr. 2009) to be relisted to the "re-entry" program. However, on Jan. 14, 2019 I was "re-assigned" and sent to Alfred High Security. I went before UCC (Unit Classification Committee) and they assigned me to be in the cell with [Prisoner Y], an extreme psych. patient and sexual predator. After four days in the cell, on Jan. 14, 2019 at 4 o'clock in the morning after breakfast, I went to take a leak and while my back was turned he attacked me, hitting me and breaking the right side of my jaw which knocked me out. He then proceeded to break my nose, and my right eye socket and busted my head with something and now I have a grapefruit-sized hematoma on the back of my head.

I had major surgery on Jan. 19 2019. The doctor at TX Tech. Health Science Center, put three titanium plates in my face!! Now this dude [Prisoner Y] had just 1 1/2 month prior jumped on and brutally assaulted his last two cellmates; one of whom he sexually assaulted. Thus the above committee members knew all this and yet I was put in harm's way: attempted murder and agg. assault! After the fact I talked to five safe prison investigators and each and every last one of them emphatically stated "you shouldn't have been put in that cell! and that inmate was supposed to be single-celled and listed as assaultive/sexual predator!"

So now I'm stuck with the daunting task of trying to find a lawyer or legal organization that will help me litigate this immense wrong done to me.

[Abuse] [Gib Lewis Unit] [Texas]

Sleep Deprivation in Texas

I am in need of a copy of the amendments. I am also in need of a copy of the Universal Declaration of Rights for all prisoners. I had both of these at one time and they either got lost or stolen.

I also need to know how much uninterrupted sleep we offenders are supposed to receive. You see, we woke up several times every night for anything from a roster check to count. Even sometimes for lay-ins. At count time sometimes the officers turn on the lights and wake us up due to their not having flashlights. The lights are on for these counts for an hour and a half sometimes, uncalled for. I need to do something about this problem.

[Medical Care] [Abuse] [LeBlanc Unit] [Texas]

No Wheelchair Accomodations in Texas

I am in need of some help with some legal work or someone to tell me what I need to do about being on a unit that doesn't have anything for wheelchairs to be here on this unit. I have a lot of medical problems and can not walk. This unit has no 24 hour medical and there is nothing for a wheelchair to be on this unit. The nurses on this unit try to be a PA or MD when they are just a nurse and that is it. I have filed grievance after grievance and nothing has gone good about anything on this problem I am having on this unit. Is there anything you could help me on this problem please?

[Campaigns] [Texas]

Texas Confiscating Offender's Grievance Operations Manual

Not too long ago I purchased from y’all the Offenders Grievance Operations Manual, which I paid about $10 for. I need y’alls help in the sense that if y’all could please send me any kind of proof that I did purchase this manual from y’all. Or if you could please send me a witness statement that I did purchase this manual from you. The reason that I need this kind of proof is because said manual has been confiscated by a C.O. that works in the law library. And it would help a lot if you could please help with this matter. I thank you so very much for your help in resolving this matter. I will wait for your prompt response. I need this information as soon as possible so I can file my step 1 grievance. Thank you!