Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Texas Prisons

Got legal skills? Help out with writing letters to appeal censorship of MIM Distributors by prison staff. 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.

[Medical Care] [Stevenson Unit] [Texas]

Healthcare Errors and Denials in Texas

I was recently sent to have hernia repair surgery and once I was back on my feet I was scheduled for "staple removal". The nurse was trying to remove staples and actually stapled me in my incision. She was trying to remove staples with an actual surgical stapler and because of the staple she put into me they had to dig the staple out and because of this my incision was opened back up and I had to receive more staples because of this!

I can't believe this happened to me. I am currently trying to receive my medical records for that day but I am having a hard time because I am indigent. I filed a step one grievance but I have been transferred to another unit and I don't know what to do.

I tried to speak to the head of the medical department the day of the incident but she refused to speak with me. She told the nurse for me to place a request in to speak to her. I don't know what to do. I know the incident was documented because the doctor had to remove the staple and I told her to get the trash can from the OR room because the nurse had thrown the stapler in the trash before getting the actual staple removed. The doctor said "no way". She wrote in the notes that I had a "new" staple and that it had to be removed and then two more staples had to be put back on the incision and closed it.

I don't know what else to do about this incident. Who do I write and how do I get my medical records?

[Abuse] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]

Lockdown, no Rec, no Law Library at Hughes Unit

We were just been released from a 2 month lockdown because a new Warden had stepped in and wanted us to know hes the boss. We were not given clean clothes for 30 days straight. We received johnny sacks for 5 weeks straight before getting our first trayed meal. We all lost weight!

I filled grievance after grievance. The Grievance Investigator never even showed up for the first month. We had to buy our grievances and I-60's from other Inmates because the Staff told us they were out.

I am in G-5 Closed Custody which means I can't leave my cell. These people have and are denying us access to the Law Library. They're only sending what they want and when they want. You name it and its happening here. We are still being denied recreation yard time. I am in a bad faith based POD. We were being refused that until recently.

[Abuse] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]

Denied Out-of-Cell Rec and Adequate Food at Hughes Unit

I am writing regarding an issue that affects my friend who is imprisoned at the TDCJ Unit A.D. Hughes in Gatesville, Texas. Prison Administrators at this unit are continually denying the inmates and convicts in Administrative Segregation (AdSeg) any amount of time out of their cells to exercise or shower as well as continually providing the inmates and convicts with nutritionally inadequate meals thus violating State and Federal Law. These issues are causing damage to their mental and physical health in addition to indirectly creating a risk to public safety.

My friend is in AdSeg where the inmates and convicts are already confined for 23 hours each day in a cell the size of a small closet which was designed to create maximum isolation from human contact. Their only break from this type of confinement is one hour out-of-cell exercise the State and Federal Courts ordered TDCJ to provide during incarceration (Ruiz v. Estelle, 679 F.2d 1115 1151-52 (5th Cir., 1982)). An hour of out-of-cell exercise or activity was ordered each and every single day because of the risk to the mental and physical health of all inmates and convicts who are subjected to uninterrupted confinement in a tiny four-wall cell. This serious issue is well established and recognized.

However, at the Hughes Unit prison, officials are habitually and continually disregarding the established laws. For instance, in the four and a half month period from April 2018 through August 2018, there was no out-of-cell exercise provided to inmates and convicts in AdSeg on 156 of those days. This isn't a new development or the result of an emergency situation. Over the last several years, out-of-cell exercise has been canceled at a similar rate on this unit. Administrators at the A.D. Hughes Unit have not been consistently complying with State of Federal Laws—at best they are complying half the time.

To make matters worse, on about half of that time, administrators are providing inmates and convicts in AdSeg meals that are calorically and nutritionally inadequate which is also a violation of State and Federal Law. Approximately one fourth of all meals served consist of just two sandwiches and nothing more. The first sandwich has only a single slice of processed lunch-meat, soy patty or other similar meat-type product. The second sandwich has about a spoonful of peanut butter. The two sandwiches combined contain about 500 calories. There are never any fruits of vegetables or any other food required for a balanced diet made available to the inmates in AdSeg. It is impossible for these two sandwiches that are provided every now and then to maintain a person's health. Sometimes the convicts at the Hughes Unit could be forced to eat nothing but these sandwiches for months at a time, but only if there was a disciplinary lock-down and we are to be on a 2,500 calories daily dIet.

They got out-of-cell time only 95 times. There is no valid reason for the issues to be happening on a regular basis. Inmates and convicts are given the excuse that there is a lack of staff to provide out-of-cell exercise or to serve proper meals when they question these issues. While this may have been true in some instances, there are many days where exercise was denied while there was adequate staffing on the unit. The staff are choosing to cancel out-of-cell exercise because they don't feel like performing their daily work-time duties. When staff wants a day off they just ask the ranking officer in charge to declare a staff shortage and then they sit around on the unit during their shift doing nothing but collecting payment for a job they aren't performing—money provided by taxpayers. No one is holding TDCJ-CID unit administrators, or these staff members, accountable for their behavior mainly because it takes place all the way down the line from the executive director down to the CO II.

Even when there is a genuine staff shortage that fact doesn't absolve prison administrators of the responsibility of doing whatever is necessary to fully and adequately staff the prisons. Indeed the very essence of their duty is to create and maintain prisons that comply with all relevant laws. The chronic staff shortage is due in part to halfhearted measures taken to hire new employees: when new employees are hired they are often fired on trivial pretexts in order to keep staffing levels artificially low to save money on the prison budget.

It is always important to remember that these inmates and convicts will eventually be paroled or serve their sentences and be released back into society. There is a growing awareness that these types segregation units are incubators of mental illness and further criminality; even when run properly, which they never have been and never will be. Prison administrators' disregard for the inmates and convicts' rights and well being here at the Hughes Unit is only making the problems worse, but only because they wear a different color uniform than us that puts them as bias against us from jump street. After mistreating and antagonizing the convicts for years, TDCJ-CID administrators will just release them back into society, leaving an unsuspecting public to deal with the resulting fallout. Prison administrators at the Hughes Unit are putting us all at risk with this type of unlawful behavior.

Please investigate this matter and see to it that prison officials at the Hughes Unit provide the AdSeg inmates and convicts with a minimum of an hour of out-of-cell recreation every single day as well as showers on a daily basis and nutritious meals as ordered by State and Federal Law.

[Abuse] [Medical Care] [Stiles Unit] [Texas]

Texas Forces Segregation Conditions for Aircon

I was moved to another unit for a heat restriction that I have due to medical problems, and have to be in air conditioning. TDCJ lost a lawsuit and Fed court tells them to A/C the Pack One unit. So now they are doing some system wide moving us inmates who have heat restrictions, or what is called heat sensitive medical conditions. There is about 24 conditions that they have at this time. The number one is if inmates are 65 and older. I am 67, but I have a lot of the conditions they talk about having.

Anyway, the Texas prison system is trying to get us old inmates into a temperature control housing which is with A/C. But the bad thing they are putting us in what is called 12 Building which is the Ad-Seg on Stiles unit. Now they made 3 pods for general population heat restriction but we are treated like we are Ad-Seg.

We do get day room from 7am to 10:30pm, phone, TV, we go to commissary off the building, mail room. We don’t have a chow hall we only have a room with 6 tables, they have to bring cooked food to 12 building from the main kitchen. To the kitchen on 12 building which only has a steam table that we get served off of it.

[Censorship] [Campaigns] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 68]

Texas Bans Mailing its own Grievance Manual to Prisoners

tdcj griev manual censorship

We just got word that the Texas Department of Criminal inJustice (TDCJ) has denied delivery of the TDCJ Offender Grievance Manual to one of our subscribers in Texas. Not just at the unit level (we were not informed of the censorship at the unit level by Polunsky Unit mailroom staff, in direct contradiction to TDCJ's own policies)(1), but the Director's Review Committee even upheld the censorship of the grievance manual. The Director.

Well, what could possibly be the reason given for censoring TDCJ's own manual which was written for "offenders"? Couldn't tell you. All the notice says is it was "received in contradiction with BP-03.91, Uniform Offender Correspondence Rules." Don't forget, BP-03.91 doesn't just say that this item is denied delivery to this particular subscriber. It says that this item is banned in the entire state for all time. Just like Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, our "Defend the Legacy of the Black Panther Party" study pack, and multiple issues of Under Lock & Key (at least including Nos. 63, 57, 54, 51, 45, 35, 32, 28, and 27).

You might be wondering why MIM Distributors is sending in the grievance manual anyways. It's a TDCJ document, after all. And according to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, the grievance manual ought to be available to prisoners.(2) Well, in September 2014, a memo went out that removed the grievance manual from all TDCJ law libraries.(2) Why would they do this? Don't know, they didn't say. TDCJ's grievance system is notoriously ineffective and deliberately obstructive. And Texas is historically one of the worst states when it comes to brutal national oppression. Seems to be part of those overall patterns.

We did have a "victory," so minor that it's even embarrassing to use that word. The Director's Review Committee Decision Form actually listed the name of the item that they censored! Wow! We didn't have to go hunting around in the list of mail we sent to this subscriber, guessing which item was censored based on the date we mailed it out. This is often a very difficult detail to pin down, considering how much mail we send in and the weeks- and months-long delays in the TDCJ censorship procedures.

So, we've been protesting the ineffective grievance process in Texas for almost ten years. The grievance manual was hidden almost 5 years ago. And now we can't even mail in the grievance manual. We do plan to appeal this censorship to the Director's Review Committee, but often our letters to them go unanswered. In the short term, we need people (and lawyers!) in Texas to put pressure on TDCJ to stop obstructing prisoners' access to the grievance system. Ultimately we need to overthrow this totally bunk injustice system and the economic system it protects.

[Campaigns] [Terrell Unit] [Texas]

Texas Still "Losing" Grievances

I am writing just to touch base with you. I am staying busy: have three 2254s before the courts, two civil rights suit, one recently filed, the second in its third year of litigation and is now before the 5th Cir. I am researching to build another 11.07 Habeas Corpus and memorandum of law. I am pondering on litigating against the grievance system here they “lose”, “didn’t receive” …. don’t conduct an actual investigation, as in a C.O. took legal material out of my subsequent storage box (“legal box”) but not a single listed witness was interviewed!

Thank you for sending me your publication, keep it up, it’s a welcome source of good information.

[Abuse] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas]

Agribusiness Abuses

I haven't wrote in a few. I wanted you to know I'm still here. So much has went on at this unit. We're strugglin with no one sticking together. I am part of a agribusiness work crew. I have never been so abused in all my life as at Ferguson Unit. Fed so small amounts of food, us that are indigent are doing really bad.

[Abuse] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas]

Punished for Broken Door Lock in Texas

Recently, two friends of mine were locked-up behind a faulty locking mechanism. For 3 months these guys made reports to maintenance about the cell door constantly reading "un-locked" when in fact it was locked. On one night, after rack-up, their door was opened by the duty officer. She claims there was paper stuffed in the door. She wrote up a case and these guys were found guilty. And now that they are gone, that cell door still has problems. There never was any paper and the right to due process was violated due to the fact that none of the defendants' evidence was allowed in court. These guys had one Sgt. and two C.O.s who were willing to testify on their behalf. None of it was allowed.

[Stiles Unit] [Texas]

Successful Chow Hall Campaign

I would like to take this time to share with the readers a very good and strong effort that brought about a positive change.

About 6 months ago I started asking these young inmates on Stiles Unit 8 Building to make a copy of a Step #1 Grievance I had wrote challenging the sanitation of the 8 Building makeshift kitcken that used three (3) barrels to wash, rinse, and sanitize trays, because the makeshift kitchen does not have a dishwasher in it. Well my Grievance came back and all allegations that food service violated policy and procedures was denied.

However the good news is I thought I knew how to write a good Grievance until February 2019 when I got the copy of the Texas Pack. I rewrote the Grievance in a friend's name and today 8 Building and J and L Pod Medium Custody go to the main chow hall to eat lunch and dinner. Yes, they still feed breakfast in the makeshift kitchen and I challenged that.

A week ago I thought I had died and went to heaven because I received a pack of Grievance Complaint forms (petitions to have our grievances addressed). I also received ULK 66. To my comrades in the struggle I say keep fighting and to MIM I say thank you.

[Abuse] [Powledge Unit] [Texas]

Wheelchair Dorms Living in Filth in TX

Please send me the Texas Campaign Pack, enclosed are 7 stamps. Also, please send me several of the petitions for the piss poor way this unit answers every one of my grievances. This unit that I am on is committing crimes against the elderly, the handicapped, and the mentally impaired on a daily basis, and also crimes against humanity in general. I've been on this unit for 8 years and I have seen, with my own eyes, shit that would make you cry, or puke. I know things about some of the rankers that is enough to put my life in serious danger.

We, the offenders in the wheelchair dorms, need help. The Justice Department needs to interview several of us and examine these dorms and see the filth, black mold and scum that we wallow in daily. The roach infestation is so bad that our diapers and other medical supplies are really being contaminated. We don't have anywhere to store medical devices, supplies, or meds except on the floor in trash bags up under our bunks.

MRSA & MSSA are spreading like wild-fire, and still, nothing is being done. The medical department has a theft ring going on. First they steal my money from my trust fund, for non-chargeable visits, then after I notice it's gone (after going to the commissary), and they've collected interest off it, then they give it back. They wake us up at every count (all night long, by beating on the cubicle walls, just to see if we are still alive.) And, to file a grievance is nothing more than a joke.

Trust me, I'm at my boiling point, and I don't give a shit about more time. This is my last attempt to find some kind of help. I'll close for now and try to maintain long enough to hear your response.