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.

[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Clemens Unit] [Texas]

Clemens Grievance System Fails but TDCJ Headquarters Investigates Complaints

As far as your comment about the Grievance System, well, I gave up on the system a while back. What I do is I will write a letter and address it to Brad Livingston, Executive Director of TDCJ, or Ombudsman, etc. whomever I need it to go to, then I will mail it to my family members and have them email or fax a copy of the letter to whomeever I addressed. That way I get a chance to explain my problem myself. Thus far, it appears that Huntsville (headquarters for TDCJ) has investigated each complaint that I have sent in. I know that not everyone is able to do this, because not everyone has someone on the outside.

Here at the Clemens Unit, some of the problems that I have been working on are:

  1. The state will not treat me for periodontal disease
  2. The laundry department here will not give us clean clothes (uniforms) on the weekends, or on holidays. This time of year, we sweat through our uniform every time we go to the chow hall. After sweating in the same clothes for three days, they smell pretty bad. However, Capt. Teenha Walls would rather not let us have clean clothes, and save the state a few dollars.
  3. There are not enough fans in the chow hall, or in the day room.
  4. The maximum capacity for our day room is 64 people, but there is between 82 to 92 people in our section. So every time that we have lunch, supper, or church, or commissary, our day room is so over crowded that the rank will rack us up because people do not have anywhere to sit.
  5. We have antique doors here that roll manually. People are always getting caught in the doors. People have lost limbs, because the state is too cheap to install the conversion kit simply because it is safer.
  6. TDCJ staff is notorious for not giving us our engress and egress that policy says that we are supposed to get. The standard operating procedure here is to falsify state records.
  7. The light fixture in my cell has not worked for three months, but maintenance will not fix it.
  8. We are supposed to get rec three times a day, but we are lucky to get it once. Then most of the rec equipment is broken, but rank here will not fix it.
  9. We are allowed to go to commissary once every two weeks and spend $95, but we are supposed to put all of our property in a two cubic foot locker. It is impossible to put $35 worth of commissary in that space, much less $95, and all of our other property. Insufficient storage space.
  10. The other day two inmates got into a fight. They were put in lock-up, and the whole wing got locked down. The guys were fighting in the chow hall. Why did the wing get locked down? We didn’t have anything to do with it. The state uses blanket punishment to promote inmate on inmate conflict.
  11. The rank here runs showers starting at about 5:45am. Then we are not allowed to shower after we go to rec.
  12. In the chow hall our trays, cups and spoons are filthy with food residue from previous use.
  13. We have officers that assault inmates then the rank covers it up.
  14. When we get johnnies, we get two sandwiches. One of them has a tablespoon of some kind of meat. The other has a tablespoon of peanut butter and jelly mixed. That is not enough food for a grown adult.
  15. By policy, we are supposed to get twenty minutes to eat, but the staff here barely gives us three minutes.

These are problems that I continue to write Brad Livingston about. Sometimes it takes a while to get something done, but you just have to keep on.

[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Legal] [Medical Care] [Texas] [ULK Issue 52]

Perseverance and Commitment in Texas Lawsuits

It has been a while since I've sent you anything due to all the time involved with fighting the Texa$ Legalized Mafia (Texa$ Department of Criminal (in)Justice) in Federal Court. But I've got to the point that I had to make a report on the advances I've made in our struggle.

1. I sent a letter (which a copy of is enclosed) to the Medical Practice Manager on my Unit who works for University of Texas Medical Board (UTMB). I was reimbursed $100 of the $400 I owed them. Upon his response I sent him another letter informing him that though I was thankful for that, it was not enough, I wanted it all back. The next day it was done. Enclosed is a copy of the first letter I sent to the UTMB Practice Manager. I only have one stamp right now, so I will send the rest of the paperwork when I get a chance.

2. My lawsuit against the Texas Board of Criminal Justice is going great. The Court shot down the Ass. Att. General Leah O'Leary's Motion to Dismiss and her Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgment and gave me until September 9, 2016 to have all my Despositive Motions in. I've already done that and filed two complaints of Bad Faith on the Defendants' part for attempting to defraud the Court on several occasions. I've asked for two separate sanctions ordered and for the Court to order a Default Judgment in my favor. It won't be long and we will get the Revision to Board Policy-03.91 Correspondence Rules repealed.

My next 1983 Lawsuit in Federal Court against the Texas Board of Criminal (in)Justice is going to be over them violating our 14th Amendment right of equal protection under the law, which prohibits sexual/gender discrimination, due to their grooming standard policy. Women who are incarcerated in Texas can grow their hair as long as they want to, but men can't have it very long at all. This is a gender-neutral act and the state is discriminating between the sexes/genders. I've already gotten my informal resolution back from Warden Butcher at Terrell Unit and filed my Step 1 grievance. When it comes back I will file my Step 2 and so on into Federal Court.

Once I finish that one I am going to file against them for slowly but surely denying us due process by removing the tools we need to fight against unconstitutional acts. First in September 2014 they hid the Offender Grievance Operations Manual, and now I read in your latest ULK that they banned the Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook.

It is unbelievable how people watched me struggle day in and day out every day with this fight, and started donating paper, pens, envelopes, and documentation to help me. Please send me everything you can on the ban on the Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook and the Offender Grievance Operations Manual. Right now I'm in Ad-Seg because I was given 5 bogus major cases and an illegal use of force. They didn't use a chemical agent; they had it on hand but instead just beat me for 30 minutes on tape.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this comrade on eir commitment to continuing eir lawsuits which benefit all prisoners in Texas, even though ey is facing persynal physical retaliation from prison staff.

We know that unfortunately the retaliation is more consistent than the victories. So while we support this comrade's efforts at this stage in our struggle, we also know that legal action alone won't put an end to the litany of abuses. What we ultimately need is to organize for self-determination of all oppressed peoples worldwide, including the internal semi-colonies within U.$. borders. Until we are free from Amerikkkan imperialism, we will always have a need for these lawsuits, and face even worse conditions. In the meantime, we organize, educate and try to carve out space for our survival.

[Abuse] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]

Runaround on Grievances in Texas

I would like a sworn complaint form. I would also like the Texas Activist Pack I need all the information I can get because on the William P. Clements Jr. unit they will not answer any grievances right and give us the runaround. The last issue I have received from y'all was the May/June 2016 issue, and I really appreciate the newspaper and information that is given to me. My address is below. The Unit Law Library does not make any copies of any kind for prisoners.

I have also wrote to TDCJ-office of the Inspector General Investigations Department and the U.S. Department of Justice for help also. I am in it to make a change in the prison where I am and help others.

[Abuse] [Wynne Unit] [Texas]

A-1 at Wynne Even Worse Lately

We are in a paper battle with the new wave guards that are being shipped into Texa$ system now. As I sit in pre-hearing detention (PHD) for "assaulting a guard with a weapon that resulted in a non-serious injury."

I took a broken fan body from the trash can because I needed a part off of it. This guard shows up at the cell door and screams "give it back!!" So I hand it to him and walk off, go on to breakfast, eat, and come back. Then the Sergeant and Lieutenant show up on the block. The guard walks up to me and says I assaulted him with a weapon. He looked mad when I laughed in his face, I thought he was going to cry. He looked sick because I didn't react like he though I would. So I sit in PHD, for the past 18 days, with no court date as of yet.

Anyone that's housed on A-1 block (medium custody) has a target on their back ever since a dude beat up the Assistant Warden in the church house. And ever since then it's been a scorched earth policy towards anyone assigned to A-1 block. Send me a copy of the Texas pack that you put out. I feel it will be needed real soon.

These new guards read about how Texas prison system used to be ran pre-Ruiz and they think the system will back them in the post-Ruiz system. But they got laws in place now to stop all the old ways that TDC was ran. Texas went so far as to change their name to get away from their past. TDC to TDCJ.

I've been hammered on, a lot of cases in my 30+ years so far, but none as bad as the last 6 months! Since the dude beat up the Assistant Warden A-1 has been on the state's hit list for anything. Two Latinos jumped on a European dude and got A-1 put on lockdown to control racial tension between the races. Dude blew up the Latino radio and says "oh well," so he got flat weeded. That ain't got nothin to do with race. But it's A-1 block so screw the thumb screws tighter!

Texas is attempting to force you to be a snitch. If your cellie is doing something wrong, if you do not tell on him and he gets a case, you get the same case for not telling on him. So some dude that got cases from their cellies are filing on it using the Texas Criminal Code 500.001 and are starting to get the guards and ranking authorities in hot water, by attempting to put in place a soft form of building tender's by using the snitch or disciplinary case method to find out what's going on the block.

Well I'll close it out for now. My broken knuckle is starting to bang and ibuprofen 600 does not work too good, you know. Remain in the struggle.

[Education] [Texas] [ULK Issue 52]

The Echo is a Voice for the Injustice System

I would like to bring to the attention of all comrades one of the more subtle ways the Texas department of criminal injustice subjugates its slaves. Yes we are slaves. The Texas prison system has a little tool it uses to affect the minds of the slaves. It's called The Echo. This is a monthly publication put out by TDCinJ (Texas Department of Criminal inJustice). It has about as much journalistic integrity as a house of cards has stability. TDCJ is forever finding ways to save a nickel, such as starving the slaves on the weekend. So it is a wonder that something like The Echo should not be cut from the budget. But it remains as it is: an insidious but very effective weapon for keeping the slaves compliant.

All comrades, understand The Echo is a propaganda publication funded by TDCinJ for the sole purpose of aiding in your continued submission. I would like to point out a particular feature that is popular among the slaves and that is a section called "DARBY," wherein slaves send complaints and the like. The response from Darby is always the same. He warns the slaves to stop sniveling and whining. He warns us that we are in prison and should expect to just accept every indignity and injustice that we are subjected to. He preys upon the slaves' masculinity, as if to file a grievance is for girls and lesser men. Even in the middle of the columns will appear a little baby in diapers with tears falling from his eyes as if to imply that if you make a complaint or speak a word about an issue you are a sniveling baby. That is just one of the subtle ways The Echo manipulates the minds of the slaves.

Another point is what you will not find in The Echo and that is anything that actually benefits or improves your quality of life on the plantation, such as, about 18 months ago in the Midland paper on the front page was an article about the heat issue in TDCinJ. Recent federal court cases have been won regarding people dying in custody, and TDCinJ has been ordered to address the issue. The article showed Holiday Unit being equipped with some portable swamp coolers for trial testing. For the last 18 months I have been waiting for The Echo to report on this issue and not a peep, zip zero zilch nada.

Comrades, The Echo is a dangerous rag that should be avoided at all times. A journalistic publication that purports to publish information of importance to inmates should do that and The Echo is nothing more than a tool of oppression. Do not read The Echo. It is only for the advantage of the prisoncrats and not us slaves. Use your grievances and fuck Darby.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We have seen a few issues of The Echo, and we echo this writer's criticism that it is just intended for distraction and to cultivate an attitude of complacency among its readers. All media outlets reflect the interests of the group that funds and edits it. If we want to hear news and information that will build up the oppressed peoples of the world, including U.$. prisoners, we need media outlets that reflect those interests. For example, this newsletter is written mostly by oppressed nation prisoners of the United $tates, and is specifically intended to reflect the interests of the most oppressed people in the world.

MIM(Prisons) not only publishes Under Lock & Key, it also compiles and distributes the exact information that the author of this article is talking about: how to file grievances, how to get your needs and rights addressed within TDCinJ. At about $2.50 a pop, we send in hundreds of these Texas Activist Packs each year. While our projects address a dire need, which is created by TDCinJ itself, we are not funded by the bourgeoisie and so have very limited financial support. If you want to see this newsletter continue, you need to support it with your political and financial contributions.

We also want to address this writer's framing of prisoners as slaves. MIM(Prisons) disagrees with the use of the economic classification of "slavery" for U.$. prisoners, which we've addressed at length elsewhere. We also question the intent of organizing around the line that prisoners are slaves. Many people who push this line are pushing for economic integration of prisoners into the U.$. economic sphere. They advocate for an exploiter-level minimum wage for prisoners, ignoring the fact that this wage is earned by U.$. military aggression abroad. This amounts to demanding privilege for prisoners at the expense of the international proletariat. We have to always be cautious about how we frame demands to ensure they are in the interests of the world's oppressed, and not just favoring one group over another.

Instead MIM(Prisons) sees prisons as a tool of social control, much like The Echo itself, to keep the oppressed internal semi-colonies under the boot of U.$. imperialism. Instead of asking for more integration into Amerikkka, we push prisoners to take up their respective nation's liberation struggle for self-determination, with the goal of a future without imperialism, slavery or any form of oppression.

[Abuse] [Gib Lewis Unit] [Texas]

Retaliation Harassment at Hughes

I'm an administrative segregation offender who's being harassed food contamination in daily food and purchased commissary goods due to being a defiant litigated/grievance filer whom has challenged the medical co-payment outside of this control unit. I have used the grievance petition campaign a Texas prisoner put together that MIM(Prisons) distributed to me, and filed numerous civil actions against several administrative segregation unit administration due to their disgusting good old boy system (abuse, torture, and corrupt tactic). So know I'm experiencing and living the daily reprisals that comes with exposing and trying to prove something against a diabolical system that indoctrinates her state employees. The Cesntral Administrative Classification Committee - State Classification Committee (SCC) and the Administrative Segregation Committee (ASC) here on High Security Gib Lewis has to continue in remaining me in (AD-SEG) to isolate, subjugate, repress and keep a micro-manage eye on me due to my activism against this establishment. If I'm released back into general population these hierarchical officials know that if I get up around them brothers that know civil law in population they will have a provable action on hand.

They have successfully manipulated their inmate lackeys against me including the assigned lumpen STG organizations and to further the onslaught the captains and major has the courtroom to keep a mentally ill, or what we call "psych patient." This administration is putting a mentally ill assigned inmate on each side of me as neighbors so I guess to get a "he's a psych patient reaction too," out the rest of the so called stable inmates assigned in (AD-SEG). Yes these officials is complicit in every good old boy system break tactic at me. Then here comes the psychiatrist department trying to intervene as I'm paranoid, schizophrenic and need their assessments and mental evaluation all of a sudden. No Mr. Fuller I don't need your toxic drugs as the green light justifying these officials actions as if there is something mentally unstable about any of my complaints against the (Super Seg) Lewis Administration.

[Abuse] [Legal] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]

Fighting uphill legal battles at Estelle

The Estelle Unit operates a constitutionally deficient “cite only” method of providing prisoners access to courts. The only way a prisoner can present this issue to a federal court is, pursuant to the PLRA, show actual harm. Basically, this means a prisoner must have presented a claim in court that was defeated due to the insufficient cite only method of providing access to courts. I'm lying in wait. Per the cite only method, it can take 72 hours or more to receive the requested research material cited – if it is ever to be obtained at all. Consequently, what would normally take weeks at the most to research, due to the cite only access, takes months.

The 14th day of August, one officer L. Bowers confiscated two affidavits sworn to by prisoners that had witnessed disciplinary incidents that was to accompany a 2254 petition. Bowers claimed the documents weren't mine though my name was all over them. So after posting this correspondence, I will be drafting a motion to preserve documents to be submitted to the court – for all the good it's gonna do me, but the motion will become part of the permanent record.

[Abuse] [Stevenson Unit] [Texas]

Fighting Retaliation with TX Pack Resources

I just read your TX Pack and I am currently incarcerated at the Stevenson unit. There were a lot of great sources and the whole sticking together united as a voice for prisoner's rights is very intriguing to me. I have 35 years and will probably spend most of it behind bars for I used to have a very horrible drinking problem. Reading your views and facts I look forward to being very much involved with this. I also believe that if things are handled in the right way, we will be able to do our time. Not have anyone dictate how we do this time.

I fully agree with you about the grievance process. I have no faith in this channel. In fact, every time I've used it I've only had one positive outcome, which brings me to my current problem. On July 25th, an officer was working the picket. They opened all the doors and was trying to do an in and out trying to get the convicts to close their own doors. Well, you know a lot of people wasn't going it. So out of spite she, the officer in the picket, says over the intercom, "Ok. Y'all want to play games?" Well, it's the end of July so you already know it's super hot. This officer turns the heaters on full blast. And continued to leave them on for over an hour. When a bunch of us started asking for a supervisor she said, "No".

Well, one of the men was able to slip out the door to go to the line bldg to call for a supervisor. When the sgt. came he went into the picket and spoke to her. The heaters were turned off and he came out of the picket he came to the door and said everything is off now, it should be ok, and left. The officer in the picket got the man's ID and wrote him up for being out of place. Well that did not go anywhere. Well about 20 people got somewhat together and there was some grievances written. But because I personally did not oversee to everybody's grievances, they were shut down because of their action requested was all wrong.

But I had my family call and talk to the warden. He told my mom that I was a liar and that there was no way the heaters were turned on because the gas had been turned off to the buildings two months ago. Well, after I talked to her again I told her that the gas could not be turned off because then we would not have hot water for showers which are also on the building. So I asked her to call and file a complaint with the ombudsman's office. She tried and the number that I gave her was wrong. So I checked my resources and I had indeed given her the right number that I had which was the same number you had in your packet, 936-437-6791. So I gave her a few other Huntsville numbers so that maybe one of them would help her to get the right number. I'm going to call her back this morning and I'll let you know how that goes. I even gave her the number to Executive Director Brad Livingston's office. But Brad Livingston has retired. Do you know who the new exec director is now?

I am very vocal and have a lot of people respect for me. You also mentioned in your pack about a correspondence study group. I want to become a part of that and gain more resources. There are a lot of people that don't have anyone in the world. But there are a lot of sharp people in here that will stand up for what's right. I ask you to sign me up for any newsletter, information and other things that will help me start a study group here. I believe that knowledge is power and I look forward to being a contributor to this and being an integral part also. I encourage you to continue in everything you believe in. You can stay in touch with me as I will stay in touch with you. I have people on the outside that need to be guided in the right direction that believe in me. I just have to have the right resources. My mom is disabled and is on a fixed income so every extra penny she has goes toward the phone so that she can make sure that I know that she is in my corner. She will do anything that I ask I just have to have the right knowledge to lead her in the right direction. So know that you have someone worthy of this. Thank you for your knowledge. I look forward to building onto this.

[Abuse] [Ramsey III Unit] [Texas]

Filth and Neglect at Ramsey III in Texas

I am an inmate at a Texas prison (Ramsey III) serving a 20 year sentence for burglary, my second trip. This time around has been a real experience, the injustices, living conditions, disregard of policy, a grievance system that is a complete closed loop, with no way around it, and no grievance manual to go by. Also being denied our indigent supplies by the law library, who disperses those out at her discretion, when she feels like it, and when you grieve it, it becomes "lost" until the following month.

I have seen inmates with hepatitis defecate on dormitory floors also wash their penises in water fountains and sinks and be left to lay in their bunks in feces for eight hours, no one cares. I've been to medical twice in the past two weeks (the past week we've been on lockdown) and did not see the doctor at all. Once sat in a holding cage for four hours and watched the doctors go home. They never knew I was there. The next time Officer Smith made me "got to the house" for asking how much longer it would be. I had already waited three hours. I also lost a pair of brand new Rhino boots in shakedown that were papered (legal), but they were "altered" because the laces were changed.

Can someone send me a packet on my rights? I don't have any as far as I can see, I also would like to get your bi-monthly publication of Under Lock & Key as I am part of the struggle. I am indigent, my family are all drug addicts (meth) and have pretty much written me off as I don't make any commissary. I don't have any anything to send you, sorry, believe me if I did I would. I support your movement and all that you all are doing and really appreciate that someone cares about us inmates because these guards do not. Thank you, any literature you can send would be greatly appreciated, thanks for caring.

[Medical Care] [Michael Unit] [Texas]

Approved Sleeping Aid, But Not Allowed to Have It

My health has gotten worse and my breathing as well. The P.A. here, named Schafer, has approved for me to have a pillow to raise my head up in the air, so I am able to breathe. I have a pass for this pillow but the laundry and medical tells me they don't give pillows anymore. So why did the P.A. give me a year pass to have one?? However I still gasp for air and my health is bad. Any way if you can help on this I thank you. I filed a grievance on this, still waiting to hear something on that.