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] [Medical Care] [Wynne Unit] [Texas]

Knee brace destroyed by staff blamed on prisoner

I am writing in regards to retaliation from officers for an attempted sexual assault by an officer that reached into my cell and tried to hit me in the private area. The cameras show this officer assaulting me. About 4 or 5 days go by and Sgt De Chow comes to my door and rolls it and tells us to strip out. During that process I hand my knee brace to him and he tries to bend it and it don't bend so he closes the door and takes my brace to the front of the run by the picket and takes it apart. A Lt. Simmons shows up and takes my brace and leaves the block and Sgt. DeChow comes back and puts me and my celly in the dayroom. I ask the Sgt why he took it apart and he stated it doesn't matter it's contraband, the metal inside could be used as a weapon.

The knee brace was given to me by UTMB hospital Galveston because I have a messed up left knee and need it. I'm placed in lock-up by Lt. Simmons and when I ask why he says investigation from someone higher than him. Three days go by and Sgt. Easley investigates a case for 13.0 destruction of property saying I tore the knee brace up. Note all of this is on camera where I was housed and a review of the cameras will show the Sgt. DeChow taking my brace to the front of the run pulling it apart. I feel like all this is being made up in retaliation for the grievance I filed on an officer prior to this.

[Abuse] [Texas]

Unauthorized cell searches in retaliation for grievances

I am in receipt of your August 15, 2017 sending of the MIM (Prisons) "Censorship Pack", thank you very much. Upon reaching pg 4 of 8 the first line hooked me. After receiving a minor disciplinary case, in May 2017, for possessing copies - sent to me by mail from family - of a 14 page memorandum outlining how the Law Library (L/L) is operated in a manner well outside of compliance with T.D.C.J. B.P.-D3.81 and the various A.T.C. rules and regulations put forth by T.D.C.J. & the Texas legislature to govern the operations & comportment of the L/L & those in the L/Ls of T.D.C.J. Of course I filed appeal grievances (steps 1 and 2 both) after they (yea, the pigs) ran the fraudulent case - in violation of due process rights - without giving me the opportunity to participate in the disciplinary hearing by attending (step 2 still under review).

On Aug 17, 2017 the L/Lian dispatched this time, two L/L staff C.O.s to search through my legal materials - as was done in April/May - while I was forced, once again, to be staged "out of line-of-sight" from my cell, while they perused through my legal writings & documents.

Deigning not to reveal whether or not they had the requisite I-186, "Authorization to Search Legal Material for Written Contraband," it is now 48 hours later, time limit is 24 hours within which they are required by TDCJ B.P. 03.8I & II(B)(3) to provide me an I-185 "Notice of Confiscation of Written or Printed Material During Search for Contraband," informing the offender of the property removed, the reason for the removal and offender's right to file a grievance.

These conductings are retaliatory harassment in response to my filing grievances for the retaliation by L/L staff & supervisors as well (in the grievance(s)) as H/W Richardson and the handing of the 14 page memorandum to H/W Richardson.

Coincidentally, the next day my cell was on the "routine" cell search list by the rover C.O. Then(!) later that same day (Aug 18), Safe Prisons came & did yet another cell search on the cell I am housed in - "coincidentally".

As I (& my cellie) keep virtually no contraband, I anticipate a minor case at best (worst(?)).

Before this turn of events I was "only considering" filing a tort claim of retaliation & breach of obligatory responsibility to my safety & well being under color of state law. Now, they have, frankly, pissed me off. Therefore the consideration is now a mission.

I have never filed a state civil proceedings material. Regretfully, I am now, once again, forced to redirect my attention away from my state writ of habeas corpus to attend to this violation of my state & federal constitutional rights. I do not get intimidated; I get motivated to learn more in how to defend myself in the judicial system from the deviations from established rules by those who abuse their authority and bestowed power.

[Abuse] [McConnell Unit] [Texas]

Dangerous water in Texas

TDCJ has posted a boil water notice on this facility McConnell Unit date of 1 Aug 2017 by a Gary Pendarvis – maintenance supervisory phone 361-362-2300. It said there is harmful bacteria and other microbes in the water. We inmates are told to boil water or buy bottled water. However Texas Department of Criminal Injustice does not boil nor provide a way for inmates to boil water we drink daily a life necessity, an 8th amendment constitutional violation. Nor does TDCJ give prisoners money for free labor jobs to buy water. We get good time parole credits but when you come up they set off!

[Abuse] [Medical Care] [Mental Health] [Theory] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 57]

Disabilities and Anti-Imperialism

disability in prison

[Co-authored with PTT of MIM(Prisons)]

Nowhere is the necessity for the societal advancement to communism more apparent than in the realm of disability considerations. No segment of society, imprisoned or otherwise, is in greater need of the guiding communist ethos proclaimed by Marx: "From each according to their ability, to each according to their need." This humynist principle applies to no demographic more than the disabled.

When communist society is realized, the intrinsic worth of each and every persyn and their potential to contribute to society will be realized as well. In return, communist society will reward the disabled population by adequately providing their essentials and rendering all aspects of society open and accessible for their full utilization. In a phrase, communism will respect the disabled persyn's humyn right to a humane existence. We communists strive for the elimination of power structures that allow the oppression of people by people. The disabled population, as well as all peoples that have hystorically been subjugated by the oppressive bourgeois system of capitalism/imperialism, can then work toward the implementation of a truly democratic society.

Considering MIM(Prisons) recognizes only three strands of oppression in the world today (nation, class and gender), able-bodiedness is a cause and consequence of class, and in countries with more leisure-time it is intimately tied up in the gender strand of oppression. This essay intends to analyze disability as it relates to class, gender, and the prison environment.

Disability and Class

In the United $tates the greatest source of persynal wealth is inheritance. It can be said the ability to create and maintain able-bodiedness may be inherited also. For the most part, class station is determined by birth. By virtue of to whom and where a persyn is born, their access, or lack thereof, to material resources is ascribed. The bourgeoisie and labor aristocracy have access to nutrition and healthcare the First World lumpen and international proletariat and peasantry do not. The likelihood of a positive health background renders the labor aristocracy and other bourgeois classes attractive prospects to potential employers, lenders, etc. This allows them to continue to enjoy nutrition and healthcare not common to the lumpen, proletariat, and peasantry.

It would be extremely uncommon to find a First World lumpen, an international proletarian, or a peasant with a membership to a health and fitness club. This privilege is reserved for the bourgeois classes, including the petty-bourgeoisie and its subclass the labor aristocracy. This, of course, further enhances the prospect of maintaining good health, and compounded with employer-supplied healthcare, does act as prophylaxis against the onset of debilitating and degenerative physical ailments.

It would be unreasonable to ignore the possibility that a member of the bourgeoisie might be genetically infirm, or a labor aristocrat debilitated by an accident. But, due to their class position, these classes are better prepared and equipped to minimize the adversities resulting from such an unfortunate occurrence.

Able-bodiedness may also affect upward class mobility. An able-bodied First World lumpen that can find employment might enter the ranks of the labor aristocracy. A blue collar labor aristocrat may be promoted to a managerial position, and so forth. Of course other factors, such as national background, do play a role in one's mobility (or stagnation for that matter), but disability also plays a significant role.

Disability and Gender

Gender only comes to the fore after life's essentials are secured, thereby standing out in relief on its own aside from class/nation. In the First World leisure-time plays a major role in gender analysis. MIM(Prisons) defines "gender" as:

"One of three strands of oppression, the other two being class and nation. Gender can be thought of as socially-defined attributes related to one's sex organs and physiology. Patriarchy has led to the splitting of society into an oppressed (wimmin) and oppressor gender (men).
"Historically reproductive status was very important to gender, but today the dynamics of leisure-time and humyn biological development are the material basis of gender. For example, children are the oppressed gender regardless of genitalia, as they face the bulk of sexual oppression independent of class and national oppression.
"People of biologically superior health-status are better workers, and that's a class thing, but if they have leisure-time, they are also better sexually privileged. We might think of models or prostitutes, but professional athletes of any kind also walk this fine line. ... Older and disabled people as well as the very sick are at a disadvantage, not just at work but in leisure-time. ..." - MIM(Prisons) Glossary

This system of gender oppression is commonly referred to as "patriarchy," which MIM(Prisons) defines as:

"the manifestation and institutionalization of male dominance over wimmin and children in the family and the extension of male dominance over wimmin in society in general; it implies that men hold power in all the important institutions of society and that wimmin are deprived of access to such power."(1)

Professor bell hooks's description of patriarchy in eir work The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love has also contributed to this author's understanding of gender oppression:

"Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence."(2)

Professor hooks's definition of patriarchy not only recognizes terrorism as a patriarchal mechanism, but that patriarchal forces do not intend only to oppress, dominate, and subjugate females or even just females and children, but patriarchy's pathology is to hold down anything it regards as weaker than itself. Patriarchy is a bully.

Children are one of the most stigmatized and oppressed groups of people in the world. Patriarchal society considers children physically disabled due to their undeveloped bodies and therefore susceptible to patriarchal oppression — regardless of the biology of the child. This firmly places children in the gender oppressed stratum. Due to disabled people's diminished bodies (and/or cognizance), disabled people can be categorized similar to children subjected to patriarchy, ergo, disability falls into the gender oppression stratum as well as class.

Patriarchy and Prisons

U.$. prisons are, from top to bottom, patriarchal structures. Prisons are institutions where the police, the judiciary, and militarization have crystalized as paternalistic enforcer of bureaucracies of patriarchy; prisons, the system of political, social, cultural and economic restraint and control, are fundamentally patriarchal institutions implemented to enforce the status quo — including patriarchal domination. Disabled prisoners in Texas have long been labeled "broke dicks," illustrative of their "less-than-a-man" status in the prison pecking order.

There are laws mandating disabled prisoners not be precluded from recreational activities, or any other prison activity for that matter. Yet enforcement of these laws are prohibitively difficult for disabled prisoners, especially prisoners with vision or hearing disabilities, or cognitive impairments. The disabled have few advocates in bourgeois society; they have virtually none in prison.

The likelihood that prison officials discriminate against and abuse disabled prisoners is readily apparent. What is most disheartening is able-bodied prisoners are often the perpetrators of mistreatment against disabled prisoners, frequently at the behest of prison administrators so as to procure favorable treatment. In fact, the most telling aspect of the conditions of confinement imposed on disabled prisoners is the abuse of the disabled prisoners at the hands of able-bodied prisoners. The able-bodied prisoners are quick to manhandle and overrun disabled prisoners in obtaining essential prison services which are commonly inadequate and limited. When queued up for meals, showers, commissary, etc. the able-bodied prisoners will shove and elbow aside disabled prisoners; will threaten to assult disabled prisoners; and have in fact assaulted disabled prisoners should they complain or protest being accosted in such a fashion. All this invariably with the knowledge and/or before the very eyes of prison administrators and personnel.

It is far too common for the victims of sexual harassment and assault in prisons to be gay, transgendered, and/or disabled. Whether the perpetrator be prison officials or fellow prisoners, this practice is condoned by the culture of patriarchy and the hyper-masculine prison environment.

In the Prison Justice League's (PJL) report to the U.$. Department of Justice titled "Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Use of Excessive Force at Estelle Unit" the PJL outlined the routine and systematic abuse of disabled prisoners by prison personnel at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Regional Medical Facility for the Southern Region, Estelle Unit.(3) Prisoners assigned to the Estelle Unit per their disabilities are regularly and habitually denied medical treatment for their disabilities, ergo oftentimes exacerbating the causes and effects of the disabilities which brought them to Estelle initially; are denied auxiliary aids so as to accommodate their disabilities as required by law; are physically assaulted by prison administrators and staff, or their inmate henchmen; and with egregious frequency are murdered at the hands of state officials.

Since the PJL's report and subsequent Department of Justice investigation, there has been a bit of a detente in the abuse visited upon disabled Estelle prisoners by prison personnel. But the pigz are barely restrained. Threats of physical violence directed at disabled prisoners are still a regular daily occurrence, and prison personnel assaults on disabled prisoners are still far too common.

Another recent example of the persistent difficulties disabled prisoners face, even with the courts on their side, can be seen in the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) recent settlement negotiated with the Montana Department of Corrections (MDC), after it neglected to fulfill Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements from a 1995 settlement, Langford v. Bullock. In 2005, the ADA requirements were still not met, and despite the Circuit Court's order requiring Montana to comply with the 1995 settlement, it is not until 2017, and much advocacy later, that negotiations are being finalized between the ACLU and MDC. We can't dismantle systems of gender oppression one quarter-century-long lawsuit at a time. That's why MIM(Prisons) advocates for a complete overthrow of patriarchal capitalism-imperialism as soon as possible.

Another patriarchal aspect to be observed in prisons is ageism. As children are included in the gender-oppressed stratum, so should the aged. As the able-bodied prisoners' ability to work subsides due to age in the First World, especially in the United $tates where the welfare state is minuscule and the social safety net set very low, the propensity for a once able-bodied persyn to be relegated to the ranks of the lumpen is intensified. As the once able-bodied persyn becomes aged and disabled, their physical, as well as mental, health becomes more and more jeopardized, accelerating the degeneration of existing disabilities as well as increasing the likelihood of creating the onset of new ones (e.g. the First World lumpen are notorious for developing diabetes due to poor diet and lifestyle issues).

Disability as a Means of Castration

Holding people in locked cages is an acute form of social control. Solitary confinement creates long-lasting psychological damage. And prison conditions in general are designed (by omission) to create long-lasting physical damage to oppressed populations. Prisons are a tool of social control, and exacerbating/creating disabilities is a way prisons carry this through in a long-term and multi-generational fashion.

Prisoners, who are a majority lumpen population, are likely to already have unmet medical needs before entering prison, as described above in the section on class. Then when in prison, these medical needs are exacerbated because of the bad environment (toxic water, exposed asbestos, run down facilities, etc.); brutality from guards and fellow prisoners; poor medical care including untreated physical traumas, improper timing for medications (see article on diabetes), and just straight up neglect.

Mumia Abu-Jamal's battle to receive treatment for hepatitis C, which ey contracted from a tainted blood transfusion ey received after being shot by police in 1981, is a case in point. Mumia belongs to an oppressed nation, is conscious of this oppression, has fought against this oppression, and thus is last on the priority list for who the state of Pennsylvania will give resources to. And medical care under capitalism is sold to the highest bidder, with new drugs which are 90% effective in curing hepatitis C coming with a price tag of $1,000 per day. In a communist society these life-saving drugs will be free to all who need them.

Disability in the Anti-Imperialist Movement

The fact that people with disabilities will be treated better after we take down capitalism is obvious. Our stance on discrimination against people with disabilities in our society today is obvious. What is less obvious is the question of how we can incorporate people with disabilities into the anti-imperialist movement today, while we are so small and relatively weak compared to the enemy that surrounds us. This is an ongoing question for revolutionaries, who are always pushing themselves to be stronger, better, and more productive. After all, there is an urgency to our work.

Our militancy tends to be inherently ableist. With all the distractions and requirements of living in this bourgeois society, we have precious little time to devote to revolutionary work. We are always on the lookout for things and people that are holding us back and wasting our time, and we work diligently to weed these things and people from our lives and movement. Often when people aren't productive enough, due to mental or physical consequences of capitalism and national oppression, we can't do anything to help them — especially through the mail. No matter how sympathetic people are to our politics, and how much they want to contribute, we just don't have the resources to provide care that would help these folks give more to overthrowing imperialism. Often times all we can do is use these anecdotes to add fuel to our fire.

Disabilities amongst oppressed people are intentionally created by the state, and a natural consequence of capitalism. If we don't take any time to work with and around our allies' disabilities, then we are excluding a population of people who, like the introduction says above, are in the greatest need of a shift toward communism. We aim to have independent institutions of the oppressed which can help people overcome some of these barriers to political work. At this time, however, the state is doing more to weaken our movement in this regard than we are able to do to strengthen it.

[Of note, the primary author of this article has devoted eir life to revolutionary organizing in spite of being imprisoned and with multiple physical disabilities. Even though it is extremely difficult to contribute, it is possible!]

1. From MIM(Prisons) Glossary, Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy, Oxford University Press, 1987, p.239 Appendix.
2. bell hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, Washington Square Press, 2004, p. 18.
3. Erica Gammill & Kate Spear, Cruel & Unusual Punishment: Excessive Use of Force at the Estelle Unit, Prison Justice League, 2015.
[Abuse] [Wynne Unit] [Texas]

Heat Reality

If you would, please inform the Texas Civil Rights Project that Ken Paxton Lieutenant Governor is telling lies by the ton about what Texa$ and TDCJ are doing to alleviate the heat injury/deaths problems. All they've done is the very bare minimum to comply with the courts' directives. Our "respite" areas here on the Wynne Unit only receive cooling when high level visitors are here or during an ACA audit. During the summer all these fans do is circulate hot air. It's like living in a convection oven on this whole unit, unless of course you're any kind of rank and have an office, or you are a Warden of course. :)

Also the $100 medical co-pay information is still posted in the clinic and I understand people are still being stolen from by medical.

Thank you for your updated Texas Packet - June 2017. And thank you for all you're doing to help us and empower us in our struggle against the system's oppression and repression.

[Abuse] [Control Units] [Eastham Unit] [Texas]

Use of Gas in Eastham

9 May 2017 — There was a chemical agent attack on E-Line at the Eastham Unit, located in Lovelady, Texas. One of our comraes from United Struggle from Within (USW) filed a Step 1 Grievance and had a free-world friend submit an Ombudsman complaint on eir behalf.

An assistant warden B. Johnson at the Eastham Unit answered the Step 1 and failed to acknowledge the reckless and abusive use of the chemical agent.

Lieutenant Lisa Hibbard was the employee who deployed 2 canisters of CS Gas, whose contents entered the building of E-Line and subjected numerous prisoners to this volatile chemical agent. E-Line is an Ad-Seg wing so there was absolutely no escaping the gas. This particular gas (CS) is LETHAL when used in high concentrations and when ventilation is limited.

The "cover-up" is in full effect on Eastham Unit. Univerity of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) staff made absolutely no attempt to check on the status of prisoners on E-Line who were exposed to the gas.

When it comes to medical neglect or the wanton abuse of Texas prisoners, all too many times UTMB is a willing partner with TDCJ employees. It is important to shed light on these events because TDCJ has erected a wall between the public and what actually takes place inside these slave kamps and gulags.

Military-grade weapons such as this CS gas should not be used on incarcerated prisoners. The humyn rights abuses in Texas prisons are not being addressed.

[Legal] [Texas]

Hard work pays off in Texas

Well I wanted to give you guys an update. Since I receive your grievance packet 3 weeks ago I have started gathering up the Texas admin. codes that are the minimum requirements set for by the Texas commission on jail standards. Since the county jail I am being held in does not have a law library I have been writing to every library in the state of Texas and requesting chapter by chapter the codes. It has been a long endeavor but is paying off. Since I now have the rules that this jail must play by I can write my grievances with codes to go along with the complaints. Also I can pass the information on to others that are wanting to make a difference. Since I started two weeks ago I have been moved 4 times, and they tried to give me to false cases that have been dropped. It is nice to be able to see that yes hard work pays off even when everything is taken away or restriction. I will keep you updated as this battle continues.

[Abuse] [Eastham Unit] [Texas]

Eastham assaulting prisoners, losing paperwork

I am writing to let you all know that at Eastham unit there are episodes of the K-2 epidemic. One person falls out we get locked down for 24 hours. Just one line. Its not in the rule book or disciplinary books, they lock you up for nothing, especially if you can't snitch on someone.

A Lt beat me up last year, I wrote it up and my step 1 disappeared so I could not write a step 2. Also I sent my copies of everything to Huntsville, TX they sent my stuff back saying they don't want any problems or complaints sent to them, when I got the paperwork back I was missing my medical report.

They wrote me an attempted assault on officer. When I got my time sheet they changed it to an assault on officer said it was the same thing, I still have the original case. I'm writing to ask for a Texas Pack. They took mine when they shook me down. My legal work was scattered all around and only my legal folder was gone through. I had my other papers in another folder. I get tired of retaliation and can't do nothing about it.

Eastham is out of control, cussing us out all day long. We report it or write it up. Comes back with no proof and that we lie. The guards and rank work together.

[Abuse] [Gib Lewis Unit] [Texas]

Brutality prevents prisoner transformation behind bars

We are not correcting bad or criminal behavior, we are not reforming lives or serving justice. We are struggling to get public attention drawn to this torture. I've witnessed a guard provoke a prisoner verbally, and taunt him until he had a reaction, which was then used as an excuse to assault the prisoner, claiming the prisoner acted aggressively. Implicit in nearly every interaction with the guards is the potential, the threat, of violence; every breath is a potential disciplinary infraction, or write-up. Many rules are either unknown or go unenforced, making for a milieu where a guard could enter, quite literally, any cell and find a reason to write up its inhabitant. If you have more than three books at any given time, it could be a write-up, or you put a picture of your family on or in your locker, or hang wet clothes up to dry. Almost anything can be considered non-dangerous contraband. Any guard has the power to keep a prisoners from seeing or talking to his family, a power frequently abused.

This kind of control is maddening. For the individuals who live under its influence; any refusal to comply with these instruments of violence – any lack of submission – can be met with a can of mace followed by beatings, while in restraints, and time in segregation. Meeting violent offenders with more violence, along with mental and physical torture is not an effective method of reform. It will only make the prisoners more fluent in the language of violence. And they are frequently angry, bitter and full of resentment.

I have filed grievances challenging this violation of the First Amendment and also the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments due to these prisoncrats stripping me and others of all personal property, denying access to the law library or outside recreation, and deliberately abusing grievance procedure by refusing to process any grievance that is submitted. So we ask that eyes and ears be placed upon this place because there are those offenders ready to force these prisoncrats to remove us from these cruel and inhuman conditions.

These deplorable conditions create an environment that often feels helpless and insurmountable to the prisoners who live through it. We are being oppressed and controlled, mistreated and abused on a daily basis. Some offenders have no means of addressing these abuses – even the grievance procedure is hopelessly flawed, not permitting the offenders to grieve the conduct of the guards, or any procedure whatsoever. They recognize that they are being subjected to conditions that surpass more punishment for their crimes. The parole board isn't actually there to help us obtain our freedom, it's there to give the illusion that it is possible, so that we may be controlled. The few that are successful will emerge as scarred, changed men, living with the knowledge and pain of what they were forced to endure, and the daily suffering that continues by the people they left behind.

On May 28 of this year a fellow inmate as well as myself were brutally beaten in handcuffs and sprayed multiple times with chemical agents off of the camera by officers, sergeants, and a Lt on this Gib Lewis Unit in Woodville, TX. Here on this unit these beatings by officers are the norm for us inmates. Most of us have little to no family support to help us voice these cruel acts of injustice to the public. We are here for rehabilitation and transformation not to be beaten to the point of traumatization. We need the public to know that the real criminals are working amongst criminal and breaking laws, rules, etc on the daily and hiding behind their uniform and rank. Assist us in this struggle for justice.