Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Texas Prisons

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out

www.prisoncensorship.info 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.

Allred Unit (Iowa Park)

Beto I Unit (Tennessee Colony)

Bexar County Jail (San Antonio)

Bill Clements Unit (Amarillo)

Billy Moore Correctional Center (Overton)

Bowie County Correctional Center (Texarkana)

Boyd Unit (Teague)

Cameron County Detention Center (Olmito)

Choice Moore Unit (Bonham)

Clemens Unit (Brazoria)

Coffield Unit (Tennessee Colony)

Connally Unit (Kenedy)

Cotulla Unit (Cotulla)

Dalhart Unit (Dalhart)

Daniel Unit (Snyder)

Darrington Unit (Rosharon)

Dominguez State Jail (San Antonio)

Eastham Unit (Lovelady)

Ellis Unit (Huntsville)

Estelle 2 (Huntsville)

Estelle High Security Unit (Huntsville)

Ferguson Unit (Midway)

Formby Unit (Plainview)

Garza East Unit (Beeville)

Gib Lewis Unit (Woodville)

Hamilton Unit (Bryan)

Harris County Jail Facility (Houston)

Hightower Unit (Dayton)

Hobby Unit (Marlin)

Hughes Unit (Gatesville)

Huntsville (Huntsville)

Jester III Unit (Richmond)

John R Lindsey State Jail (Jacksboro)

Jordan Unit (Pampa)

Lane Murray Unit (Gatesville)

Larry Gist State Jail (Beaumont)

LeBlanc Unit (Beaumont)

Lopez State Jail (Edinburg)

Luther Unit (Navasota)

Lychner Unit (Humble)

Lynaugh Unit (Ft Stockton)

McConnell Unit (Beeville)

Michael Unit (Tennessee Colony)

Middleton Unit (Abilene)

Montford Unit (Lubbock)

Mountain View Unit (Gatesville)

Neal Unit (Amarillo)

Pack Unit (Novasota)

Polunsky Unit (Livingston)

Powledge Unit (Palestine)

Ramsey I Unit (Rosharon)

Ramsey III Unit (Rosharon)

Robertson Unit (Abilene)

Rufus Duncan TF (Diboll)

Sanders Estes CCA (Venus)

Smith County Jail (Tyler)

Smith Unit (Lamesa)

Stevenson Unit (Cuero)

Stiles Unit (Beaumont)

Stringfellow Unit (Rosharon)

Telford Unit (New Boston)

Terrell Unit (Rosharon)

Torres Unit (Hondo)

Travis State Jail (Austin)

Vance Unit (Richmond)

Victoria County Jail (Victoria)

Wallace Unit (Colorado City)

Wayne Scott Unit (Angleton)

Wynne Unit (Huntsville)

Young Medical Facility Complex (Dickinson)

[Abuse] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas]
expand

Many Abuses at Ferguson Unit

Below is a description of many problems at Ferguson Unit:

  1. segregation and gang violence
  2. illiteracy
  3. drug addiction
  4. obstruction of grievance process
  5. arbitrary parole denial and obstruction of parole process
  6. pre-release units used to house paroled prisoners long-term
  7. censorship of legal mail
  8. denial of outside recreation
  9. lack of clean or adequate clothing
  10. undersized meals
  11. inadequate law library and court system

The problems in Texas jails are endless. Everybody either has a problem, doesn't care, is scared, gave up, or there's not enough prisoners who care to make a difference. First off, we are still dealing with race issues. Inmates against other inmates. Units are still blacks on one side, Spanish on the other and whites get in where you can, and a lot of them be friends with the Mexican side. If a white or Spanish inmate be on the black side, he is in a black gang. Then gangs are our second problem. Every race color group are against the other race gang. There are about nine different black gangs, about five different Mexican gangs, three white gangs, and so our problems in these two areas are endless. People only listen to their own race or gang.

Another major problem we prisoners are facing that I keep finding out is a lot of us can't read or write that well. Without being able to read or write, they can't file grievances or lawsuits. It is hard to help because a lot of peoples are not going to tell you they have this problem.

Now it is sad to say but we have a lot of prisoners who are dope addicts. All day long they want to get high, walking around here like zombies. They are smoking on what they call "K-2," but this is some homegrown spray chemicals they are putting on what it appear to be sticks and grass. This drug is being called Toon. It is spreading across Texas prisons like crazy. I seen people vomit, sell their body, sell everything they got, steal and fight other inmates when they are high and/or want to be high. Toon is the new craze because you can be high all day long by inhaling two short puffs. People also smoke it because their urine will not come up dirty.

Anyone who writes a grievance knows the warden who answers them is always biased against prisoners. 95% of the Step 1 responses always say the same thing ("insufficient evidence") and the problems do not get addressed. No prisoners are getting questioned if they saw what had happened which was reported in the grievance. The Warden will claim he talked to the officer and the officer said he did not do what he is accused of. The Step 2 responses will always side with whatever the warden said on the Step 1.

Before I forget, a never ending problem we are facing is parole. Parole is the biggest joke in Texas. When I was sentenced to TDCJ the judge said "I sentence you to 60 years TDCJ." Your work time, good time, and school time must add up to your halfway sentence (30 years), just to see parole. Now TDCJ says a whole new thing than what the judge told me and from what the statute states. TDCJ tells me if I want to make parole, I have to do 30 years flat; work time, school time, and good time will be calculated toward your full sentence. In reality I have over half my sentence done on paper and am supposed to be up for parole, but the parole board does not go by the Texas legislature.

I know an inmate who had a 30-year sentence for aggravated robbery. His case is considered a 3G offense due to the fact that a weapon was used, so he will have to do half his sentence just to see parole. In reality, if his work time, good time, and school time equals his halfway mark, he is supposed to see parole. He got 22 years flat time done on his 30-year sentence. He got two associate degrees and was working on a masters degree. The reason he did not make his first parole, when he did 15 years flat was due to "the nature of his offense." Now, you know and I know the nature of your offense does not and cannot change. It is your initial conviction.

TDCJ parole board called the person he robbed 15 years ago and asked, "The person who robbed you is up for parole, how do you feel about that? Do you want to deny his parole? If you do not have a ride, we will come and pick you up and you can speak at his parole hearing." Of course the person he robbed didn't want this brother to be released.

His second chance at parole was denied for the same reason. His third denial was was because the parole board stated, he "manipulated" the system. He was not getting any cases. When you stay out of trouble, they think you are getting over on them, so you must be doing something you're not supposed to be doing. His fourth denial was because he was a "suspected gang member." The parole board plays these types of games with the prisoners in Texas. They will come up with any and all kind of reasons to deny you release. When we do make parole we do at least 90% of our time. We end up serving 8 or 9.5 years flat on a 10-year sentence, or 18, 19, 19.5 years on a 20.

If the public looks on the computer, you can see the people who make parole are not actually at home, but in reality are held at a pre-release unit. On paper they are at their house but they really not. Texas just making more money from prisoners at these pre-release units. I had a homeboy gave all his belongings away because he made parole. He thought he was going home. He went to a pre-release unit for 2 years, and then they took his parole away from him and sent him back to the Ferguson Unit to do the rest of his time. At the pre-release unit, the computer had it that he made parole and went home.

Another problem is the mailrooms are taking it upon themselves to tell you what you can and can't have. They are censoring too much mail. They are denying anything they feel you should not have. They are opening up sealed legal mail and reading it. They are denying legal materials.

We are required outside recreation for 2 hours every day for 5 days a week. Ferguson Unit refuses to run outside recreation. The officers are writing down in the rec log that they run outside rec every day when in reality they are not. We can't get any sun on our skin.

We only have one set of clothes. You have to turn them all in just to get another set. We are required to have two sets. The problem with one set of clothes is, when you turn your only set in, in return they will give you a set of pants that may have holes in it, paint stains on the front or on the back. The shirts will be the same way. Then they want you to go to visit to see your family like this. If you're going to take a picture, you are out of there.

Another problem is how they feed us. We are not getting our daily 2000 calorie intake. The serving spoons are not be the right sizes and they water everything down. They only give you enough food to make it to the next meal.

Another major problem is the law library. They took away all the major books that you can use to help yourself fight your case effectively. They took the Texas constitution away, the CSS: Covous Juris Secundum, Texas Civil Statutes, property code and many more. They do not have a book on how to do a writ. Now how are you suppose to file a writ, when you do not have a sample to go on? They also do not have a motion book, criminal or civil. How do you know what to file or how to go about it? All the books they do have are outdated. They will only go so far back on the computer to let you read a case. When you shepardize a case, they will send you all over to something you did not ask for. They refuse to let you see any bills and acts and will tell you they can't get that for you.

On the unit I'm in, they only run two law library sessions a day. One at 3:45 a.m. and another at 11:45 a.m. Only certain people will be put in at 11:45 a.m. while the majority will be scheduled at 3:45 a.m. Why at 3:45 a.m.? Because they know nobody wants to go at that time, so a lot of people just don't show up. If you look at the law library schedule, it will say it runs sessions for 3:45 a.m., 6:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4:45p.m. but they're just not going by the schedule.

Another major problem is the court system. I remember writing the district clerk in my county asking about my case and/or obtaining legal documents. He wrote me back stating he does not have to respond to prisoners because we are locked up and that if I want to hear from him I will have an attorney speak to him for me. He wrote down a Texas government code that states the same thing. I wrote him back explaining to him that I can't afford an attorney and that I'm fighting my case pro se. He wrote me back and still stated the same thing.

The fun never stops for a Texas inmate.

chain
[Religious Repression] [Hamilton Unit] [Texas]
expand

Undermining Religious Freedoms

As of 1 August 2015, Texas is allowing offenders to grow a "religious" beard. I am assuming they lost a lawsuit. I'm certain it's not out of the kindness of their hearts. However, when I put in a request to start the process of being able to grow a beard I was told I could not work in the front office. I have been the officers' barber pretty much on every unit I have been assigned to. The people in charge gave me a chance to take my name off the beard list. I told them no thanks and I was promptly placed on field squad and my housing was changed. The chaplain at our unit also will not allow offenders to work for him or be on church set up crew if growing a religious beard. The chaplain himself has a mustache. I was also told I did not have approval from the warden to go off-unit with a beard. I am a G1-S2 custody level (outside trustee) and have been for 2 1/2 years. More craziness and oppression in Texas.

chain
[Medical Care] [Stringfellow Unit] [Texas]
expand

Texas Cuts Prisoners' Medication to Save Money

Here on Springfellow Unit several issues are occurring that need to be addressed. Disciplinary is out of control! On this unit due process means absolutely nothing when it concerns officers writing disciplinary cases against prisoners. There are numerous bogus disciplinary cases written, and that is why there is no due process. According to the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures for Offenders Handbook, officers shall first attempt to resolve the issue informally. This is never done here on the Springfellow Unit. When I personally pulled out the rule book and showed one of the officers the proper due process, the officer tried to confiscate my copy of the rules. Even the Major and Captain questioned me on where I received this handbook.

The medical department's Physician's Assistant (P.A.) has a long history of not only removing prisoners' medical restrictions that are supposed to be permanent due to chronic illness, but they also are cutting prisoners' medications by 2/3 in order to save money. I was told personally by P.A. Patricia M. Lecuyer that it's due to the cost of the medication. Naturally this means that they are putting cost over properly caring for the prisoners. The reason their high cost of medication is so far up is due to the $100 co-payment. Prisoners who are charged the co-payment for something as simple as receiving Cold Busters (which by the way happens so often) are submitting more and more sick call requests for everything you can think of just to make sure they're getting a hundred bucks worth of whatever they can. Indigent prisoners are doing this because they can receive medication without having to pay the co-payment, and then selling the medication to other prisoners who do not want to pay the co-payment for something as simple as the common cold. Due to all this, those like me who really need the medications to manage my respiratory system (i.e. COPD) and high blood pressure are being reduced by 2/3 the amount of medication.

chain
[Organizing] [Texas] [ULK Issue 46]
expand

Plan of Attack on Texas Hiding Grievance Manual

TDCJ Pig
To the comrade who submitted the article "Texas Hides Grievance Manual" on a memo by Access to Courts Supervisor Frank Hoke, take these words of wisdom.

The grievance procedure was certified by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and Southern District of Texas in 1989. In 1999 the Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ) and Agency officials approved the Offender Grievance Operations Manual (OGOM) and screening criteria. Pursuant to Board Policy (BP) 03.77,

"The resolution support manager shall establish and maintain the Offender Grievance Operations Manual (OGOM) to provide guidance to employees regarding the offender grievance procedure. ... Instructions on how to use the offender grievance procedure shall be established separately from the OGOM for distribution to offenders and employees. Provisions for training, education, and implementation of the offender grievance procedure shall be established in AD-03.82, 'Management of Offender Grievances' and the OGOM." Signed by Oliver J. Bell, Chairman TBCJ

Note the last part in BP-03.77 "shall be established in AD-03.82." In AD-03.82, the Resolution Support Manager is responsible for oversight of access to courts, offender grievance and Ombudsman. Section I of AD-03.82 establishes the set criterion of emergency and specialty grievance. Furthermore, AD-03.82 Section IV A states: "Copies of BP-03.77 ... and this directive, as well as instructions on how to use the offender grievance procedure shall be available at each unit, to include copies in the law library." AD-03.82 Section VI A states: "The resolution support manager shall direct, administer, supervise, and manage the implementation and operation of the offender grievance procedure without interference by any employee."

The memo you described was not issued by Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ). So it is null and void, being it amends AD-03.82 and BP-03.77. On Page 1 Chapter II of the OGOM titled "Authority" it states: "AD-03.82 'Management of Offender Grievances'. Establishes agency expectations and the fundamental groundwork for the effective operation of the Offender Grievance Program. The administrative directive is more specific than board policy and supports the grievance process by providing a basis for the offender grievance operations manual."

Notice that the Access to Courts is not the agency that is responsible or authorized to make policy or amendments to policy or revisions. The Access to Courts is violating the Liberty Interest Protections in AD-03.82, being that Frank Hoke is not authorized to amend oversight policy or the OGOM. These revisions unauthorized by Oliver J. Bell have not been tested for constitutionality and changes AD-03.82 in violation of Texas law and Texas constitution articles 1, 13, and 17. Please read the article titled "Right to Assist others with Legal Work" in ULK 42 and you will see why they are doing this. Law library staff violate privacy rights, copying letters, which they send to Access to Courts for review. An Access to Courts violation has occurred which impedes, hinders or denies these rights. There has been no change in AD-03.82 or BP-03.77. Hoke's memo will only go in effect if we allow it. This is an unauthorized confiscation of OGOM without reason of safety or security justification. See Corby v. Conboy, 457 F2d 251 (1972). Always keep the pigs within the "pen," or they will eat up your rights and liberty and defecate corruption, that will abolish the smell of peace, and make the path of unity impossible to walk.


MIM(Prisons) responds: The knowledge of the invalidity of this practice within Texas prisons is certainly something we can use in our fight to remedy this repression. Prisoners in Texas should take the information above and apply it to their struggle to get the grievance manual put back into facility law libraries across the state. If someone puts together a sample grievance, petition, or other organizing tool then we can distribute it as part of our Texas Activist Pack.

But we also know that just because something is illegal or invalid doesn't mean that the state will ever actually be held accountable, or be made to follow law. This is evidenced in prisons all across the country, and on a broader scale by the illegal settlement of Palestine by I$rael and the many illegal atrocities committed by the United $tates and imperialist corporations all across the world. Those with power will do whatever suits their interests. A grievance campaign might help us win small victories. But we can't be deluded into thinking that if we just point out to them that they are breaking the law they will change their behavior.

Mumia Abu-Jamal explains this well in the book Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A. In the Preface, Mumia hammers home the point that law is what a judge decides in the moment; that they make it up as they go along. In a discussion about what makes jailhouse lawyers go crazy, Delbert Africa explains to Mumia,

"It drives they ass crazy 'cuz they cain't handle the fact that the System just make and break they laws as it see fit! How many treaties they done signed with the Indians? Ain't a one of 'em they done kept! Some of 'em broke 'em befo' the ink was dry on 'em old treaties! Them the same folks who run this System today! If they couldn't keep a treaty with Indians when they first got here, what make you think they gonna keep they so-called law today, especially when it come to me and you, man?"

Mumia pushed Africa to explain further why this makes jailhouse lawyers go crazy, and Africa responded,

"They go crazy becuz, Mu, they really believe in the System, and this System always betray those that believe in it! That's what drive them out of they minds, man. They cain't handle that. It literally drives them out they mind. I see 'em around here, walkin' 'round here dazed, crazy as a bedbug!"

Mumia follows this conversation with an anecdote about a jailhouse lawyer he knew from death row who insisted his appeal would be granted because his argument was so "black and white" that the judge "gotta" go for it. But as Mumia explained to this brother,

"They do what they wanna do, man! Just 'cuz it says something in one case, they don't have to go by that case, man. I agree with you, that you got a damn good argument — and you should prevail — but I don't go for that 'gotta' rap!"

While we want to hold our oppressors publicly accountable as much as we can, these struggles are more about highlighting inadequacies of the injustice system and agitating for others to join our struggle against capitalism and imperialism. When we do win a legal battle, we take it as an opportunity to build space for more revolutionary organizing. We ultimately need to wage a protracted, long-term struggle (that eventually will be an armed struggle) against this oppressive legal and economic system under which we attempt to live. In the meantime, we agree with Mumia that "the law ain't nothing but whatta judge say the law is."

chain
[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Medical Care] [Clemens Unit] [Texas]
expand

Clemens Unit Complaints

Grievance Petition Update


I have been filing numerous grievances since I last wrote in. I also used the grievance petition to my advantage. Below is an update of people I have contacted about the grievance petition, when, and the result.

I received a memo from the TDCJ Ombudsman office after mailing a petition to Governor Greg Abbotts's office 13 April 2015 stating "Your correspondence was forwarded to this office by the office of the Governor. The Governor's office does not respond to prisoner complaints or requests."

I wrote to...
... Scott Medlock of the Texas Civil Rights Project at his new address. It is 1101 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702. I wrote to him on 19 May 2015, and have not received any response.
... Senator Jean Huffman on 23 February 2015, with no response.
... FBI Houston 15 June 2015, with no response.
... Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on 26 May 2015, with no response.
... Region 3 Director Leonard Echessa on 3 July 2015.

I would like to receive 50 petitions so that I can mail to district attorneys in the surrounding counties. I took it upon myself to participate in this campaign because there needs to be accountability.

Obstruction of Grievance Process

CO II Okonknoo called me a "troublemaker" and made a comment stating something like "I have received a lot of grievances [on my misconduct]. The grievances help promote me. Every grievance that is written on me states that I am doing my job. Let me do my job."

Grievance Investigator II Anna Rodriguez fails to answer questions in regard to grievance numbers. She asks me why I need these numbers, and states that she doesn't know the pigs who receive the Step 2 grievances in Huntsville, Texas.

Every Step 2 medical grievance sent comes back with a rubber stamp. Myra Walker was usually the one that signs off on step 2 medical grievances.

Rat and Roach Infestation, Rotten Food

I live in a dorm with 53 other comrades where rats tear up soups in lockers, and roaches are all over. Comrades leave cups and spoons all over the floor. The dishwasher is always messed up. Therefore we comrades get dirty spoons, cups, and plates.

They undercook food. I can't even eat greasy food in prison like I used to: chili, mac, beef noodle casserole. Most of it is pork. The diet for health trays contains pork. We are eating bananas and cucumbers, some of which are rotten.

Unkept Facilities and Supplies

I have been constantly sneezing and coughing up mucus. It is overly dusty here. Urinals and plumbing is filthy rotten. There are shower heads that are out. I press some of them and every now and then they work. They need maintenance. Maintenance never comes in to inspect and fix the drainage issues.

We haven't received any cleaning supplies in a long time. At my last unit and other units we get cleaning supplies each week. This unit doesn't care about cleanliness.

We are only allowed one pair of boxers, one top, one bottom, and one pair of socks. We exchange daily. At other units (Robertson/Roach), you keep two pairs of each. Pigs trip about having more than one pair of boxers. The boxers are torn up. They expect us comrades to wear these torn up boxers. The laundry department refuses to repair them. This also goes for the shirts. They never replace missing pockets in the shirts or the pants.

They do not change the water coolers every hour throughout the day/night like they are supposed to. There is a lot of heat exhaustion. This is an older unit. I feel that they need to shut down this unit.

Guards and Medical

The majority of staff at the unit are Afrikan nationals who treat comrades as trash. They bring their bad attitudes to the prison and unleash it on comrades. Most of the pigs don't wear their nametags which is a violation.

I had a lot of problems showering at night because pigs want to screw comrades of showers when they work 1st shift/go to school. Every comrade should be afforded a shower.

The medical department is bad. The lighting in the dayroom at nighttime is too bright and it has hurt my vision severely. I was diagnosed with lattice degeneration and dot hemorrhage (thinning of retina). Medical doesn't do a lot for comrades.

chain
[Religious Repression] [Texas]
expand

Unequal Religious Permissions in TDCJ

TDCJ started allowing pagans to have a "service" once a week. We get 1 hour for non-outside-leader peer-to-peer, and 2 hours for groups led by an outside teacher. But the problem is that they don't even follow the policy that they themselves put into place, and 90% of chaplains and corrections officers (COs) are anti-pagan. These so-called Christians are the ones who oppress everybody who is not a Jesus follower. They cannot understand why we, those liberated from a "slave religion," refuse to follow their way. So they oppress us all as "satanists," which is funny when most of us don't even believe in the guy.

The chaplains will "lay us all in" (give a pass) to attend "pagan services" at a pre-determined time and place. It's almost always at count time when no movement is to be allowed, or at shift change when the COs are trying to get gone. So it's impossible to get out the door most of the time. When we do, they expect all of us, Wiccans, Ásatrú/Odinist, Druids, etc., to group up together and do our thing in a common circle. This does not work! We are so different from each other that it would be like making Muslims, Catholics and Christians all group up and have church together. I've had kingsmen (fellow followers) get locked up for asking to speak to the major or warden to get permission to be in separate groups. The unit chaplain didn't like the idea that we may get our way over what he had in mind. We tried to do some simple rites, based on what TDCJ policy lays out that we can do but this was shut down. Administration claimed that we require an outside leader. They don't understand that we don't require a priest or the equal to lead our groups. Most of the time who lead a rite is rotated or chosen by knowledge of the purpose and/or reason for said rite. Most of the simple rites don't require anything more than a cup and bowl, which we can get from unit commissary. But they want to try to oppress us by saying that we can only get together and study our lore during our hour long session.

I want to ask all Texas Pagans to come together and fight to get equal rights as the other religions. It would even be good for any oppressed Pagans of other states to join the movement for our "services." Don't let the powers that be use scare tactics to stop the equal rights. All it takes is a unified front to stand together and it will work in our favor.

chain
[Abuse] [Prison Labor] [Wynne Unit] [Texas]
expand

Carrot and Stick in TDCJ

I am doing time and slave labor on the Wynne Unit in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). This is an industry unit. Millions of dollars worth of commodities are mass produced by prisoners who receive no type of worthwhile compensation. These items consist of vehicle registration stickers, license plates, mattresses that range from Sealy Posturepedic to college dorm and prisoner beds. Signs are produced for a wide range of functions, and there's a computer recovery warehouse that refurbishes used and discarded units to be sent to high schools and hospitals.

It goes without saying that if everyone decided to lay it down the powers that be would have a serious problem. Yet sadly enough out of the 2,200 prisoners housed here, the number would more than likely be in the double digits only. You have those who don't want to lose their clerk job where they might get a few perks every now and then. Some in the craft shop would put the craft shop first. I do understand why people want to protect their "jobs," but how much longer are we going to stand by and be forced to witness the constant abuse of power?

I have been locked up in segregation unjustly. I've seen my brothers lose their lives which may have been prevented if the COs acted as if they gave a damn. Although we all know they don't. So, we rise early every morning, we are told to work "or else", and god forbid you try to utilize the option to go to school because you are expected to be at work before sunrise even if you are trying to educate your mind and work on your attitude.

It's no secret that the TDCJ's main concern all the way around is money. Ironically our "great state's" prison system is in the negative on funds but will not hesitate to lock someone up over a bullshit parole violation or something nonviolent like theft. And we are being punished daily by the COs and administration who use their position as an opportunity to abuse other human beings and get away with it. Our so-called grievance system is a laugh-out-loud joke, just like TDCJ's good time and work time fiascos.

The reality is that if just one third of our prison population would spend some of those phone minutes on educating our outside support rather than crying about more money for holiday packs and new shoes every 6 months, we might see some difference. Let people know how they can help, without making TDCJ's commissary richer. I like candy and sodas as much as the next guy. What I don't like is getting treated like dog shit just because I'm trying to resolve a problem. The indigent mail issue, the medical copay, the good time, work time and assaults on inmates by guards are but a few of our long list of issues that are not just going to disappear. We will not go quietly into that good night, and we will not back down without a fight.

chain
[Religious Repression] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas]
expand

Lockdown to Punish Those Fasting During Ramadan

I'm on lock during the month of Ramadan because I'm Muslim and I'm fasting. I've written grievances (I-60s) to Warden Vondra, the head Warden, and to Warden Clark concerning the Ramadan service for the Muslims on Ferguson Unit. Isn't it some type of violation for them to lock us down during the month of Ramadan? It started on 18 June 2015 [reported 7 July 2015].

They also have violated the right for us taking showers too because they have exceeded the limitation of 72 hours between shower access. While we have been on lockdown for the Muslims who are fasting we have been getting regular Johnnys along with the rest of the unit. It seems like they want us to break our fast and they don't bring us no type of cold water or nothing else to eat when our fast is broken. I feel that is wrong and the Muslims are being discriminated on Ferguson Unit. When we are on lockdown the Christians get to go to their service without any question being asked. I'm asking if I can get some type of help on this matter.

chain
[Control Units] [Texas]
expand

Following Policies or Following Whims?

After reading ULK 43 I decided to write for the cause. Seeing the article "Denied Recreation in Ad-Seg" written by a Texas prisoner made me want to expound on the same issues and expose the injustice in Texas prisons as a whole. From general population to Ad-Seg we all take the unfair shake of the hand; from the food on most units, to the disciplinary system, to the grievance system setup, to segregation placement and release. It's all kangaroo! And the chance for changing this seems highly unlikely. The "new" Willie Lynch and Jim Crow still has the masses blind, programmed and divided.

On this unit there are only two grievance investigators yet neither knows any answers to questions about grievances. Some grievances I've filed that have substantial evidence against officers or the system take 90 days to "investigate" and/or come up lost. Others come back with such a general response, it doesn't address the issues grieved. I have over ten grievances with the same response!

There's no need to really comment on the disciplinary system. Anyone who's ever caught a case knows how that turns out 99% of the time. I've never understood how the substitute counsel is supposed to be here to help us prisoners in such a matter when they are employed by the same agency that employs the captain who will find you guilty.

All of the conditions for management and release can be found in the Administrative Segregation Plan in the law library, signed by Director Rick Thaler on 6 March 2012. A lot of us are in segregation for some b.s., and once here they keep us here against policy with lame reasons or some non-violent infraction which has nothing to do with segregation placement anyway. Here are a few helpful things listed in the Administrative Segretation Plan.


I. Definitions A. At no time shall administrative segregation be used as punishment for misconduct. Punishment of an offender shall be assessed and imposed only pursuant to the provisions of the rules governing disciplinary procedures.

VI. Recommendations for Release B. General Procedures
1. The ASC may make recommendations to the SCC [State Classification Committee] for removal of an administrative segretation offender from administrative segregation who is between routine SCC reviews.
2. When considering the release of an administrative segregation offender to the general population, the SCC shall base the decision on whether the offender would still be:
a. A current escape risk;
b. A physical threat to staff or other offenders;
c. A threat to the order and security of the prison as evidenced by repeated, serious disciplinary violations


Grab a look at that policy, then ask yourself and others, does it take keeping a human being in segregation 3, 4, 5, or 10 years for any reason, provided their behavior is not continuously violent? I myself have been in segregation for almost 600 days now, for "possession of a weapon," that was not actually on me but in a cell where me and another prisoner were housed. Anyway, I'm labeled as a threat. I haven't done anything to anybody, haven't caught any violent cases either. When will I not be considered a threat? I'm not even labeled as part of a "security threat group," or escape risk!

To all of us in the struggle I just want to say keep your head high and strong. Learn the rules and know the game.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This author's experience shows that prisoncrats don't have to follow their own rules for responding to grievances, just like they don't need any substantive justification for torturing individuals for years. There are many who spend their time and energy trying to improve the protections for prisoners by enhancing prison rules. We can use this tactic to our advantage to make space for our organizing, but ultimately we wonder what's the big picture? The anecdote above is just one small example of the role of social control of Amerikkkan prisons which has been blatant for decades. And prison reformers have been trying to for decades improve these same prisons' conditions, while doing nothing to dismantle the economic system which requires oppression of groups over other groups. Prisons are a manifestation of that hierarchy, and capitalism is the economic system that we must destroy.

chain
[Migrants] [Texas] [ULK Issue 45]
expand

Ensuring Prisons are Populated

When the U.S. border patrol concocted a plan in 2005 with the help of George W. Bush called "Operation Streamline" the idea was to get tough on immigration by arresting and prosecuting those who crossed the border, instead of simply deporting them or placing them in a civil detention center. According to a report by the Bureau of Justice (BOJ) more than 80% of immigrant defendants received a prison sentence.(1) This punishment was for crossing an imaginary line into territory that was, before the battle of Alamo, their country's land. If one looks at it from the side of someone who crosses illegally, held up to 15 months in jail, one must ask what the hell is going on with this new prison system. According to the BOJ statistics the more than 60,000 people convicted of immigration crimes in 2014-15 were primarily found guilty of one of two things: "illegal entry" or "illegal re-entry."

In Texas, where many arrests are taking place, it is costing the state $270/day to house immigrants, not including food. That's $98,550 a year! Former Attorney General Eric Holder announced reforms to the nation's drug sentencing laws in an attempt to reduce the number of federal prisoners held on non-violent offenses, but these actions are not tackling the bigger picture. The expanding pool of new prisoners has meant steady business for the two largest U.S. private prison corporations. Last year, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) received 30% of its revenue from federal contracts with the U.S. Marshall Service and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), a total of $546 million. The GEO group received more than 25% of its revenue for a total of $384 million and four of the CCA's board's senior executives are former BOP employees. In Pearsall, Texas, there is a jail that can house up to 1,800 men at any one time, sleeping up to 100 on iron bunks in dormitories. This isn't a traditional jail, but a piece of land surrounded by fences topped by razor wire and run by the GEO group.

A Congressional Budget Office analysis of new senate immigration legislation estimated that

"the additional prosecutions under the bill would lead to an increase in incarceration costs totaling about $1.6 billion over the 2014-2023 period ... Those costs would stem from the increased number of individuals prosecuted, the change in sentencing guidelines, and the rate of conviction. ... Implementing the legislation would increase the prison population by about 14,000 inmates annually by 2018. The total additional costs to detain, prosecute, and incarcerate offenders would total $3.1 billion over the 2014-2023 period..."(2)

In Arizona, three privately run jails have contracts that require 100% occupancy. The main incentive for private prisons is to make money and they lobby politicians to keep it that way. The United $tates is a country where private corporations profit from "lockup quotas." So in the eyes of capitalism "Operation Streamline" is full steam ahead.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Private prisons are indeed cashing in on national oppression in the United $tates. And the use of prisons to target migrants is a key component to the imperialists' efforts to keep the borders closed and hoard wealth for Amerikan citizens. Defining the act of crossing an imaginary line in pursuit of a safer environment or a higher wage as illegal and requiring imprisonment is just one more way that the Amerikan criminal injustice system ensures a system of social control over oppressed people within U.$. borders. And the private prisons have found a way to turn a system that is inherently built on taking a financial loss (the government has to subsidize prisons as they do not make enough money from prisoner labor to run themselves) into a profitable enterprise for imperialist parasites. Sadly, there is no problem filling these prison quotas, as the criminal injustice system shows no sign of cutting back on what has become the largest imprisonment country per capita in the world. We have written before about the private prisons economic push to lock up more migrants.(1) And in response to these conditions, more recently we have seen some migrant prisoner protests.(2) In the end we won't be able to defeat this system of national oppression against migrants and all oppressed nations without dismantling imperialism itself. Imperialism depends on closed borders to ensure luxury for a few at the expense of the rest of the world.

Notes:
1. MIM(Prisons), "National Oppression as Migrant Detention," Under Lock & Key No. 11, November 2009.
2. MIM(Prisons), "Prisoners Take Over Adams Correctional Center in Protest of Conditions," Under Lock & Key No. 27, June 2012.

chain