Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Texas Prisons

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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)

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)

[Middleton Unit] [Texas]
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Inadequate Water in Texas Oven

My fellow comrades, with the heat climbing in the 100s here in Texas our only hope for relief is an early winter. Here at the John Middleton Unit in Abilene, Texas we are forced to live in metal sheds which have 54 prisoners per pod. We are given 20 gallons of cool water twice in a 24 hour period. Once at 6am and once at 6pm. The water lasts about 1 hour at most. The lines are long as are the tempers short, which of course equals disasters. Tempers flare, arguments explode and fights are the result of being stored in these oven boxes left to bake.

As of a result of many heat-related deaths of prisoners throughout Texas I believe change is forthcoming. Remember Texas prisons are behind in times so change will eventually happen. In the meantime we prisoners must deal with these horrific conditions and find a way to survive. But survive we will. Keep writing and keep your head up.


MIM(Prisons) responds: As another prisoner reported recently, the University of Texas Human Rights Clinic recently released a report concluding conditions inside Texas prisons in the summer violate the Eighth's Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Many are involved in the fight against this dangerous situation. We echo this comrade's call to all prisoners to keep documenting the conditions, and keep fighting. We need to build unity around these battles for reforms, while we educate folks about the criminal injustice system as a whole and its role as a tool of social control for the imperialists. We can not only win reforms, but we can build a broader movement to challenge the entire system.

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[Download and Print] [Civil Liberties] [Censorship] [Abuse] [Campaigns] [Texas]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Texas

Texas Petition
Click to Download PDF of Texas Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with their grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses listed on the petition, and below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

TDCJ Legal Affairs
Attn: Leonard Peck
P.O. Box 99
Huntsville, TC 77342-0099

TDCJ - Office of the Inspector General
Investigations Department
P.O. Box 4003
Huntsville, TX 77342-4003

United States Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
P.O. Box 9778
Arlington, Virginia 22219

State Bar of Texas Grievance Commission
1414 Colorado
Austin, TX 78701-1627

ACLU of Texas
William Harrell, Executive Director
P.O. Box 3629
Austin, TX 78764-3629

Committee on Criminal Justice
Sen. John Whitmire
P.O. Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711

Governor Rick Perry
1100 San Jacinto
Austin, TX 78701

Senator John Whitmore
Committee on Criminal Justice
P.O. Box 12068
Austin, TX 78711

TX Civil Rights Project
Attn: Atty Scott Medlock
1405 Montopolis Dr.
Austin, TX 78741-3438

Brandi Grissom
Texas Tribune
823 Congress Ave., Suite 210
Austin, TX 78701

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

*Petition updated September 2011, January 2012, July 2012, January 2013, October 2013, August 2014, and October 2017*

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [McConnell Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 42]
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Building Unity Fighting National Divisions in Texas

On a daily basis, we here at the McConnell Unit experience backlash for any and every thing we do to stand up for ourselves. I have been at a receiving end for some time. I have now been confined as a "security threat group (STG) member or leader" and am constantly being watched by the pigs. I am a considered a confirmed gang member despite ten years without any major disciplinary cases, gang involvement/activity, or fights.

Now, because of that my mail has gone missing, and has been denied without my knowledge. The mailroom staff has to notify and give you a pink paper to let you know your mail was denied and for what reason. My family has received two of their letters returned to them as "denied" yet I have never been called to the mailroom as per policy to be advised that I am being denied a letter. Plus the last thing I received from MIM(prisons) was the three past issues of ULK. As you can see I am targeted. I am used to it.

I spoke with the Gang Investigator two weeks ago. I told him that I am not gang related, have never been, and his response was plainly "we can start the process to get you off file, but it will take a year." This is after I have already gone through the process twice in ten years.

I have been pushing hard on our section for unity and peace amongst Latinos and Afrikan Amerikans. There is a lot of racial hatred on this unit, and no one seems to want to get along. Since 2007 I have tried and tried to make peace between two races who are always at each others' throats. I put up articles from ULK on a common area bulletin board so all these brothers can open their eyes to what they are too blind to see. I speak individually to different people and tell them they have the power to change the minds of these new "inmates" coming in and teach them that they are not inmates, they are human beings! Furthermore color is not a factor. All the pigs see is white uniform. All we see is skin color. And that is wrong, brothers.

We need to realize that together as one solid voice we can move mountains. We can be heard! We can achieve. Stop looking at each other with malice and hate. The pigs will take all your property, destroy your pictures, confiscate your commissary, and lock you up under false pretenses, yet some will overlook that only to fight the next brother because he owes a soup (25 cents) or changed the TV channel. Open your eyes! All of us!

We recently came off of a 30-day semi-annual lockdown. B-side on the unit is all lifers and medium custody prisoners. We had not been to store a week before lockdown, and after lockdown (on the 16th of July) we still have not been to commissary. Today is the 26th. So that's 47 days more or less. On the 21st we staged a sit in. We agreed that we in solidarity would go to lunch and all of us would sit down in the hallway until the majors and wardens came to speak to us. Fifty of us inside and out of the chowhalls, all in unity, sat down requesting the wardens to come speak. Sure enough all the lieutenants, captains, majors and wardens came to speak to us.

I told them (at all times) that it was a peaceful demonstration about our mistreatment on many issues but also concerning commissary being denied to B-Side while A side had gone twice to commissary and were fixing to go for a third time. Despite cameras to record us "initiating riots," and threats about being locked up and given disciplinary cases, we stood our ground. (Although some ran away at the first sign of the wardens coming and some did not actually attend the sit-in.)

The main warden speaking told us he would work on getting us commissary. He gave us his word and we in unity and unison got up and went back to our building. Our commissary schedule was dated as us not going to store until the 29th. But thanks to our actions we started going sooner, on the 24th.

We have 3 pods on our building and when we told the other 2 pods to help us they refused. We did it alone. Yet thanks to us they are going to store. Ironic that they believed our actions would be in vain yet enjoy the victory we achieved.

Basically we need to stand together. Not in violence. That only gives them the excuse that we belong in prison. Instead we all need to unite in solidarity. I would rather fight 5 years to live my next 15 peacefully and not mistreated rather than live all 20 under mistreatment and torture! And to all the brothers in here that sit back and take it: Why talk about war stories of you being this big bad "gangsta" out there who takes nothing from no one and give a story of "don't disrespect me" only to sit back and be compliant with the pigs?

Recently a Federal lawsuit against Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) was filed regarding the inhumane heat in the prisons. TDCJ responded that it's not an issue because they employ huge fans, air blowers and cold water as preventive measures to ensure safety. What they didn't state was that only one of those fans works in every section (one sits idle) and the air blowers do not work either. And cold water is hard to get because the pigs don't let us fill the coolers up until they feel like it. So that excuse isn't even true! Open your eyes brothers in Texas. Enough is enough! The fight continues. Don't give up or give in. Never let race be a factor! Power to all people!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We echo this comrade's call for unity across all groups of prisoners so that we can join together in the fight against the criminal injustice system.

Rather than define people by "race" however, we talk about nations. Racism is the idea that there are different biological differences between people. The anti-racists still claim people are separated into different "races" even though they acknowledge that there is no biological or material basis to this claim. The concept of racial differences between people is a product of national oppression that was invented as an ideological justification for colonialism and slavery of the "lesser" races.

We recognize that there are distinct nations within U.$. borders with common language, culture, economics and geography, which face subjugation as a group. So there are different groups within U.$. borders, but we advance beyond the anti-racists by defining those groups materially. The oppressed nations within U.$. borders include at least the [email protected], New Afrikan and First Nations. Rather than trying to integrate these peoples into the oppressor Amerikan nation, like the anti-racists are doing, we work to liberate them from imperialism to take control of their own national territories and form their own independent states, free from imperialism and oppression.

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[Abuse] [Texas] [ULK Issue 40]
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Texas Prisons Kill People with Heat

Mouth Sewn Shut
"The mission of the Institutional Division is to provide safe and appropriate confinement, supervision, rehabilitation, and reintegration of adult felons, and to effectively manage or administer correctional facilities based on constitutional and statutory standards" - Texas Government Code 494.001

For those of us housed within the prisons operated by the Texas Department of Criminal inJustice (TDCJ) we know this statement is nothing more than well-worded lies!

Recently the University of Texas - Human Rights Clinic came out with a report "Deadly Heat in Texas Prisons." The report pretty much proves what many of the lumpen already know: conditions inside Texas prisons in the summer violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. TDCJ keeps telling the public they have policies in place to combat the heat. However, Brian McGiverin, a lawyer with the Texas Civil Rights Project, said during a news conference on the topic, "Fourteen inmate deaths are strong evidence the prison agency's measures don't do enough to beat the heat's health risks." He continued, "The response that their policies are adequate today is ridiculous."

Senator John Whitmire, the chairman of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, had this to say on the topic: "But I can tell you, the people of Texas don't want air-conditioned prisons, and there's a lot of other things on my list above the heat." The "other things" were education, health care, and rehabilitation programs, but never has this racist pontificator said he was committed to ceasing the senseless murder of Texas prisoners by TDCJ employees! Whitmire, who has been in the Texas senate over 30 years, continues to turn a blind eye to the systemic abuse and discrimination of prisoners housed in TDCJ facilities. We suffer from racial discrimination, religious discrimination, sexual assaults, vicious beatings and abuse, and Whitmire continues to play good ol' boy politics.

For complaints on specific prison issues I found a strategy that's been working. I've been having family members file Ombudsman complaints via email. They can file formal public complaints on a wide range of issues and these complaints must be placed online for the public to view. We have been experiencing a lot of success! All that PO Box 99 shit to Huntsville is a waste of paper and time. Do it online and put these assholes on Front Street.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is just one example of the rampant abuse of prisoners in Texas and across the country, that is well documented and exposed in ULK and on our prisoncensorship.org website. But we aim to do more than just expose the brutality of the Amerikan criminal injustice system. Our goal is to organize and educate to make meaningful change. In the short term we fight battles like the campaign to have prisoners' grievances addressed so that we can create better conditions for our comrades behind bars. But in the long term we know that no Amerikan politician is ever going to fundamentally change the system of injustice. It will take the oppressed joining together to demand change to put an end to imperialism before we can hope to end the criminal injustice system. Get involved in this long-term fight today!

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[Abuse] [Religious Repression] [Texas]
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Federal Judge Exposes Discrimination Against Muslims Held Captive in Texas Prisons

Hang DOC KKK
In a much-anticipated ruling, Federal District Judge Kenneth Hoyt struck down Texas Deparmment of Criminal inJustice's (TDCJ) attempt to terminate the Brown vs. Beto consent decree. The Brown vs. Beto case goes back to 1969 and it stemmed from a federal action brought by a TDCJ prisoner, Bobby Brown, who fought hard against the racist oppressors in Texas who would unmercifully beat any prisoner who declared himself a Muslim. At the time Brown was a member of the Nation of Islam (NOI) and it was members of the NOI and Fruit of Islam who provided material support, legal support, and physical security to Brown and other Muslim prisoners who were victims of religious discrimination and racial hate. It is noteworthy to mention that even in the year 2014 over 95% of the Muslims in TDCJ are New Afrikans (Black). There is a racist dynamic to Texas's ongoing oppression of Muslim prisoners.

The Brown vs. Beto consent decree was put in effect in 1977 and it provided a wide array of rules and policies geared toward destroying any obstacles to Texas prisoners' right to practice Islam if they hoose. In 2012 under the auspices of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, TDCJ and the state of Texas petitioned the court in an effort to terminate Brown claiming they had policies in place which provided ample opportunities for Muslim prisoners to practice their faith. This was a lie and a ruse concocted by the racist oppressors to show onlookers an illusion of freedom. In reality, TDCJ has established rules and policies which infringe grossly upon Muslim prisoners' right to practice. We are monitored as if we all are potential terrorists; our visitors and volunteers are harassed and overly scrutinized; TDCJ Correctional Officers regularly disrespect the Muslims and bait them in physical and verbal confrontations. This is the reality on the ground!

However, the main point Judge Hoyt made in his ruling was that TDCJ has purposely constructed rules which made it impossible for Muslims in Texas prisons to practice. Moreover, he stated the agency has established a practice throughout the system where they show preferential treatment to Christian prisoners while marginalizing, ridiculing, and obstructing Muslims from practicing their religion. All this amounts to a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. Judge Hoyt ruled that Brown will remain intact and told them to make the necessary changes ASAP.

Instead of rectifying the problems in Texas state Attorney General Gregg Abbott is ordering an appeal of the judge's ruling. So there is an overt collusive effort by the Attorney General and the Executive Directory of TDCJ to violate Muslims' U.S. constitutional rights. This is the type of violation the Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division is supposed to protect U.$. citizens from suffering, yet they have hesitated to get involved! It reminds me of that young Black man who got beat in the face with a hammer by Georgia prison guards. We must come to the understanding that these imperialists, whether they be white or Black, Democrat or Republican, do not have a vested interest in the lumpen underclass who are trapped in Amerikkka's Gulags.

I can not tell you how many grievances I have written citing Religious Discrimination and they have come back with that same old bullshit reply: no policy violated, no further action warranted! And the entire time these racist oppressors were violating my constitutional rights! This once again highlights the corruption and hypocrisy of TDCJ! This grievance program in Texas is a sham and a farce.

I urge all of you reading this piece to join United Struggle from Within, and fight these racists! Expose the abuse, murders, and violation of civil and humyn rights. We must make a collective push to call for an all-out investigation of TDCJ and the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee as they too are culpable in the rampant, systemic, and pervasive abuse of Texas prisoners.Comrades, I want you to understand that racism is a byproduct of capitalism/imperialism. Unifying in order to smash imperialism provides a serious blow to racism. Texas as a whole is an imperialist stronghold and the overt racism that exists throughout the state is a testimony to that!

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[Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 39]
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Response to Texas Petitions Falling on Deaf Ears

I read over the letter from our Polunsky comrades. This is what I recommend. Often it helps to attach an I-60 with your Step 1 grievance and ask the Grievance Officer for the processing number of your grievance. If you have this number you will have a direct reference to track a grievance. This helps discourage grievances being "misplaced." It's also handy when you write Administration Review & Risk Management (ARRM) about the unit not addressing that particular grievance. For important and serious grievances it is useful to start them like this:

I file this grievance to exhaust all administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act to bring forth action under section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code.

It basically says: I'm going to sue you! It's not a guarantee but such an intro may make the grievance officer take it more seriously.

In regards to the officers who confiscate personal property and then destroy them, I'd like to direct our comrades to the Texas Grievance Guide, in particular the part concerning filing criminal charges against officers. If an officer takes a prisoner's property without giving a confiscation form stating the reason for confiscation, then that is legally theft. It is also a violation of your civil right to due process (which is also a criminal offense). Of course you will need some kind of proof that the item existed and was taken. Get prisoners to write affidavits and reference any camera numbers (if there are any). The criminal charges may not stick because pigs don't eat pork, but it may give them a wake up call and make them think twice.

I agree that our grievance petitions are having no effect with the people we are currently sending them to. I feel it more beneficial to send them to ACLU Texas or the DOJ. Our grievances and complaints are systematically neglected and denied. It is an Orwellian system, a labyrinth of closed loops, a facade. We need to push for the TDCJ Independent Oversight Committee which will place our grievances before an unaffiliated organization with the ability to monitor TDCJ to ensure that it abides by statutory law and its own policy.

We shouldn't hope sending the grievance petition alone to the DOJ or ACLU is enough. We must promote and campaign this proposed bill to our freeworld friends and family. I see no other way to break these closed loops.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Write to us for a copy of the Texas Grievance Guide. While we agree with this comrade that a TDCJ Independent Oversight Committee would bring progress for Texas prisoners in their fight against abuse and injustice, this too is not enough. We must learn from history that reforms like this one are followed by DOJ tricks and adjustments to work around the new policies and continue the same old abuse and repression. While we should still fight for these reforms, and use the battle to educate and unite people both behind the bars and on the streets, we must do this in the context of the broader struggle against the criminal injustice system. We should never mislead people to think that one reform or one house bill will make the change we need to see to create a true system of justice.

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[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 39]
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Texas Petitions Fall on Deaf Ears, Need to Shift Campaign Target

We here on Polunsky Unit are receiving the ULK and copies of the grievance petition. We are engaged in the fight on a very small scale. Hundreds of petitions have been sent to the central grievance office, Administrative Review and Risk Management Division (ARRM), Executive Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), and recently TDCJ Board Chairman Oliver Bell, but to no avail. Grievances are not submitted and grievance investigators claim to not have received them. Those that do get processed/submitted are not properly investigated and receive the standard response of "insufficient evidence to substantiate your allegation."

The KKKlantation Warden Gary Hunter is in collusion with grievance staff to trash/destroy any grievance/appeal that may get action if we proceed to the Step 2 level, that is if the Step 2 does not land in the hands of Regional Director Richard Alford who has been Assistant Warden and Head Warden on this KKKlantation within the 12 years that I've been here.

There is another struggle against Helen Sheffield (Sgt. of Safe Prison/Extortion). She confiscates personal property of offenders accused of extortion, running gambling businesses, stores, inappropriate relationships with female guards, etc., and destroys property if the offender refuses to snitch for her. This is all done under the watchful eye of Senior Warden Hunter and Assistant Warden Kenneth Hutto.

If any comrades in Texas can assist us in our fight against Sgt. Sheffield and her theft and unlawful destruction of offender property, please feel free to engage in this struggle.

To all comrades of USW in Texas, we must come up with a new direction to take this grievance campaign (new addresses, etc.) to send grievance petitions to because all the former names/addresses have failed us. My suggestion is the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) or ACLU Texas. We comrades on the Polunsky KKKlantation have chosen to forward our petitions to the DOJ.

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[Abuse] [Dalhart Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 39]
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Demand Justice for Prisoner Death in Texas

On June 3 of last year a young Black man named Maynard Brumsey was killed at the Dalhart Unit in Texas due to excessive use of force. As a result of constant urging by comrades and their families calling for justice, several of the top officials were removed. It's more likely than not that they were just placed at other units in similar fashion to what the Catholics did in recent years with pedophiles within their ranks. Nor was their removal likely officially directly related to Brumsey's death. So, we are a far cry from exacting anything like justice upon the offender officers whose actions caused that man to die. Officers Hay, Verlardi, Marquez, Jackson, Crawford, and Gambriel killed this man through excessive force and in failing to take him to medical after they brutalized him, even as he complained of having trouble breathing. They need to answer for that. Those officials who failed to investigate this matter correctly and according to procedure and/or who covered this thing up need to face criminal sanctions. We don't let the Brumsey matter die until that happens.

This is the nature of our revolutionary struggle in the United States at present. What happens in prisons is just one aspect of it. We need to be vigilant in making the connections clear between prisons and hoods, especially the projects to prisons pipeline that uses public schools as a conduit. We need to understand the relationship between these phenomena and political disengagement and economic disempowerment. In clearly defining the nature of our social predicament, we are more competent in our struggles' strategic development.

Consistent and sustained vehicles of information and resource exchange are paramount. I recently received literature from MIM(Prisons) under the banner of our United Struggle from Within which outlined several procedural codes of compliance that can be used effectively against officers and administration. In our past three years of development we have reached nearly 5,000 men with our advocating for our "Triple C Core Concepts." Each of those men should have such material to fight with. So I praise MIM(Prisons) and the collective efforts of our USW comrades for that.

This article referenced in:
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[Control Units] [Allred Unit] [Texas]
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Allred ECB Staff Provoke Prisoner Aggression

Expansion Cell Blocks (ECB) were designed to hold two prisoners in order to increase unit capacity. But Texas officials have labeled ECB as high security in an attempt to negate the facts and distort the actual security level of the ECB.

In order to justify this use of ECB, in spite of staff shortages and unlawful conditions, the authorities create a hostile environment which conforms to their false reality. Prisoners are agitated to commit acts of violence, create disturbances, or become aggressive, so that the ECB takes on an air of a high security prisoner housing area where sanctions and restrictions are necessary. Sanctions and restrictions enable the ECB to be operated even without the staff they are short. Constant lockdown cameras have been installed to document everything. This expense must be justified. The staff creates incidents for the technology to record. Restrictions begin. Policy becomes practice.

Lights are turned on every time count is taken, food is delivered, or staff feel it is necessary. Prisoners are required to regularly produce ID and are disturbed to the point they are deprived of REM sleep. Cell searches are performed irregularly during the day and throughout the night. A heightened state of anxiety and stress is created. People kept under high levels of stress are known to snap or break.

In addition to this high stress level, prisoners at ECB are provoked by staff. Most lack the capacity to respond to chaos in a rational manner thereby perpetrating the myth of high security and enabling the authorities to further control and empower themselves.

There is a systematic campaign of psychological warfare being waged against prisoners in control units. The evidence proves sensory deprivations experienced in isolation produces extreme states of mind, impulsiveness and irrational behaviors. Statistics show a decline in mental health in prisoners confined to solitary confinement for years. Without stimulation our minds and bodies begin to break down and decay.

Prisoners are conditioned through a system of punishments and indifference to view all forms of resistance as futile. Requests aren't answered. Responses are purposely vague or misleading. Policy is interpreted to undermine prisoner autonomy. The authorities use every tactic available to promote complete dependency of the prisoner and to ensure despondency is total.

All the while the public is being told prisoners are being provided with forms of rehabilitation and that support is given to those who desire to make modifications to their mentality.

Facilities designed to house 1200 prisoners are used to house 600. Prisoners in control units, Ad-Seg or high security do not receive good time, parole or work time. Their sentences are only discharged at their maximum release date. The result is requiring more money to provide for more prisoners and more staff to control them. The goal of the prison staff is achieved.


MIM(Prisons) adds: These long-term isolation cells are a common tool of oppression in the Amerikan criminal injustice system. And we have plenty of evidence of the detrimental effect of this isolation on humyns. Get involved in the campaign to shut down control units to resist this repression in Texas and across the country.

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[Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 38]
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Texas Indigent Mail Battle Victories and Set Backs

censor

The Texa$ Board of Criminal (in)Justice implemented new prisoner Correspondence Rules on 1 October 2013 restricting indigent prisoners to 5 one-ounce domestic letters per month. The previous policy allowed 5 letters per week. This is a clear attack on prisoners' access to the outside world, and in particular impacts politically active prisoners who use the mail to expose the brutality and abuse going on behind bars in Texas. In response to this new policy United Struggle from Within initiated a grievance campaign, organizing prisoners to appeal this restriction. Below are several new updates to the campaign:

Successful Grievance Against Limits on Legal Mail

From Hughes Unit: "I won my grievance due to interference from the department law library which deals with offenders who are indigent. They were saying five letters a month for everything and they were trying to stop my legal mail from going out to the courts. There is no limit on legal mail! They were also trying only to give us supplies like 25 sheets of paper, one pen, five envelopes a month. But an indigent offender who is doing legal work can have this once a week, and mail out as much legal work he or she wants."

One prisoner from Allred wrote Step 1 and Step 2 grievances requesting additional stamps. Because of his need to use his 5 indigent mail stamps to pursue legal research this prisoner was unable to write to family and friends and so requested additional stamps from the Warden. The first request prior to the grievances stated "I need to mail 5 more letters this month using indigent [mail]. ... This unit law library is giving me the run around having me write and ask everybody under the sun. They don't know about the 83rd Legislature House Bill 634 by Farias of Texas. It's the holidays, I need extra 5 letters this month." The response from the Warden: "That doesn't meet any legal requirement and I don't have the authority to allow you extra postage for that." Responses to his grievances following up on the Warden's denial included denying the Step 1 for "excessive attachments." The attachments were copies of his initial attempts to resolve the issue without filing a grievance.

Based on the victory from the prisoner in Hughes Unit, we encourage prisoners to appeal their access to stamps for legal mail separately from the restriction on personal mail.

Restrictions on Receipt of Stationary

A comrade in Eastham Unit reported: "Each year the big wigs running Texas prisons decide on what to take from the prisoners next. This year it involves indigent mail and stationary sent in from the outside. Prisoners who have no money on their trust fund account are able to receive supplies (paper, pen, envelopes) and send out letters through the indigent mail. Before this March prisoners could send out five letters a week, now it's just five letters a month... What's worse is that we're charged for indigent mail services. Whenever we get money on our account, the cost for every letter mailed and each supply is deducted.

"Prior to March our friends and family could have stationary from an outside store sent to us. This was eliminated, and now our only option is purchasing stationary from commissary, and paying their prices. Like any oppressor, TDCJ enjoys coming up with new ideas and ways to make life more difficult for their captors. There's strength in numbers. The more of us who write grievances, send letters to state politicians, and get the word out to our family and friends, the better chance we have of telling our oppressors that we're not going to take this lying down."

This comrade is right on about the strength in numbers. We have a number of prisoners across the state working on this campaign to end the restrictions on correspondence in Texas, and we've come up with a few key steps for prisoners and supporters to take.

Some jailhouse lawyers have created guides to fighting this injustice as well as a broader grievance guide for Texas, and we are seeing an influx of prisoners requesting these resources. We look forward to the results of this growing activism in this state with the largest prison population and one of the highest incarceration rates in the country.

For this indigent mail campaign in particular, we have a sample step 1 grievance for prisoners to use as well as a sample step 2 grievance for those whose step 1 is rejected. Write to us for a copy of the indigent mail campaign guide.

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