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)

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] [Religious Repression] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]
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Fighting Sanitary Conditions, Grooming Court Victory in Texas

In the William P. Clements Prison unit in Amarillo, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is now selling us 50 sheets of low quality paper on commissary for $1.80. Here in the extended cell block, High Security A.K.A. Segregation, we have showers in our cells. They only come on 15 minutes per day. We are only issued a clean towel 3 times per week: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. So we go Saturday, Sunday and Monday on the same towel.

Here's the problem. Once you are done with your shower the spray covers at least 1/3 of your cell. If you use this towel to dry all this grey water up you no longer have a towel suitable to dry your body off the next day after a shower. If we get caught with a second towel for use in this purpose we receive a disciplinary case for extra necessities. I personally grieved this issue and it was denied because policy states we're only allowed one towel at a time. This is a sanitary issue.

These are just some of the injustices we see here in the Texas department of Criminal Justice. On another level though Texas inmates just won a small victory when the federal courts ruled TDCJ was violating our religious rights by making prisoners of certain faiths shave or cut their hair, like Rastafarians, Native Americans, Muslims, Amish, and Jews. We are still waiting for the change in grooming policy but we won.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Compared to some of the brutality, long-term isolation, and medical neglect, lack of a clean towel may seem like a minor issue facing Amerikan prisoners. But it is these minor issues that really illustrate the irrationality of the prisons in this country. Why would it be a disciplinary case for a prisoner to have a second towel to keep his cell clean? How could this good hygiene practice be dangerous or otherwise problematic? Prisons withold small "privileges" like this as an arbitrary form of punishment. There is no educational or reform purpose. There is just a long list of such actions adding up to unsanitary, disrespectful, unstimulating, and counter productive living conditions (when prisoners aren't being beaten, tortured, starved, or otherwise physically abused).

Prisoners will come together to fight for these minor issues, as we see with this court victory for religious expression with haircuts in Texas. It is our job as revolutionaries to take these small battles and use them as educational opportunities to show others how these issues fit into the broader system of imperialism where prisons are used as a tool of social control.

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[Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 37]
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Texas Restrictions on Indigent Correspondence Campaign Update

When a prisoner writes the TDCJ Executive Director it will always be forwarded to the Ombudsman. They (Ombud) will always reply that they do not respond to prisoner complaints and that the grievance procedures should be followed. It's a "closed loop" to prisoners.

The Call to Action that I wrote which included the contacts were primarily for our family and friends to put pressure on authorities so that our grievances are more effective - eg. our families should contact the Executive Director and Ombudsman to file an official complaint about the policy change.

I got my Step 2 back around November and I sent it to the Texas Civil Rights Project to see if they would be interested in representing this issue in a lawsuit. I am yet to get a response from the Texas Civil Rights Project. It could be worth while if someone could contact them (TCRP) about this issue to prompt a response to my correspondence to them as I know they get piles of mail every week.

We not only need to file grievances but also strongly encourage our freeworld friends and family to contact all the contacts on the Call to Action to put a lot of pressure on the Texas Board of Criminal Justice to repeal the policy.

I believe it is futile to send the Texas Grievance Petition to the Executive Director because of the closed loop with the correspondence being forwarded to the Ombudsman. It could be worthwhile for freeworld people to send a version of the petition to the Exec Dir but I think prisoners need to start directing the petition to someone else.

I also want to mention that this mail restriction should not affect legal/privileged correspondence - prisoners should still be able to send 5 per week.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We received information from another prisoner on this same issue:

Comrades in Texas, do not send your petitions to the Executive Director or Central Grievance office because they are not working in our favor. They only forward the petitions to departments that don't address these issues, who contacted me and said "address this grievance related issues on a unit level with the grievance investigators."

We on the Polunsky plantations are sending our petitions to: ARRM Division, Administrator, PO Box 99, Huntsville, TX 77342-0099. I suggest that all Texas prisoners do the same so that we will be in solidarity. Let's flood their office with our complaints. If this doesn't work we will flood the DOJ in Washington DC. Let's work in solidarity!

We agree with these comrades' recommendations that prisoners focus sending their grievances to somewhere other than the Executive Director. We suggest the following addresses:


ARRM Division, Administrator
PO Box 99
Huntsville, TX 77342-0099

Senator John Whitmire
PO Box 12068, Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711

Oliver Bell
Chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice
PO Box 13084
Austin, TX 78711-3084

We also now have a sample Step 2 grievance available to those who had their Step 1 on this issue rejected. Write to us if you need a copy of this.

We know this campaign is not going to change the criminal injustice system in any significant way. But restrictions on mail access is equivalent to cutting many people off from the outside world. And for those who are engaged in educational and organizing work, this is a significant problem. For this reason, focusing a campaign on restrictions on indigent correspondence is important to our broader organizing work.

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[Medical Care] [Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 37]
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Fighting the System: Appealing the $100 Medical Co-Pay in Texa$

The Texa$ Legislature cut $60 million from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) budget for 2012 and raised the medical co-pay from $3 per visit to $100 per year. They had the unrealistic expectation of collecting up to $15 million from the prisoners [see Prison Legal News, Oct 2012 p. 42]. As all of us have noticed, the TDCJ also enacted other corner cutting measures to save pennies. These include: cutting back on legal books at the law library, reducing education and rehabilitation programs, serving two meals on the weekend and dessert once a week, restricting indigent correspondence to 5 letters a month, banning freeworld stationary (so you must buy it from the commissary), and reducing the number of staff. The idea was to reduce expenses that would help Texa$ manage its massive budget shortfall.

This guide is about appealing the $100 medical co-pay in Texa$. It presents all the Co-Pay Exemptions that can be used to get your money back. We want to keep our very limited funds out of the hands of the TDCJ so that we can use it for more important purposes. Specifically, you are encouraged to spend any money you recover on educating and organizing others. Send a donation to Under Lock & Key to expand the pages in this valuable resource, create study groups and make copies of literature to study, copy and distribute grievance petitions to fight the corrupt grievance process and to end the limit on indigent correspondence, or buy stamps and envelopes for indigent prisoners who can't buy for themselves. There are a lot of things we need to be doing with our limited funds, so we fight to keep this money from being appropriated by the state.

How Do We Appeal The Medical Co-pay?

It is rather simple. Get a Step One Grievance (I-127) and explain on it why you are exempt. If your Step One is denied, follow through with the same argument in a Step Two (I-128). You will be surprised at how often the Appeal is granted. The issue is that most medical departments systematically charge everyone the co-pay out of hope you are ignorant about the exemptions and fail to appeal it. They get away with this because there is no confirmation necessary for them to charge you (compared to commissary purchases, receiving legal mail, sending indigent correspondence - all need your confirmation - but not the medical co-pay). Here is a brief example: Co-pay is not to be assessed for any prisoner receiving a clipper shave pass as they have been diagnosed with a chronic and permanent dermatologic condition - "pseudofolliculitis barbae." Diabetic prisoners who receive foot care, specifically toe nail trimming, as part of their chronic care treatment plan are not to be assessed a co-pay fee either.

The medical co-pay regulation can be found at Texas Government Code 501-063. The Administrative Director for it in TDCJ is AD 06-08. In relevant part, the Co-payment Determinations and Exemptions are found in Section III.

Here are the Exemptions:

A) Unless specifically exempted, offender-initiated visits shall be subject to a copayment (meaning that if you do not initiate the visit, i.e. work related or officer initiates it, then you are exempt).

B) A copayment shall NOT be charged if the health care service is the result of an emergency which includes, but is not limited to, injuries sustained as a result of an accident or assault. Such injuries shall be covered by the emergency visit exemption.

C) Copay shall NOT be charged if the health care services are related to the diagnosis or treatment of a communicable disease. Such services, including follow-up visits and testing, are exempt as either a chronic care visit or a department-initiated visit. Offenders shall not be charged for initiating communicable disease testing.

D) Initial requests for mental health reviews initiated by the offender are NOT subject to the copayment requirement. Emergency, follow-up, or chronic care requests for mental health reviews shall NOT be charged a copayment.

E) Follow-up visit related to the monitoring or treatment of a condition diagnosed in a previous visit with a health care provider are exempt from copayment charges.

F) Prenatal services, including the initial visit diagnosing pregnancy, subsequent examinations, testing, counseling and patient education services are specifically exempted from copayment requirements.

G) Physical or mental health screening, laboratory work, referrals and follow-up appointments provided or recommended as part of the initial intake diagnostic and reception process are exempt from the copayment requirement.

H) A health screening upon arrival at a new unit of assignment shall be considered a visit to a health care provider initiated by a health care provider and is exempt from the copayment requirement.

I) Prescriptions and medications are considered to be a result of a medical visit and follow-up procedures and are exempt from the copayment charge. No charge shall be assessed for accessing approved over-the-counter medications made available in the offender housing area.

J) A copayment applies to a single visit. An offender requesting a visit to a health care provider for multiple symptoms shall be charged only one copayment if the symptoms are addressed in the same visit. If a request for a visit with a health care provider results in scheduling of appointments with more than one provider, such as a dentist and a physician, the initial visit with each clinician is subject to the copayment requirement.

K) If an offender is being seen by a provider for services otherwise exempted from the copayment and during the course of the visit requests healthcare services related to a different condition then that being served, the additional request shall be treated as an initial offender-initiated visit, shall be documented in accordance with the walk in procedures, and are subject to the copayment requirement.

L) A copayment shall NOT be assessed for medical treatment of self-inflicted injuries. Offenders inflicting injuries on themselves shall be referred to mental health evaluations.

M) Offenders shall NOT be charged for "No-Shows" because a visit did not occur. The copayment requirement only applies if the offender is seen by a health care provider. "No-Shows" shall be documented in accordance with CMHC procedures.

N) Dental services are considered health care services and subject to the copayment requirements if the services are initiated by the offender. Exemptions from copayment requirements for emergencies, chronic care, follow-up, health screening and evaluations, and department initiated visits are to be applied in the same manner as for other health care services.

O) Physical evaluations following use of force incidents are required by TDCJ policy and are not subject to the copayment requirement.

P) Inpatient services are considered follow-up services and are not subject to the copayment requirement. These services include, but are not limited to, hospitalization, extended care nursing, hospice and unit infirmary inpatient care.

Q) Procedures or testing ordered by a Court or performed pursuant to state law are exempt from the copayment requirement.

R) Services provided under contractual obligation established pursuant to the Interstate Corrections Compact or under an agreement with another state that precludes the assessment of a copayment shall be exempt from the requirement to charge.

Each One, Teach One

Share this guide with those who need it. If you are a good grievance writer, then help those who may not feel as confident. And be sure to encourage everyone to make good use of the money they win through these grievances. It is not enough to just keep $100 out of the hands of the TDCJ. If that money is spent on unnecessary canteen purchases or on drugs or services that are bad for your health and/or a waste of money, you haven't actually accomplished anything. Spend this money on meaningful work to fight the criminal injustice system. Even a small donation can help with the education of others and the expansion of our work, and $100 can do a lot! Get in touch with MIM(Prisons) to make a donation or for more information about educating and organizing in Texas prisons and beyond.

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[Control Units] [Texas]
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Texas Evades Reducing Ad-Seg

After nearly 2 years in the 23 hour lockdown setting of Ad-Seg in Texas I have recently been released to General Population - medium custody status. My experience in Ad-Seg taught me some harsh truths about the reality of the Texas criminal injustice system. I witnessed numerous beatings of the lumpen, and I watched in astonishment as Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) employees lied in order to cover up and minimize heinous acts of violence aimed at prisoners.

There isn't any oversight. A major use of force resulting in deaths is used in exchange for calling it like it is: cold-blooded murder! On 22 October 2013 a white male prisoner housed on the Bill Clements High Security unit in Amarillo, TX was gassed to death. The prisoner was known to suffer from asthma! TDCJ employees regularly murder the lumpen with no consequences what-so-ever.

The prison conditions in Texas' many Ad-Seg control units are deplorable. Last year the Bill SB1003 was passed during the Texas 83rd state legislative session. This bill, authored by State Senator John Carona, proposed a study be conducted by an independent committee in order to assess the policies and procedures of TDCJ in regards to how they handle prisoners housed in Ad-Seg. The goals of the committee were:

  1. Reduce Ad-Seg population in Texas
  2. Divert adults with mental illness to alternative programs instead of housing them in the torturous conditions of Ad-Seg.
  3. Decrease the length of time adults and juveniles are housed in Ad-Seg in Texas.

As of the date that this article was written, there has not been one meeting of this so called "Third Party Independent Study Committee." The main reason is lack of funding. The Texas Legislative Budget Board estimated the law (SB1003) would cost less than $128,000. As of 2011, TDCJ housed 8,784 prisoners in Ad-Seg. More than 2,000 of those prisoners have been diagnosed with serious mental illness. Comrades, do you realize that Texas would save tax-payers close to $36 million yearly if they decreased their Ad-Seg population by half?

Many comrades criticize MIM(Prisons) for exposing the blatant and overt racism that still exists in states such as Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Florida and California. I supported 100% the release of "The Peoples' Lawyer" Lynne Stewart but what about Albert "Shaka" Woodfox? What about Sekou Odinga, Sundiata Acoli, Herman Bell, Jamil Al-Amin, Lorenzo Johnson, and Mumia Abu-Jamal?

Renisha McBride was shot in the face seeking help after a car accident in Dearborn, Michigan and Andy Lopez was simply playing in the street [and murdered by the pigs the same day as the prisoner with asthma mentioned above]! We cannot ignore the race issue but I believe the BLA best summed up our stance on this issue: "...Black revolution is socialist revolution, aimed at the monopoly capitalist class, its lackeys and agents, and not indiscriminately at white people. We must seek, if at all possible, to isolate the monopoly class from its white worker base of support and bring about a cleavage in amerikan society such as occurred during the Vietnam war. This must be a conscious part of our strategy..." -BLA Study Guide.

Notes:
1. Texas CURE - News & Notes Winter 2013
2. Texas Senate Bill 1003
3. KPFT 90.1 FM The Prison Show 13 September 2013
4. The Texas Tribune by Brandi Grissom, Approved Solitary Confinement Study Lacks Funding.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This article clearly demonstrates that prisons are not about saving (even less, making) money, they are about social control. Reducing the size of prison control units would threaten the criminal injustice system's use of these as a tool of social control. And it would also encroach on the jobs of the many people receiving exploiter wages to run these high security units. So we're not surprised that Texas is failing to implement a law aimed at reducing their Ad-Seg population.

We would go further than this writer in calling out not just the symptom of racism, but the cause which is national oppression. The unity of the white nation with the monopoly capitalists comes from a system that elevates the white nation and oppresses the New Afrikan, [email protected] and Indigenous nations within U.$. borders, and Third World peoples around the world. The principle contradiction in the world today is between oppressed and oppressor nations. That same contradiction is principle within U.$. borders as well, which means that while we should always strive to split off the members of the oppressor nation for the cause of anti-imperialism, their national and class interests tie them very strongly to the imperialists. It is when wars with the Third World start to impact the white nation at home, such as during the Vietnam war, that we might see conditions more favorable for splitting off a section of the white nation.

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[Campaigns] [Texas]
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Texas Responds to Campaign to End Restrictions on Indigent Correspondence

man behind bars
Ombudsman tells prisoners they must appeal file a grievance at
the unit level, while unit staff are saying this is not an issue
they can address.

Prisoners in Texas have been fighting the recently enacted restrictions on indigent correspondence which restricts indigent prisoners to 5 one-ounce domestic letters per month. As we've explained in other articles, this is an attack on the growing number of revolutionary voices in Texas speaking out to expose the barbaric treatment and inhumane conditions. One comrade created a grievance that prisoners can file and a list of people to contact to demand this policy be changed. We are now getting reports of responses to these grievances. And as usual, the prisons are just giving us the run-around.

One prisoner got a response to his grievance stating: "TDCJ as an Agency revised Board Policy 03.91 in August of 2013 affecting indigent mail. Those decisions are not made at the Unit level, merely enforced. No further action warrented."(sic)

Further, several prisoners have received form letters from the TDCJ Ombudsman's Office telling them that they Ombudsman will not be responding and they should contact the "appropriate unit staff" instead. "Issues regarding unit operations, disciplinary disputes, property issues, mail or any other matter relating to conditions of care or supervision may be formally addressed through the Offender Grievance Procedure..."

So basically the Ombudsman's Office says prisoner's must take up this issue via a grievance. And the unit staff respond to prisoner's grievances saying they can not address this issue because it is a state-wide policy. The original campaign urged people to contact a variety of TDCJ leaders and Texas politicians. To date we have no reports of any response from them.

This campaign is an important battle to ensure the voices of Texas prisoners can be heard. Limits on correspondance mean we will be unable to get regular reports of abuses behind bars, and unable to maintain study and communication with politically active comrades. We must continue the pressure and demand more than just form letters and dismissals to our protests.

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[Organizing] [Wynne Unit] [Texas]
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Politically Active Prisoners in Texas Receive Unexpected Support From Free World Comrades

Comrades, there has been a collusive and concerted effort by the Texas Department of Criminal Injustice (TDCJ) to silence and censor the voices of politically active prisoners housed in many of their III units. United Strugle from Within (USW) has initiated a campaign to combat the oppressive indigent mail policy enacted October 1, 2013 which decreased the allotted amount of personal letters indigent Texas prisoners are able to mail out. Prisoners went from 5 per week to 5 per month! The prisoners who are effected the most by this new TDCJ policy are held captive in Texas' many control and isolation units. Just the very nature of their confinement makes these prisoners more vulnerable to abuse and attacks by sadistic correctional officers.

TDCJ has institutionalized a policy and practice of downplaying, minimizing, and covering up incidents and reports of serious abuse and violence aimed at prisoners. Their motive has always been to misinform the public as to the true nature of the largest state prison system in Amerika. However, limiting prisoners access to the media, clergy, and loved ones wasn't enough. Recently, on the Wynne Unit located in in Huntsville, Texas, prison administrators decided to discontinue the contract with the satellite radio company that was providing Wynne's 2,200 prisoners access to KPFT Radio 90.1 FM Houston. KPFT is a member of the Pacifica Network and on top of providing a diverse and well rounded schedule of politically conscious and highly educational programming, KPFT broadcasts The Prison Show! - every Friday between the hours of 9pm and 11pm. Huntsville, Texas is the home of Amerika's largest prison population and it fit well with TDCJ's strategy to cut prisoners completely off from one of the most prisoner friendly radio stations in the country!

As a result of deteriorating prison conditions, retaliation, and abuse, many Ad-Seg prisoners on Wynne Unit and surrounding units in Huntsville, including the infamous Estelle High Security Unit, reached out to Mr. Ray Hill the founder of KPFT's Prison Show. Mr. Hill has a reputation of being an outspoken critic of Texas' draconian prison system. In response to their peaceful and legal activism, the Assistant Warden in charge of Wynne's Ad-Seg unit forced his officers to write over 70 bogus and fabricated disciplinary cases against Ad-Seg prisoners housed on Wynne Unit. Assistant Warden Kevin F. Mayfield has established a pattern of this type of unethical behavior.

Prisoners responded by contacting Carole Seligman who is one of the editors of Socialist Viewpoint Magazine, Noelle Hanrahan the director of PrisonRadio.org, and Michael Novick of Turning The Tide newspaper. Weeks passed by and many of us were discouraged; being isolated and cut off from the public has a debilitating effect on a humyn being, and TDCJ exploits this dynamic to the fullest in order to break the revolutionary spirit of the most advanced and active comrades. In an unforeseen turn of events, we received word that comrades who are members of the Roots Action website, which has over 400,000 members, sent out 20,000 emails to Texas State authorities in order to spotlight abuses and mistreatment of prisoners on Wynne Unit and beyond!!!

A managing editor for a very reputable socialist journal contacted us and stated, "There can be follow-ups to this (email direct action) at various stages. Beyond a certain point, the atrocities may begin to trigger an unwanted level of public attention, which should begin to curb the worst of them, if we can keep the pressure on."

Comrades, we may have not yet reached the level of solidarity and commitment as our California counterparts (I am still highly impressed with 33,000 prisoners from all oppressed nation groups and lumpen organizations sending an emphatic message to the prisoncrats and oppressors of CDCR). Never the less, USW is slowly making proactive and positive strides in order to organize, educate, and motivate the lumpen trapped inside Texas' gulags. Once again, I exhort you to join USW, contact MIM(Prisons), and involve yourself with the most dynamic Maoist organization in the United $tates. I also encourage comrades to expand their horizons and attempt to correspond with free world comrades who support and add strength to our voice. We must continue to battle censorship in Texas. Our revolutionary thoughts and voices are dangerous to the oppressors.

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[Control Units] [Mental Health] [John R Lindsey State Jail] [Texas]
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Fighting for Care of Disabled in Texas

In Jacksboro, Texas, Correctional Corporation of America unit offenders with disabilities are discriminated against per 42 U.S.C. ยง 12132. The use of solitary confinement on prisoners with serious mental illnesses at this jail does not meet state legal standards. Offenders rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as the Eighth Amendment are in dire straits. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) fails to follow policy and laws. Offenders are in their cells 24 hours a day. I was placed in a psychiatric unit in Lubbock, Texas (Montford Unit) from February to September 2013, locked in a cell all the time. Then I moved to state jail and all my medications that I was given by TDCJ doctors were taken away and they told TDCJ they don't allow that medication on this unit.

I am being given the run around fighting this because courts have ruled that private prison corporations are not a public entity merely because they have entered into a contract with a public entity to provide services. An instrument of the state is only a government unit or unit created by a government unit; as such, no title II ADA claims are applicable. The ADA does not apply to private prisons.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We have written extensively about the health effects of solitary confinement which is cruel and unusual punishment even for healthy prisoners. Those with mental health problems are even more dramatically harmed by this long-term isolation. Texas has a history of "treating" prisoners with mental illness with torture. We know that this isolation is a tool of social control in a criminal injustice system that does not care about the health of prisoners. Further, prisons use mental illness and labels, treatment and the withholding of treatment, as another tool of social control. We must fight this with our own institutions of mental health: education, persynal healthy practices, mental engagement and social interaction where possible. In addition to our educational programs and work connecting prisoners with the struggle on the streets, we distribute portions of the American Friends Service Committee's Survivors Manual for people in control units. Write to us for a copy and for more information on how you can plug in to the anti-imperialist prison movement.

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[Campaigns] [Political Repression] [Texas] [ULK Issue 36]
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Pigs in Texas Make Power Move to Silence Revolutionary Prisoner Voices

Background on Campaign to Resist Restrictions on Indigent Correspondence

In a move that caught some of us off guard, the Texas Board of Criminal Injustice has issued an order to drastically change the indigent mail policy within the Texas Department of Criminal Injustice, which runs over 111 Texas state prisons. In August 2013 the board convened and decided that starting October 1, 2013, indigent prisoners will only be allowed to mail 5 general correspondence letters per month! Indigent prisoners were previously allotted 5 letters per week. The primary reason cited for the drastic cut is the financial costs involved in providing postage for the tens of thousands of indigent prisoners housed in Texas prisons. However, there is a very real attack being aimed at the growing number of revolutionary voices that are popping up around Texas to expose the barbaric treatment and inhumane conditions that exist in Texas. It is validation to many of us that our voices are being heard by outside supporters, and this new policy is definitely a retaliatory reactionary response to our activism.

Just this year alone has exposed so many major problems in Texas:

  1. Texas surpassed 500 executions of human beings on June 26 2013.
  2. A wrongful death lawsuit was lodged against Texas in regards to the extreme heat (and the pigs joined the prisoners!)
  3. Texas leads the nation in prison sexual assault and abuse cases

Rashid of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party - Prison Chapter was moved to Texas from Oregon and the internet is buzzing with his detailed report of the mistreatment and abuse he has incurred since arriving in Texas.

Comrades, the U.S. Department of Injustice doesn't give a shit about us. In order to actuate change for ourselves we must unite in solidarity, get active with USW and MIM(Prisons), link up with sincere activists and media outlets who are sympathetic to our cause and "mash the gas" on these oppressors. Texas hates media coverage, so now we are forced to really make our correspondence count. Drop all the letters to organizations that are only offering lip service with no action and get with this movement! Share Under Lock & Key, increase your political study, stand up to the pigs. Don't let the comrades in California be the only true revolutionary soldiers.

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[Download and Print] [Campaigns] [Censorship] [Texas]
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Announcing Campaign to Resist Restrictions on Indigent Correspondence

Sample Grievance
Click on the image to download a pdf of a sample grievance. TDCJ prisoners can use this sample grievance to protest restrictions on indigent mail.

During their August 2013 Board Meeting, the Texa$ Board of Criminal (in)Justice approved a revision to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Correspondence Rules. The rules came into effect with no warning on October 1, 2013.

This new revision restricts indigent prisoners to 5 one-ounce domestic letters per month. It also removed all references to the first 60 days a prisoner is indigent — essentially allowing the TDCJ to collect "indigent debt" indefinitely. The previous policy allowed 5 letters per week and only allowed TDCJ to recoup amounts expended during the first 60 days a prisoner is indigent. This revised policy clearly violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments, especially in light of Guajardo v Estelle, 432 F.Supp 1373 (1977 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16242).

We must proactively resist this policy. Attached is an example grievance that can be filed by TDCJ prisoners. I encourage you to edit, expand, personalize, or revise it. Proactively seek out other prisoners who have the courage to resist this revision. Encourage family/friends/freeworld comrades to contact the officials below and demand that this new policy be repealed:

TDCJ Ombudsman, PO Box 99, Huntsville, TX 77342-0099
[email protected]
936-437-6791

TDCJ Executive Director, PO Box 99, Huntsville, TX 77342-0099
[email protected]
936-437-2101

Senator John Whitmire, PO Box 12068, Capitol Station, Austin, TX 78711
512-463-0115

Governor Rick Perry, PO Box 12428, Austin, TX 78711-2428
512-463-2000

Chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, PO Box 13084, Austin, TX 78711-3084
512-475-3250
Fax: 512-305-9398

Attorney General Greg Abbott, PO Box 12548, Austin, TX 78711-2548
512-463-2100

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, PO Box 12068, Austin, TX 78711-2068
512-463-0001

Speaker of the House Joe Straus, PO Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768-2910
512-463-1000

Another new policy that came out of the August Board Meeting which needs our proactive resistance prohibits prisoners from receiving stationary through the mail, starting 1 March 2014. You will only be allowed to purchase stationary through the commissary. TDCJ is attempting to create a monopoly. Once this happens, they will be able to charge whatever prices they wish for their stationary. Start organizing resistance to this policy NOW!

Fight the System!

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[Hunger Strike] [Connally Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 35]
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TX Close Custody Struggling Over Conditions

The hunger strike that was to start here at Connally Unit on 21 October 2013 has been postponed. The powers that be have had close custody on continuous lock-down after an annual lock-down was lifted. Even though close custody went on lock-down before the rest of the unit, we have remained on lock-down unable to buy stamps and basic hygiene.

However, a planned hunger strike to protest these conditions is temporarily on hold after meeting with the warden who claims that after we get shaken down we will be let off these inhumane conditions. If the warden does not start taking steps to change our status and conditions we have more who will go on hunger strike with us when we start back. Since we have nothing, we have nothing to lose. The seeds are being planted.

Liberty and Justice!

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