Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Texas Prisons

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.

We hope this information will inspire people to take action and join the fight against the criminal injustice system. While we may not be able to immediately impact this particular instance of abuse, we can work to fundamentally change the system that permits and perpetuates it. The criminal injustice system is intimately tied up with imperialism, and serves as a tool of social control on the homeland, particularly targeting oppressed nations.

[Education] [Texas] [ULK Issue 52]

The Echo is a Voice for the Injustice System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Abuse] [Gib Lewis Unit] [Texas]

Retaliation Harassment at Hughes

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

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

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

Fighting uphill legal battles at Estelle

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

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

[Abuse] [Stevenson Unit] [Texas]

Fighting Retaliation with TX Pack Resources

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

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

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

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

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

[Abuse] [Ramsey III Unit] [Texas]

Filth and Neglect at Ramsey III in Texas

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

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

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

[Medical Care] [Michael Unit] [Texas]

Approved Sleeping Aid, But Not Allowed to Have It

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

[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Censorship] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]

Grievances and Excessive Heat

Hey! I’ve been having problems writing grievances on officers. Also the grievances that I write for some reason never get answered or sent to me. An officer by the name of Sergeant Hamlin lost my radio, and it’s been going on 5 months since I wrote a grievance about it with no answer.

I would like to receive the Texas package for writing grievances. Every time a inmate try to write the Warden or Huntsville, the mail room take it away. Even the truck mail we send out.

We been trying to reach out to someone about not having A/C in our cells. The vents are off completely and it’s been between 100 to 95 degrees of heat in Amarillo, Tx. If you would send that package I will be very grateful, of if you could help with these issues also.

[Abuse] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]

No Vitamin D at Hughes

The unit I’m on hardly ever gives us outside rec and we never use the gym. But every day there is an officer in the picket that watches our rec yard and the rec yard on the other side of the wall from us, which is medium custody. Due to them already being medium custody and the officers know they’ll go off cause they’re already locked down most of the day, they give them rec outside. But not us. The sun is a source of vitamin D for our skin.

The help I need is to write this up on a grievance, but I need any kind of cases, policy, whatever you have access to that I don’t have, including proof of medical study, to show being outside is good for you. Several people want to file on it but don’t have anything to cite in our grievances because they never give us rec in the afternoon. If we are lucky we get it in the early morning or night. Please help with whatever you can send ASAP. Thanks for your help again.

[Abuse] [Telford Unit] [Texas]

Choking by Guards

The other day I was attacked by this white boy guard, and he choked me until I passed out. They have it all on camera so I’m going to try to sue this fucked up place.

But the thing is I’m broke and I don’t really have much experience on this or where to start. I really need a dictionary so my spelling will be alright. I was wondering you guys can help me? And if you have any other info that might be of use.

[Legal] [Allred Unit] [Texas]

No Law Library Access in Allred Seg

I see in the Jailhouse Lawyers Manual that the prison library should have a state digest for Texas. I have tried to request this state digest but had no luck in receiving it. Since I am in segregation and can’t get out, we have to rely on the law library staff to fill our requests and bring it to our cells. Most of the time we don’t get anything and the staff will not send us notice of why we didn’t get it. I have been requesting the same case for the past 3 or 4 months and have not received it.

Here on this unit us inmates who are in segregation can’t get the whole books anymore. We have to request by citation cases only. They got a library holding list that’s got all the books but even if I request the master index in order to request the part of the book I need to look through, which they are supposed to photocopy a section of pages to bring to you, they never bring you nothing!

The staff here at this unit law library don’t even know key numbers or statute numbers, and don’t know most of case citation numbers. I have to ask a number of times to receive the Black’s Law Dictionary index so that I may find the part of its pages that I need to research for my case. But never received it.