Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Texas Prisons

Can you do layout? Help out by laying out pamphlets and study packs to mail to prisoners. help out

www.prisoncensorship.info is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.

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

Allred Unit (Iowa Park)

Beto I Unit (Tennessee Colony)

Bexar County Jail (San Antonio)

Bill Clements Unit (Amarillo)

Billy Moore Correctional Center (Overton)

Bowie County Correctional Center (Texarkana)

Boyd Unit (Teague)

Cameron County Detention Center (Olmito)

Choice Moore Unit (Bonham)

Clemens Unit (Brazoria)

Coffield Unit (Tennessee Colony)

Connally Unit (Kenedy)

Cotulla Unit (Cotulla)

Dalhart Unit (Dalhart)

Daniel Unit (Snyder)

Darrington Unit (Rosharon)

Dominguez State Jail (San Antonio)

Eastham Unit (Lovelady)

Ellis Unit (Huntsville)

Estelle 2 (Huntsville)

Estelle High Security Unit (Huntsville)

Ferguson Unit (Midway)

Formby Unit (Plainview)

Garza East Unit (Beeville)

Gib Lewis Unit (Woodville)

Hamilton Unit (Bryan)

Harris County Jail Facility (Houston)

Hightower Unit (Dayton)

Hobby Unit (Marlin)

Hughes Unit (Gatesville)

Huntsville (Huntsville)

Jester III Unit (Richmond)

John R Lindsey State Jail (Jacksboro)

Jordan Unit (Pampa)

Lane Murray Unit (Gatesville)

Larry Gist State Jail (Beaumont)

LeBlanc Unit (Beaumont)

Lopez State Jail (Edinburg)

Luther Unit (Navasota)

Lychner Unit (Humble)

Lynaugh Unit (Ft Stockton)

McConnell Unit (Beeville)

Michael Unit (Tennessee Colony)

Middleton Unit (Abilene)

Montford Unit (Lubbock)

Mountain View Unit (Gatesville)

Neal Unit (Amarillo)

Pack Unit (Novasota)

Polunsky Unit (Livingston)

Powledge Unit (Palestine)

Ramsey I Unit (Rosharon)

Ramsey III Unit (Rosharon)

Robertson Unit (Abilene)

Rufus Duncan TF (Diboll)

Sanders Estes CCA (Venus)

Smith County Jail (Tyler)

Smith Unit (Lamesa)

Stevenson Unit (Cuero)

Stiles Unit (Beaumont)

Stringfellow Unit (Rosharon)

Telford Unit (New Boston)

Terrell Unit (Rosharon)

Torres Unit (Hondo)

Travis State Jail (Austin)

Vance Unit (Richmond)

Victoria County Jail (Victoria)

Wallace Unit (Colorado City)

Wayne Scott Unit (Angleton)

Wynne Unit (Huntsville)

Young Medical Facility Complex (Dickinson)

[Organizing] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Texas Grievance Investigators Must Be Fired

For the past 6 months I have been attempting to shed light on injustices perpetrated by Texas Department of Criminal Justice correctional officers and administrators against prisoners housed at the high security unit on Estelle Unit located in Huntsville, TX. I have written numerous Step 1 grievances, however, the same Unit Grievance Investigator (UGI) continues to impede, obstruct, and sabotage my quest for justice.

Estelle Unit UGI Mr. Allen Hartley has operated from the stance of nepotism, cronyism, and misplaced comradery. Instead of establishing an objective stance in his handling of my grievances, he has actually entered into a collusive and conspiratorial relationship with prison staff and administration in order to minimize, marginalize, and downplay my claims of injustice.

This is nothing new, comrades in Texas and California have been reporting on this type of behavior for years. MIM(prisons), USW, and some extremely dedicated comrades have come up with a weapon and strategy to combat these corrupt individuals. The grievance petition crafted by a USW comrade in California has been also adopted and utilized by Texas prisoners. I personally have sent a copy of the petition to the Texas state legislature.

The legislative session starts the 2nd week of January 2013. I encourage all comrades in Texas to write the legislature and request that all UGIs in the Texas prison system are fired and that a new streamlined, efficient, and fair grievance department be created. This new system should be managed by the Office of the Inspector General and oversight should be provided by the ACLU of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP).

The point of the matter is this: the grievance procedure in Texas prisons is a farce and a sham. Unit Grievance Investigators are stealing tax payer dollars and violating the public's trust. Comrades are being degraded, humiliated, and abused in Texas every day and no-one is being held accountable for their actions except prisoners! Time and time again I have watched as TDCJ employees commit every crime against humanity you can think of, including murder, and nothing is done. This is bullshit! Please join USW and help get rid of these authors of obstruction.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is proposing an interesting change to the grievance system in Texas, with oversight from independent organizations (ACLU and TCRP). Leaving the grievance process in the hands of the government means it will never truly serve the needs of prisoners, while establishing independent oversight would certainly lead to more accountability and less ease at outright fraud and lies serving the prison employees.

Although fighting for grievances to be addressed is only a reform to gain more livable conditions and organizing space for comrades in prison, it is a campaign that can demonstrate to others our ability to come together to fight for the rights of prisoners. No reform of the grievance system will end the injustice of the prison system in Amerika. These are just the early steps in building a movement for humyn rights in U.$. prisons.

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[Abuse] [Michael Unit] [Texas]
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Unprovoked Beatings of Prisoners in Texas Must be Stopped

I would like to bring your attention to something that's going on here in Texas. There are repeated staff attacks of prisoners in Ad-Seg, and prison staff seem to always get away with this.

On October 16 I was on the rec yard where you can see inside to section 4 day room. A prisoner with a mental illness for which he takes meds was inside the day room. He was sitting at the table and two officers walked inside. He didn't get up from the table, and the officers walked on both sides of the table where the prisoner was sitting down and both of them rushed the prisoner and took him to the floor of the day room beating him, punching him with handcuffs, and using the food slot bar to hit him in the head. They ended up with blood on them from the beating of this prisoner. He lay on the floor and they dragged him from the dayroom in handcuffs and called on the radio that they just had a use of force on a prisoner.

There are many cells that saw this incident in addition to people in the rec yard; a total of 18 people witnessed the beating. But only two people wrote a witness statement. When I asked the two officers why they did this, they told me that this has nothing to do with me, and that the prisoner had this coming.

I write grievances to stand up to staff who hurt people, but the grievances just go right to the ranking officers and they call the officer to invite a statement and the staff just deny it. So the grievance comes back with the staff denying any misconduct and that's the end of it. I talked with other prisoners and told them that the only way to stop this is coming together as one and standing up.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It is ironic that this prison claims that MIM(Prisons) and our USW comrades behind bars are a threat to the safety and security of the institution while violence is carried out by those supposedly ensuring this safety and security. We know that the entire criminal injustice system is set up to defend the actions of guards like those described by this comrade, and it will never be easy to take them down through grievances or lawsuits. Even if we win, it is only to replace one oppressor with another. But we cannot stop fighting the oppression because battles like this one are a good opportunity to educate and organize against systematic brutality. Mass consciousness and mass organizing is the only way to win against oppression. United Struggle from Within comrades across the country fearlessly take on these battles even while knowing that they may face brutal retaliation themselves for standing up for their fellow prisoners. This is truly fighting for peace. As the first principal of the United Front for Peace in Prisons states: We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression.

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[Abuse] [Bowie County Correctional Center] [Texas]
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Fighting Unjust Treatment and Prisoner-on-Prisoner Violence in Texas

In the past month, I've witnessed more prisoner-on-prisoner assaults than grievances filed on the unjust conditions of confinement here at Bowie County Corruptions Center. One week alone had at least three fights with two resulting in serious injuries that sent prisoners to the hospital.

Often these assaults take place when corruptions officers are not present at their assigned stations. These very officers who neglect their duties are also forced or coerced into writing false infractions with forged and falsified statements that make it appear as if they were on their assigned stations during these altercations. It's a lose-lose situation for the prisoner because the prisoners who receive the injuries are usually coerced into pressing charges against the prisoners who assaulted them.

For example, on 21 September, a prisoner-on-prisoner assault took place which resulted in one prisoner being slightly injured. When the assaulted prisoner demanded that ey be removed from the housing unit, it was discovered that ey was in an altercation. But the officer who was assigned to the station was asked about information concerning the altercation and eir whereabouts, and nothing could be said.

According to the injured prisoner, ey was "jumped" by several prisoners. One of the accused prisoners even confronted corruptions officers asking where was the officer assigned to that station? That officer laughed - knowing that ey was not on eir station. The prisoners were threatened with felony assault charges and later received disciplinary infractions. The prisoners were even found guilty on the infractions after thirteen other prisoners wrote statements for the accused.

There have also been officer-on-prisoner assaults such as one prisoner having his collarbone broken and his hip broken. When the prisoner initiated his 42 USC $1983 Civil Rights Complaint, Ad-Mini-$nake$ (administrators) bribed or attempted to bribe the prisoner by ordering that ey be released from their custody while ey was in the hospital. The prisoner still pursued eir complaint.

The majority of problems here at the Bowie County Corruptions Center generate from falsified infractions that officers write when there exists no officers on their assigned sections, therefore, resulting in a rise of tension amongst prisoners.

Though this practice is common in the corruptions system, we must all stay strong in this struggle together and let these situations and conditions be known to those charged with the responsibility and duties to operate these facilities. If nothing can be done on the administrative level and all remedies have been exhausted, seek relief from the courts and write letters to the media and organizations who may be able to help. Eventually justice shall prevail.


MIM(Prisons) adds: While we agree that eventually justice will prevail, we know that reform tactics such as grievances and court cases will only win temporary or small victories for the oppressed. The criminal injustice system will be willing to adjust its tactics of oppression, but it won't be fundamentally altered through legal battles. We need to undertake these legal battles to win some breathing space from the repression in prison for our comrades, but we can not lose sight of the larger battle against the criminal injustice system overall.

To take on the injustice system more broadly, and end the prisoner-on-prisoner assaults that happen daily, we must take up organizing prisoners for unity and peace. Prisoners ultimately can control prisoner-on-prisoner violence, regardless of what the guards do to encourage it. We must build the United Front for Peace in Prisons to truly end the violence. The first principle of this United Front, Peace, addresses directly the problem this writerr talks about above: "WE organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression."

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[Civil Liberties] [Police Brutality] [Texas]
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Anti-food Sharing Ordinance Enforced Aggressively in Houston, Texas

Recently Mayor Annise Parker of Houston, Texas enacted a City Ordinance which makes it against the law to feed more than 5 hungry homeless people at a time. Many may remember that mayor Parker made national headlines by becoming the first openly gay/lesbian womyn to be elected mayor to a major u.s. city. One would think that of all people Mayor Parker would be sensitive to the needs of the oppressed and the poor. Of course this mode of thinking is pathetically idealistic and goes against our scientific method for analyzing and solving problems.

I did a concrete analysis of Mayor Parker's actions since she has been in office, and time and time again she has strategically proposed ordinances which promote a "war" on the poor and homeless. Houston is an international imperialist strong hold. The war profiteers Halliburton and Kellog, Brown, and Root have offices in Houston. There are countless oil companies based in Houston. These companies literally rob and exploit the natural resources of many poor and under-developed Third World countries. Mayor Parker is nothing more than an "agent" for these money hungry imperialists. In Mayor Parker's eyes, the poor hungry masses in Houston are an "eyesore" and more importantly, bad for bu$ine$$!

There are many activists who have balked at this new ordinance. They include an incredibly diverse group of individuals. Socialists, Black Panthers, Anarchists, Christians, Right wingers, and Left wingers, the public at large simply does not like this new ordinance. The benevolent "snake" Mayor Parker told the activists that if they could come up with 20,000 signatures of citizens who do not approve of the ordinance she would consider rescinding it. The activists came up with 34,000 signatures to put the issue on the ballot. Mayor Parker and City Council members conspired to sabotage the activist's ability to be heard and acknowledged at a recent city council meeting. A local judge, named Bill Harris determined that the activists submitted their petition too late!

Police terrorism is alive and well in Houston. The homeless who reside downtown are favorite targets of the abusive Houston Police Department officers. The fine for feeding more than 5 homeless people at a time is $2000 and/or jail! People who usually bring food to feed the homeless are afraid.

More than ever we are in dire need of a revolution that overthrows this wicked and corrupt imperialist system that exploits and takes advantage of the "have nots" of society. It is going to take people who are willing to fight and not negotiate with the enemy.

Notes: KPFT Radio 90.1 FM. S.O.S. Radio show with Brother Zinn, 12 September 2012. Facebook.com/KPFT Houston.

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[Abuse] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 29]
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Prison Officials Tighten the Screws at Estelle Unit

On 31 July 2012, there was a small scale race riot on the Estelle Unit in Huntsville, Texas. One person was killed as a result of the prisoner-on-prisoner violence. We were placed on lockdown for 10 days and were fed the most anorexic brown bag meals I have ever seen. The meals were pathetic and it became clear the administration was implementing a draconian behavior modification tactic on the lumpen underclass who are housed in this slave pen of oppression.

Today, 31 August 2012, I was informed that prison officials have initiated a new regulation having to do with day room time for General Population minimum custody offenders on Estelle Unit. From now on, the day room will be closed from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.! Prisoners who are not working will be "racked up" in their cells during these times. I cannot even begin to describe how oppressive, degrading, and inhumane this new control tactic is.

These prisoncrats in Texas force the prisoners to work for free 8-12 hours a day with no pay or benefits. There is no air conditioning in these small cells in population (my cell in super-seg is quite large though in comparison). Furthermore, anyone who has done time knows one of the keys to getting along with your cellmate is to "miss him" as much as possible. However, this concept is lost on the prisoncrat whose only purpose seems to be to oppress and antagonize the prisoners until they are broken or explode in frustration and anger on each other.

It is my strong belief the lumpen must grieve this policy of oppression and subjugation. Moreover, it is time for some revolutionary activism! No day room = no work. Solidarity amongst the lumpen underclass is a must. Conditions will only improve in Texas when the lumpen see clearly that the "real" enemy wears civilian clothes and confederate army gray uniforms!


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a follow up to the events reported in Texas Guards Encourage Oppressed Nation Fights, where a comrade explains the role of the pigs in promoting fighting between oppressed nations in prison in incidents like this one. That article also discussed the quick response to the food grievances once prisoners came together with one voice. This restriction on day room access seems to be in response to this activism.

We have since received a correction to that previous article: the prisoner killed was Mexican and not New Afrikan as we reported in Under Lock & Key 28.

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[National Oppression] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 28]
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Texas Guards Encourage Oppressed Nation Fights

On or around 31 July 2012 there was a small scale race riot on the Estelle Unit which is located in Huntsville, Texas. Sad to say it was Brown on Black and a New Afrikan prisoner was killed. As a member of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party I hate to see two oppressed groups going at each other while the oppressor remains unscathed and ignored.

Nevertheless, the extremely reactionary prisoncrats took this opportunity to show us what they're all about. About one week after the incident we were placed on a special disciplinary lockdown and fed "Johnnies" seven days a week. These weren't any normal "Johnnies," they were concentration camp like rations. An example of one meal that actually sparked a group demonstration across all color and race barriers was: 1 corn dog, a small biscuit with a sliver of peanut butter and jelly and 10 or 12 raisins! I myself wrote a letter to the Assistant Warden, Steven T. Miller, shedding light on the sub-par meals and asking him if the administration was using food (or the lack thereof) as a means to torture prisoners or as a draconian behavior modification tactic.

Once the administration became aware that the focus was now on them they immediately prepared and delivered more food and I have never ever seen that response before. However, I must say the meals being served were way beneath the caloric intake requirements set forth by the ACA (American Corrections Association). This particular incident took place on 15 August 2012 and it was the last meal served that day.

There is an ugly under-current of racism that exists here in Texas prisons. Many white male officers take pleasure in seeing Brown men and Black men attack each other. As conscious people in struggle against prisoncrat imperialists, we must realize we do ourselves a great dis-service by attacking each other. It is not just about white male officers in Texas, it's about all of them that wear these confederate-army-gray uniforms. They beat us, degrade us, dehumanize us, and refuse time and time again to set us free. Who is the real enemy?

Lastly, one of the main keys to maintaining the peace amongst oppressed groups is respect! We can't talk to each other any kind of way, and we can't treat each other any kind of way! Remember that violation of the rules of respect among human beings can be deadly.

Would you believe that one month prior to this race riot and death white male officers were caught encouraging prisoners to make "shanks"?! The New Afrikan prisoner was killed with a homemade shank! These officers in Texas are very wicked.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It is a sad result of the criminal injustice system in Amerika that oppressed nations must demand the right to peace. But as this, and many other stories from behind bars demonstrate, this is the reality we face. And this is why the first principle of the United Front for Peace in Prisons is Peace. The United Front is fighting to unite the oppressed: "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression."


Correction from the author 9/31/2012: The dead prisoner in this report was not New Afrikan, he was Mexican.

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[Abuse] [Connally Unit] [Texas]
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Forced to Drink Contaminated Water in Texas

[MIM(Prisons) has received several letters from prisoners about the water situation at Connally Unit in Texas. The water is apparently contaminated and is unsafe to drink. As a result, the prison has shut off the water to the cells, creating dangerous conditions for prisoners who have no access to alternative water sources.]

11 June 2012 - The enclosed mandatory notice about our water [which informs prisoners that water must be boiled prior to consumption] was not sent to prisoners at the John B. Connally unit until after about two weeks of having our water supply turned off and on from time to time. Going without water for days is not only abuse but a human rights violation. Prisoners were consuming this hazardous water without any knowledge of it being contaminated! Now they advise us to boil our water before we consume. These people are either stupid or are literally trying to kills us, because we have no appliances to use to boil water.

Another prisoner wrote:
Now that we have this problem with the water they won't give us dayroom time. Just imagine being in this cell 24 hours a day with no sink water, no flushing water, and, the most important one, no drinking water. Personally I don't think that's right at all. We need some justice, but what do you think we should do to get this to improve? For one thing, we need unity in this unit!

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[Prison Labor] [Organizing] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Fighting Trickery and Abuse by Texas Prison Industries

Without a doubt, prison is a microcosm of "free world" society and with that being said, revolutionary-minded men and women who are serious about combating oppression face similar struggles that "free world" comrades face. Earlier this year, on this unit I sat down with two of my comrades to discuss how we could awaken and revolutionize the minds of the proletariat on this particular unit. The proletariat group we were specifically interested in were those who worked in the Prisons Factory/Textile mill on this unit.

What prompted this discussion was the arrival of a new plant manager who was implementing a new oppressive system. Now I want you to remember in Texas, inmates are not paid anything! Some years ago when the feds took over Texas prisons, a question was put forth to offenders "would you like to get paid for your labor or would you like to receive good time and work time credits toward your sentence?" Offenders were bamboozled and hoodwinked into choosing good time and work time credits. I say offenders were bamboozled and hoodwinked for this reason: I have seen numerous men who had time slips that have shown a combination of flat time, good time, and work time exceeding their sentence length! In some cases I have seen time slips in which offenders have served, or more accurately been credited, 150% to 200% toward completion of their sentence. Why are they still here? I thought Texas Department of Criminal Justice had told Uncle Sam they would honor an offender's good time and work time credits. Comrades - they lied!

So with this and other relevant factors considered I came up with an idea for a "flier" to be posted up on every housing block on Estelle urging Black men, Brown men and white men to stand up. Basically I was calling for a work strike to protest the 10 hour work day and the austerity campaign implemented by the new plant manager. Please note in 2011 the Textile Factory at Estelle Unit made about $1.8 million. How many deodorants, toothpastes, or "zim-zims" and "wham-whams" do you think the prison workers received for their labor? Zero, nada, zilch!

In the aftermath conditions improved slightly inside the factory. Prisoners still aren't paid a penny and are treated like scum. However, there is more than one way to skin a cat. With the application of the dialectical problem solving method as well as employing some "covert" tactics the struggle continues, it's just not "televised," or telegraphed.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend the scientific process undertaken by this comrade to think through the contradictions within the prison and figure out what strategies and tactics will be most effective in pushing the movement forward. This is the discussion and debate that we must undertake within each state and prison.

While the proletariat in U.$. prisons is a small minority (see previous articles on prison labor), these types of organizing strategies are useful in many situations where prisoners are employed in running the prisons themselves.

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[Control Units] [Gang Validation] [Texas] [ULK Issue 27]
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New Prisoners Isolated as Security Threat in Texas

The control units here were designed for prisoners the state couldn't control physically. Later it became a place for those it couldn't control mentally as well. Example: I was placed in Administrative Segregation immediately upon my arrival in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) because of tattoos. These were used to confirm me as a member of a Security Threat Group (STG). I don't deny I am a member of [an organization]. However TDCJ made it a rule violation to be a member of any STG. All members are placed in isolation, no matter if they participated in clashes or not. I was never given a chance in population nor is any other confirmed member of any STG. We are all judged on the actions of others who are/were incarcerated.

If an organization will give over a list of its ranking structure and work with the state, then the label of STG may be removed. Prisoners can return to population if they participate in Gang Renouncement and Disassociation. Yes, it's a program and they attempt to program the individual. It's straight up brain washing.

All organizations (or gangs as they call them) were in population somewhere. Only by their own actions should they be segregated, admitted to the Special Management Unit or ADX.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Across the country prisoners are placed in isolation based on labels the prison imposes on them. Often this has to do with who the prison administration thinks they associate with, and nothing to do with the prisoners' behavior as described above. Either way, these isolation cells are torture, causing many to become both physically and mentally sick. MIM(Prisons) is keeping one of the most comprehensive counts of control units as a part of our campaign to abolish control units. To help collect statistics for your state write to us for the control unit survey.

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[Organizing] [Campaigns] [Texas]
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Grievance Petition Spreads in Texas

I got the grievance petition, and I need more. 350 copies is only enough for 35 people, and I've got 144 on my pod x3 pods my building x8 so send me some more please.

Also, I got a reply from the state bar of Texas. They sent info on how to complain about your [state-assigned] attorney that we can use for the grievances in TDCJ.

I did get a response in person from the grievance regional investigator in a personal interview. They basically told us to keep filing grievances and they will work on problems.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this comrade for his ambitious work to spread the Texas grievance petition to every prisoner in his institution. But it is quite costly for us to make so many copies and send them in so we need to encourage everyone to make their own copies if possible. We know that sometimes this will not be possible, and if this is the case for you please explain why and we will try to supply you with the necessary copies.

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