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.

[Censorship] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]

September 9 Day of Unity Marked by Censorship

I come to you with information concerning the Texas Department of Criminal In-Justice's new tactic recently being used on this particular plantation in the mailroom. We are now dealing with due process denial without the use of notification of current issues of Under Lock & Key, specifically No. 45 July/August 2015, being "on hold" pending further review. This to me is new. And others here in segregation/SHU have not noticed this before either.

Today, 9 September 2015, I finally got an answer to a request to mailroom supervisor who generally allows me and others issues regardless. But I had wrote asking if there had been a problem with issues 45 and 46 because I have yet to receive either. On this day of prisoner unity she advised me that Huntsville (headquarters) placed a hold on issue 45. Not a denial but a hold. No longer are individual mailrooms denying subs of any type. It would seem they've began to target us for as far as she knows, MIM(prisons) is the only one whose publications are subjected to this on her printouts.

I've got a small assortment of random issues of ULK from 2011-15. And most are consistent to national and world current events. What troubles the pigs right now is the current awareness on social media of police brutality and the black lives matter campaign. I do not see liberal or conservative opinions in newspapers being scrutinized and "on hold" or denied, no other news or world report publication is being denied. It is the anti-imperialist Maoist publications being targeted. I am rather new to the cause and collective struggle, not the knowledge though. Am I just now experiencing something "old" but new to me here in TDCJ?

[Education] [Abuse] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 47]

Message to Clements Unit: to Continue to Exist We Must Resist

Folks are dropping dead like flies here in Clements Unit. Due to a faulty grievance system and benign inspector general investigations, the whole entire unit staff are literally getting away with murder. It seems like when one pig gets in trouble he/she gets promoted. Take officer (now Sergeant) Garret E. Rockholt for instance. In 2013 he cold cocked a prisoner in the medium custody unit of this prison. Not only was he caught red-handed, this incident gained him praise and eventually got him promoted to a Sergeant in the Ad-Seg building where he walks around with his chest out boasting about his charades as a former Officer.

Next we have Officer (now Sergeant) Desmond Finney. As an officer he had a reputation for beating and slamming handcuffed prisoners. Notably, one ended up with black eyes and another had a tooth knocked out. Not only was he beating our peers but he also denied several the chance to eat whenever he worked the pod. Now this clown has been promoted to Sergeant and the deck for corruption is constantly getting stacked.

These are just a few examples of the rewards for bad behavior that need to stop. But comrades it's going to take more than just words and hope. Unity is key and unity is mandatory with any effort towards changing prison conditions and prison behavior. We can't afford to let differences between one another dictate how pervasive things get and we need to focus on how to liberate one another. As comrade Mao said, "to gain public opinion and seize power."

Since 2013 we've had one peer murdered, one left to die, one found in his cell where he'd already been dead for several hours, one left with a broken arm and another a broken finger. None of these instances were peer-on-peer attacks; they were all due to the intentions and neglect by the very pigs that are supposed to prevent these things from happening. It's obvious that we can't count on them to protect us, so the only obvious alternative is to protect each other collectively and with honor.

Getting involved in study groups and reading, learning, and teaching the works of Marx, Lenin, and Mao is sure to create an understanding of how to lead. So if you haven't begun to study and don't know where to start, if you've read this you just began.

MIM(Prisons) adds: Study groups are an excellent way to build unity and political leadership. Getting people to agree that unity is good is pretty straightforward, but building a long-lasting movement that's strong enough to stand up against all obstacles put in our way requires deep political study. We run correspondence study groups and also support prisoner-led study groups behind bars. Write in to get materials for either of these methods of study.

For prisoners of the Texas Department of Criminal inJustice (TDCJ) there is also an activist pack which has info on the various campaigns United Struggle from Within has running in TDCJ. This activist pack doesn't just contain information to help fight for your rights; it is a great organizing tool to share with others in your facility to get people working together and building tangible unity.

We hope to develop activist packs for other states where comrades are fighting similar struggles. In Texas the campaigns center around the inability to have grievances properly addressed, a $100 medical copay for healthcare, and a limit on indigent envelopes to 5 per month. If you have an idea for a campaign and resource that can be developed in your state, write in to get involved. If you're in Texas, you need to get this Texas activist pack! It's costly to print and mail so if you are able to send us a donation, that would be greatly appreciated.

[Abuse] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas]

Ferguson, a Condemned Unit

I've told every CO or ranking officer about my sink not working. I haven't had any drinking water in almost a month. I've been in this cell without a light for about 3 months. They are lazy and won't do anything unless they have to. This unit should have been closed down years ago. The plumbing sucks everywhere. The medium custody blocks are always dirty with discarded food, trash, bird crap and so on. The environment we live in is completely nasty.

I used to write grievances and found out real quick they don't work at this unit. The COs and ranking officers and wardens come together and tell their stories and everyone believes them. The grievance people believe every word they say and don't do any other investigation. It's not right. People give up writing them cause they get discouraged. I know cause I'm one of them. But I'm sick of them always winning even when they are in the wrong. I would like some help and advice on how to write them up. Please help me?

I also just found out that our property has been in the gym since 2 July and people's property was stolen. That's why we haven't got our property back. The windows on C-block where I live are broken and left there in the frames, putting us at risk of being cut.

[Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]

Attacking From All Angles

I have been in the Texas state prison system for 35 years. I am President of the Aryan Rebels organization. We are not based on racial ideology and we will work with any person, group or organization to establish peace and unity amongst all people. You state on the bottom of page 2 to contact you for additional materials to educate our members. I would greatly appreciate it if you could please send me such.

I do believe in the five principles you set for the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP). I have been in prison since the age of 20, and I am now 55. In the years I have been down I can truly say that the biggest problem amongst prisoners is their conflict with each other. I have tried to teach this principle to youngsters coming into the system many times. Sometimes it takes hold and sometimes it doesn't. Here in the Texas prisons mostly everything that has been taken away from us such as the canned goods in the commissary, belts, etc. we did it to ourselves. Our enemy is the government.

At the beginning of April 2015 I filed a Section 1983 Civil Rights lawsuit against the Director of TDCJ in Federal court. Two weeks later I received a letter from an attorney with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama regarding the possibility of his organization getting involved. This letter was given to me at 8:30 a.m. and had been opened.

One hour later a male guard came to my cell and told me to "strip out for cell search." I was handcuffed and taken to the one-man shower. A female guard named Kelly J. Sooter came into the section with a red chain bag and she and the male guard went inside my cell where they stayed for over an hour. When I was escorted back to my cell I noticed my New Balance tennis shoes were gone. My Civil Rights law books, Jailhouse Lawyers Manual and Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook, my hardbacked dictionary, 11 novels, 8 typing ribbons (4 were brand new), my headphones and nail clippers were all gone. I asked the male guard (Seth G. Kelin) why they were taking my property and he replied "I have never had any problems with you. But it's plain that someone higher up is pissed at you about something or other. I'm only doing what I'm told."

I got my typewriter out to file a Step One Grievance and then noticed a few pieces had been broken on it in the search, so I had to file the grievance by hand. I also wrote a letter to Warden Barry L. Martin here at the Clements Unit and told him what went down. I requested the return of my property and Civil Rights law books but so far nothing has been done. I already have the 42 U.S.C. 1983 Civil Rights forms filled out and ready to file. I'm just waiting on my Step One and Step Two grievances to go through the process, as I know they will be denied as always is the case.

MIM(Prisons) adds: We appreciate that this comrade does what they can to defend their rights as well as build unity in Texas prisons. This report is an example of many challenges we face in doing just that. When trying to educate our fellow prisoners, they sometimes are on board and sometimes aren't. When we attempt to use the legal system to protect ourselves, the administration flexes.

We try to use the legal system to our advantage whenever possible, but ultimately we know that's not going to bring an end to our oppression. From the rubber stamping of grievance denials to the nepotism within the criminal injustice system, the cards are clearly stacked against us.

We've given up on the idea of reforms for any meaningful change (and anyone who has studied even a little Amerikan history should be able to provide examples of this failed strategy). Instead we know we need to overthrow and dismantle the entire Amerikan government and the economic system that supports it. That's a long-term goal, and in the shorter term we work to build unity amongst prisoners toward that goal.

We need to be able to name (and overcome) reasons for why sometimes our attempts to educate younger prisoners works, and sometimes it doesn't. As social scientists, and the vanguard revolutionary organization working within U.$. prisons, it's our responsibility to address these barriers to our success. Bourgeois influence in this country is strong, so we don't expect to win everyone who's locked up over to our side. But in addressing these barriers in a systematic way, rather than leaving it to chance, we are more likely to have success, and more quickly.

We are working on this exact project within the context of our forthcoming book on the lumpen class. So far for this book we have completed a class analysis of the lumpen in the United $tates, which we are distributing as a draft chapter of the book. The next concept we aim to tackle is incorrect ideologies amongst the lumpen, which are some of our main challenges to organizing the lumpen around projects that are otherwise in their interests. All prisoners have a material interest in an end to prisoner-on-prisoner violence, even if they are benefitting from this violence now. Incorrect ideologies and bourgeois influence are what we need to overcome to build he UFPP to its fullest capacity.

[Abuse] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas]

Many Abuses at Ferguson Unit

Below is a description of many problems at Ferguson Unit:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The fun never stops for a Texas inmate.

[Abuse] [Texas]

Provocation and Prosecution

On August 19, 2013 I was assaulted by TDCJ-CID officer K. McInnes. This officer sprayed me in the face with chemical agent for nothing. As a result, I defended myself and I was locked up for "assaulting an officer without a weapon with serious injuries." I was placed in 11 building, solitary cell, and not allowed to decontaminate myself. No investigation of the offense report (I-210) took place, no officer came and obtained my statement for the offense report, and I did not find out about the case until I was served by the substitute counsel. No one has brought up the fact that the officer assaulted me from the beginning by spraying chemical agent in my face for nothing, which resulted in my actions.

Additionally, facts show per policy that I was wrongfully charged with the offense of "serious" injuries when there were none. Policy states that serious injuries are sutures, stitches, fractures, or hospitalization. See AD 04.11 Security Precaution Designators. There were only bruises and a headache with no hospitalization.

As you should know I was found guilty by a biased disciplinary hearing officer. I was punished to the max, but as a result of this action I did over one hundred days in the same solitary cell, and refused my property even though I was not given property restriction. All grievances were denied, even though the answers and actions taken were against policy.

On 21 August 2013, I filed by sending my criminal complaint with affidavit to the Anderson County District Attorney against the TDCJ-CID Officer K. McInnes for assaulting me. On 3 October 2013, the District Attorney referred my complaint to the Office of Inspector General in Huntsville, Texas. As a result, I was read my rights by the Michael Unit OIG Officer Campos, which resulted in criminal charges being filed on me by TDCJ-CID or the State of Texas for "assault on a public servant." I was offered 17 years on this charge, but it is enhanced to 25-99 years or life, because of my priors. All this comes about because I filed criminal charges against the officer for her actions, which were unlawful.

I seek your assistance, because I have no family or friends that will help me, and I have no funds on which to hire an attorney on this matter. And I have no money to file a suit in this matter either, because I am barred from filing suit without the full payment, as a result of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. I need your help as soon as possible, because my next court date is set for 26 October 2015, and I have been notified by the state counsel that after this date the case will be set for trial.

[Religious Repression] [Hamilton Unit] [Texas]

Undermining Religious Freedoms

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

[Medical Care] [Stringfellow Unit] [Texas]

Texas Cuts Prisoners' Medication to Save Money

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

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

[Organizing] [Texas] [ULK Issue 46]

Plan of Attack on Texas Hiding Grievance Manual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clemens Unit Complaints

Grievance Petition Update

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

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

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

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

Obstruction of Grievance Process

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

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

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

Rat and Roach Infestation, Rotten Food

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

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

Unkept Facilities and Supplies

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

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

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

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

Guards and Medical

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

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

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