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)

[Organizing] [Connally Unit] [Texas]
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Prisons Try to Divide; Respond With Unity

Just recently on the John B. Connally unit drastic changes are being made. The administration has been coming down real hard on the already oppressed masses. Not only do they house all the STG (security threat groups) on Building 4, but have divided the whole unit. The dorms which comprise Buildings 18 and 19 house all non-STG and those prisoners who work around the unit. Building 3 houses non-STG prisoners and those in the religious program. Building 7 houses all those not yet qualified to move up on the unit to A-side. Building 7 also houses those prisoners who are less than 10 years into their life sentence and that have over 50-year sentences. Building B houses a mixture as well but they stay on that building with the less fortunate who are kept housed all day in their cells. They eat in the building now that a chow hall was built to accommodate.

This division with the unit capacity of 2,800 prisoners has not only stagnated the progress or process to organize effectively, but has caused those who got it better on A-side to not give much attention to the sufferings of those who experience it much more on B-side. They are ready to cause wars and riots with each other rather than direct that misguided energy towards establishing a union to grieve concerns and make administration hear and act on our behalf.

In expressing such observations, I also know that it is not an easy task, but it can be done even if we are divided. As a whole we are only segregated until we can find better ways to network and communicate and this is why I am encouraged and empowered by your articles and newsletter. There is hope! And it is right here right now!

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[Abuse] [Political Repression] [Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 25]
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Texas Limits Privileges and Denies Grievances

Due to the budget cuts and Governor Perry refusing the stimulus package, in Texas prisons they've attacked those housed here. They ceased serving prepackaged cartons of milk, and went to powdered milk, and now they have attached a fee of $100 annual to medical. If you need medical care you will be charged for a toothache, diarrhea, headache, etc. But what's devastating is TDCJ doesn't pay its offenders money. Instead it uses good time which they take away as a punitive measure, causing you to do more time.

Since TDCJ doesn't reward or pay offenders, money needed has to come from gifts via family, friends etc. In other words they're extorting our loved ones, and this will follow those who parole with money to be paid and attached to parole fees.

Upon being released from the Texas system you'll receive a bus ticket to your county of conviction and $50. Upon reporting to parole you'll receive the second $50 from which parole fees of $12, victim fees, educational fees, and restitution fees will be deducted, so you're to reenter society on a very small amount of money.

Texas's systems practically operate on what they produce themselves for consumption. Clothing, shoes, food, etc., is all made at the multiple units, sent to central stores and resold to each unit.

TDCJ has the offenders scared. They will stack free world time on any act of violence - any kind of unions or solidarity will be attacked as Security Threat Groups and figureheads will be placed in level III Administrative Segregation.

They have sought out to break any sort of groups and unauthorized activities. Since I've been involved in prisoner rights we've lost more than gained: We have lost smoking products, canned goods, beans, meats, fruits, educational classes, GED, college courses, radios with speakers, cable TV, art privileges, and even carton milk. Long hair and facial hair were banned. They hold supposed good time above these bamboozled offenders and make them comply.

I recently received a major rule infraction, just because I told the law library trustee to stop throwing my photocopies on the floor. So he filed a LID (life endangerment) on me: he forged a letter and signed my name to it - saying I asked another to beat him up, so I received a major rule infraction for Penal Code 71-02 Organized Crime. I've filed 4 grievances on his department and security staff for sabotaging my legal request and destroying my letters. All were denied.

So I wrote to the law library supervisor with no response. I then wrote to the senior warden to no avail. The Office of the Attorney General offered nothing, but they found a dummy letter forged and they promptly protected their SSI (Support Service Inmate).

In Texas you're only allowed to file one grievance a week, and I've been here two years plus. I've filed approximately 94 and all have come back denied - no proof.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This story of grievances being denied over and over for legitimate cases is all too common, not just in Texas but in prisons across the country. This is why United Struggle from Within initiated the campaign demanding our grievances be addressed. We currently have petitions for California, Texas, New York, Virginia, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arizona and the campaign is spreading. We need legal researchers to create petitions for other states. And if you are in a state that already has a petition, write to us for a copy and join the campaign to demand grievances be addressed in your state. It's time to destroy the idea that people can effectively go to the state for protection from abuse in prison.

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[Political Repression] [Organizing] [Connally Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 25]
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Peaceful Protest in Connally Yard

On November 14, 2011 in 4 building recreational yard, 20+ prisoners (Brown, Black and white) gathered in an historical moment in the state of Texas. This gathering consisted of different organizations, and was the result of the Connally Unit's continued lack of responsibility:

  1. unsanitized trays in the chow hall
  2. no cleaning supplies for individual cells
  3. lack of nutritious food
  4. medical enslavement
  5. high commissary prices
    etc.

As a result of this peaceful gathering, we were targeted and harassed by the units of "gang intelligence," Ms Gonzalez and 30+ officers, all coming out to the recreational yard and surrounding us as we sat on the ground discussing our reasons for coming together. The unit warden also came out but never asked us any questions as to why we were gathered. I did have a piece of paper stating all the above and more, that Ms. Gonzalez took from me. Ms Gonzalez questioned me as to why this gathering was in place and I simply stated that she needed to read the piece of paper she got from me. But she didn't believe what was on it and stated that we were there because we wanted to start a racial riot. As we sat peacefully with their cameras on us we continued to discuss some of the concerns prisoners had pertaining to the health and well being of every individual.

One by one we were stripped and placed back into our cells. The whole building, which consists of 432 prisoners, got locked down for over 24 hours due to our actions and the administration's lack of understanding.

Seeds were scattered that day and the growth of these seeds we shall continue to maintain for a better tomorrow. We have reason to believe that persistence and dedication will soon give us a beautiful "rose within the garden."

I hope that those who read this article familiarize themselves with past experiences before trying to engage in the same, from the uprisings in the plantation camps, to the more modern times: the Attica uprising and Georgia's historical lockdown December 2010, and the more recent, Pelican Bay fasting this year.

Together we can move mountains!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This severe repression in the face of peaceful protests for modest demands provides a good example of the importance of building a strong and unified prison movement if we hope to fight the criminal injustice system. To further build this unity we are calling on all lumpen organizations to join the United Front for Peace in Prison. The Statement of Principles of the UF includes this first point of Peace, "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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[United Front] [Texas]
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Revolutionary Mandingo Warriors Join United Front for Peace

To an amazing extent, my organization, Mandingo Warriors, would like to put our strength with your strength and unite as one, under one common cause - the United Front for Peace in Prisons. It is our honor to be listed as an affiliate of the United Front for Peace in Prisons.

The Mandingo Warriors are a non-disruptive organization in Texas prisons which was formed to protect each other from harm and defend our community from oppressors. We strive to improve spiritually, morally, mentally, politically and economically. Our concepts and principles are no different than the United Front organization: peace, unity, growth, internationalism and independence. We study and uphold the five principles, our cause is not about self-destruction and mis-educating the people. Instead our purpose is to educate the people and uplift our people from fallen humanity. We will incorporate no different principles into our cause than the United Front's five divine principles. We will help promote peace and unity between factions where we are at on the basis of opposing oppression of all prisoners and oppressed people in general.

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[Gang Validation] [Smith Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 23]
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Fighting False Validations for Colors and Tattoos

I agree with the Texas prisoner on page 14 in Under Lock & Key 22 that the COINTELPRO is still alive in disguise.

At the Smith Unit, Gang Intelligence (GI) tags mostly everybody as gang members. I have a five point star on my neck that says "rising star" because I have a vision of being a celebrity. For this the GI labeled me as a confirmed Blood gang member, and put me on file as such. Also another prisoner had red in his "free world" tattoo with no indication of gang affiliation and still was tagged as a Blood. They confiscated one brother's pictures just because the brother was wearing blue clothes and tagged him as a confirmed gang member. The GI on Smith Unit is out of control.

On the other hand, for all you comrades who are being denied ULK newsletters and other political publications from MIM(Prisons), don't forget to appeal with the Director's Review Committee, and write a grievance for violation of your First Amendment constitutional right to have access to the media. If you have free world support, use it by having them call and talk to the warden of your unit and the mailroom supervisor. If more people use this line of defense it will make these pigs think twice about violating our First Amendment rights because it exposes them to the public eye and word spreads like wildfire. If the GI illegally tags you as a gang/security threat group member, file a step one and step two grievance so you can have some paperwork backing you up. It's called insurance.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade makes an important point about fighting censorship and false validations. If you experience censorship of any political material, you need to let us know, and file an appeal. We have a guide to fighting censorship available to all prisoners who want to help with this important battle.

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[Medical Care] [Prison Labor] [Texas]
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Texa$' Extortion of it's Prisoners Reaches New Heights

Prisoners working for free will now pay $100 per year for healthcare. Governor Rick Perry and the Texa$ legislature have signed a bill into law that will charge prisoners a one hundred dollar per year medical care fee. This new law (Sec. 501.063) will take effect September 1, of this year, and is a desperate attempt by the powers that be in Austin to save money on a prison system housing 160,000 people which is the second largest in the nation.

Charging prisoners for medical care, room and board, etc., is not a new idea; but in contrast to most other states, Texas doesn't pay their prisoners to work. Since Texas prisoners have no way to support themselves while incarcerated, they are financially dependent on friends and family members. It's their money they use to buy items like stamps, fans, t-shirts, hygiene and food items.

The new healthcare law will not only be taking from what little money prisoners get, it's in essence taxing the ones who send them money. If the prisoner doesn't have enough money in their trust fund account to cover the $100 fee, then 50% of all incoming funds will be deducted until the debt is paid in full.

Some prisoners only get 50 or 100 dollars a year - usually for their birthday or Christmas - meaning all that money their families sent and intended for them to have, will be seized by the state for something they shouldn't be charging prisoners for in the first place.

Workplace injuries and ailments due to prison conditions comprise a considerable percentage of prisoner requests for medical care. With the new law, they will be charged to receive medical care for on the job injuries; the same jobs they receive not a dime for.

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[Abuse] [Coffield Unit] [Texas]
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Deaths in Texas Prisons from Heat and Negligence

Five people on the Coffield Unit have been allowed to die due to heat related issues. Now all of the sudden the administration and staff are "concerned" about the prisoners' well being - bullshit or they would have been doing more to prevent needless deaths long ago. Now Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is doing what they call "inmate wellness checks." This is just a real sad attempt (after the fact) to try to cover TDCJ's ass for their lack of concern effectively causing the deaths of inmates due to heat related illnesses (e.g. heat exhaustion, heat strokes, etc.)

We here are only being allowed to shower Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We should be allowed to shower just to cool off (since all Texas prisons are without any air conditioning). We should also have access to ice and cold water, but all of the above is scarce and this unit is observing "water conservation." The heat of Texas summers is not a new thing and neither is the penitentiary system in Texas.

Now the officers are tormenting us by asking every 30 minutes "are you alright", "are you ok?" most insincerely. Yet we are still made to wear very heavy woven cotton clothes in the summer - the same ones we wear in the winter time. Had they ever been truly concerned the five prisoners would have never been allowed to die of heat related illnesses. It is a real shame that so many people had to die before they even acted concerned, it is still hard for me to understand how they avoid any criminal charges behind these deaths.

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[Abuse] [Prison Labor] [Texas]
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United Front Needed to Fight Texas Prison Abuses

I appreciate you sending me the book I had requested. You see, I've got to stay busy to not allow myself to get sucked into the Texas prisoner slave mentality. Just perhaps, being armed with initiative and the right knowledge, I can get these guys minds off of the TV and gossiping, and onto unity and change. It's a very pitiful state here in Texas (no pun intended!) Last week an officer turned off the dayroom TVs during count and left them off for an hour or so. The prisoners went crazy! They were yelling, cursing, making threats and demanding to speak to rank. They're willing to come together and protest over something trivial like the television, but not over important things like parole, our good time and work time being honored, and getting paid to work.

As we know, slavery and capitalism go hand in hand. This is evident because there's no equality; slaves are less than, and whoever is the richest and most famous, their lives are more precious than the common and poor folk. Capitalism takes on a new meaning in Texas prisons. Since we work for free, and the state has enslaved us in their TCI factories to exploit and profit off of us; it's every "offender" for themselves, and some are doing whatever it takes to survive.

While the warden and major sit in their air conditioned offices, and officers are huddled up in the air conditioned pickets, us offenders are sweating like pigs in the scorching hot day rooms and cells. We're running around like savages hustling and conning for a ramen soup, stick of deodorant, a stamp, or a shot of coffee. And the ones who are fortunate enough to have friends and family sending them money to buy stuff from commissary; they're revered, admired, despised, or the next potential victim. Thanks to the state of Texas, petty criminals and first timers become hardened criminals, and whoever has the most money, has either the most power, or has to make the most protection payoffs.

If prisoners were treated as people and paid for their labor like everyone else in civilized society are, they would in turn, act accordingly. There would be real equality, unity and harmony. MIM, please give me some advice on how to make this come about.

On a related topic, I've enclosed my latest timesheet showing I have 213 percent of my sentence completed with all my worthless earned time credits. I want people to view this state issue timesheet so they can see for themselves what a scam this is. The time credits look great on paper, but they're not worth a damn. If they were, I would have been released last February when I reached a hundred percent.

Also with this letter is my last denial letter from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. I want the people to see this too. To see the absolutely ridiculous reasons why we're denied parole and "mandatory supervision." The following is their most absurd: "The inmate has a previous juvenile or adult arrest for felony and misdemeanor offenses." We've all been arrested for a felony or misdemeanor. We wouldn't be in prison if we hadn't. The parole board might as well deny prisoners because they wear white uniforms, since that applies to all of us too.

Truly amazing the Lone Star State is getting away with such widespread and blatant fraud, and exploitation of its prisoners. But, in our capitalist society and capitalist prison system, money and profit always trump humanity and morals.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is correct about the need for unity to fight the injustice in prison. We point everyone to the United Front for Peace in Prisons as a starting point for developing principled unity to fight our common enemy. We do, however, need to point out that the prison economy does not lead to prisons, the state or the imperialists profiting from prisoner labor. It is a system primarily used for social control, not for profit. Though of all states, Texas probably has the most productive industries in prisons, and workers receive no wages, only room and board.

As we concluded in our article in Under Lock & Key 8 on the U.$. Prison Economy: "A number of articles in this issue include calls from prisoners to take actions against the prison industries that are making money off prisoners, and to boycott jobs to demand higher wages. All of these actions are aimed at hitting the prisons, and private industries profiting off relationships with prisons, in their pocketbook. This is a good way for our comrades behind bars to think about peaceful protests they can take up to make demands for improved conditions while we organize to fundamentally change the criminal injustice system."

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[Organizing] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Using ULK to Help Organize and Fight Oppressive Conditions

The ULK will be a great help to me and others to promote education, unity, and legitimate struggle among prisoners in my area. This is an ongoing and continuous task/duty that I, and a few others, have accepted. We need informational and motivational materials such as ULK to help enlighten and recruit others.

One recent example of success: the administration at this facility recently turned off all electricity to the wing I'm housed on - a disciplinary type wing - in violation of state policy, and took all personal fans. I managed to get 3 prisoners to file grievances and 6 to sign an affidavit, which I sent to outside agencies. It took 2 months, but last week the electricity was turned back on and fans were returned.

But, of course, my fan wasn't returned because I was moved to a lower level of housing where there isn't even an outlet. This is my next task, getting outlets in all cells. Additionally, these cells now have padlocks on the doors, in violation of state fire safety codes. I'm in the process of recruiting others to act on that issue as well.

Regarding the petitions against corrupt grievance processes noted on page 12 of the ULK, would you please send me several of them? I've been trying to work on that issue - I have documentation that clearly shows the inadequacy of the process - and the petition might be a great help. I will recruit others to send them.

Thanks so much for the ULK and the motivation.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Write us to get a copy of the grievance petition for your state if you reside in California, Missouri, Oklahoma or Texas, or a generic petition that you can customize for your state if you are anywhere else.

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