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)

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] [Texas] [ULK Issue 14]
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Snitch strategy backfires

When will prisoners stop repeating the same errors? I'm referring to the different examples where prisoners declare and promise to be the ones to contribute to change prisoners violations, inhumane conditions or prison problems? Then you realize that everything was only a trap. You burn your brain out trying to figure out how you became an oppressor, an enemy of prison change, or prison progress. That bunch of idiots who you thought were down/hard core prison reformers or revolutionaries, as always turn out to be only real cowards, or snitches. Functioning under lie after lie, to control you somehow.

Under the prison system, prisoners are turned into oppressors. A recent example is a group of prisoners devoted to snitching. They keep their Laundry List, as it is called, of targets for repression. They operate under sentencing guidelines 5K1.1 that has been ruled by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional. Under this guideline, they receive preferential treatment in exchange for snitch info. Prison informants usually turn in false information to the prison administration so they can get away with disciplinary infractions or other kinds of illegal actions.

Other city homeboys and I decided to infiltrate the snitch group that claimed they were against prison gangs, even though the group itself was acting as an undercover snitch prison gang that wanted prison protection in exchange for snitch info. They took it to another level: they turned in false info to the administration to lock up gang members or any prison group they feared, violent or not. If you didn't want to be a snitch you would end up in Ad-Seg, on lockdown, usually under false info. So now many sit in Ad-Seg, misclassified to prison gangs they never belonged to. The only way to get out of Ad-Seg in Texas is to denounce a gang. How do you denounce a gang you never belonged to?

Let's recall some of the Texas prison struggles. In 1974 the Texas prison system had no prison gangs, but officials had "Building Tenders" (BTs) carrying out all kinds of violence against other Texas prisoners. The BTs acted as prison guards dressed in white prisoners uniforms. They were allowed to get away with anything, even killings.

In 1976 the first Texas prison gang popped up, promising to go against the BTs, in an act of retribution that would present a better challenge for prisoner rights. The honorable United States Judge William Wayne Justice decided to abolish the BTs system, under a federal court ruling. With the BT system dead, other prisoners in Texas formed themselves into hostile prison gangs.

At the same time racist riots popped off across the Texas prison system because each cultural group was against each others' strategies to defend prisoners' rights. A "we got the better strategies for prison reform" mentality blossom up because "my" race or city is always better than "yours."

Today in the 2000s this group is the New Building Tenders. Yet their snitch, or rather false info, tactics against other prisoners has now backfired in their face because the ex-gang members continue to grow and have become a group that can't be placed in Ad-Seg unless they return back to their old gangs.

Once a Laundry List is turned in with all kinds of prisoners' names, 99.5% of the time they are placed in Ad-Seg. So the snitches proclaim to be doing a great job against Texas gangs. The prison system refuses to classify them as a gang so they cann't be placed in Ad-Seg as long as they stay in line.

Under the sentencing guidelines 5K1.1 methods, it allows the government (in this case the prison security threat office) to recommend a downward departure from the guidelines. In this case disciplinary reports given to prison informants, in exchange for substantial assistance provided to the government by a prison informant in the prosecution of others.

The availability of a benefit by cooperation with the government (prison administration) can create a strong incentive for a criminal defendant (prison informant) to exaggerate or even fabricate false info against another prisoner, which is usually acted upon without real facts or evidence.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Most lumpen organizations(LOs) have their origins in youth from a certain group banding together in self-defense. Originally, it was always self-defense from the oppressor nation who terrorized them to keep them outside of the labor market. Once the prison boom launched off the backs of the oppressed nations, then the need for self-defense from constant state harassment and brutality was needed. But the broader the organizations of the oppressed were, the more they were targeted for repression and destruction, leaving only the small, narrow-focused groups who were more easily turned against each other, especially after crack cocaine was thrown in the mix to create real economic competition between the groups.

Amerikkka has always repressed LOs because they represent a power of the oppressed that is independent of the state. When mere membership in an organization triggers the state to throw you in a torture cell, you must realize that something serious is going on.

Many people on all sides recognize that the struggle and strife between LOs got out of control a long time ago. Many among the lumpen have been critical of their current and former affiliations. As we said to the LOs in the last issue of ULK, the best way to stop snitching is to run an organization that the oppressed can respect, especially if you are recruiting people by claiming to represent the struggles of the oppressed in some way. Criminal organizations will never have a shortage of snitches, especially when the state is much more powerful than them.

Another issue brought up in this letter is the emergence of "anti-gang" organizations, which is not an uncommon thing. The writer asks how we can stop repeating the same errors and getting fooled into following false leaders. Well, the answer is by studying and establishing principles based on your studies that you always follow. One key principle of the anti-imperialist, or anyone hoping to serve the oppressed, is not to collaborate with the oppressor's state. That principle would prevent anyone with genuine intentions from joining a snitch group like the one discussed here.

Traditionally, Marxism considers the lumpen to be a fickle ally. They are often at the forefront of conflict, but have served many different class interests. Their lifestyle and conditions promote an individualism that is easily translated to snitch behavior. Note that the unnamed group discussed here is reportedly large and diverse and this story does not necessarily represent all groups going by that name, which is indicative of this individualist, fickle nature. As this comrade also points out though, among the oppressed, the snitches are the minority. So with good organization and correct principles, the interests of the oppressed will win out.

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[Organizing] [Prison Labor] [Texas] [ULK Issue 14]
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Our Unity vs. their Crisis

In today's prison society, prisoners are losing constitutional rights at an alarming rate under either the security rationale or the rehabilitation rationale. Yes, our United States Supreme Court has effectively shut the constitutional door on prisoners and individuals charged with crimes. A fair trial is now impossible as any misconduct by the prosecutor is considered "harmless error." Additionally, many individuals plead to charges they have not committed due to judicial extortion; "Take this five years or we're going to give you 99." It's all sad, but reflects the state of our society and country as a whole, and the corrosion of our criminal justice system.

In the newsletter, I read that many prisoner have begun food strikes; one wanting to commit suicide, the others want to sign a petition. The sad and unfortunate truth is, none of these work. Yet there is a way to be heard that is peaceful and has a dramatic effect.

Prisons are run by prisoners from laundry, food service, landscaping to maintenance of the institution. Additionally, many prisoners work in industries that manufacture anything from stop signs, chemicals to office furniture for the state and the prisons themselves. What if we were to just stop? Yes, stop supporting the imperial system that oppresses us at every level? Incarceration costs would rise exponentially overnight. Correctional officers would have to be hired to pick up where the inmate population left off. The cost of incarceration would be so great that states could not afford to incarcerate people en masse as they do today. Until the prison population itself makes a stand against the draconian justice and prison system, they will continue to lose the most basic and fundamental rights inherent to man.

My brothers and sisters, it is us, the prison population that runs and perpetuates the injustice of the justice and prison system and it is we who can peacefully break its back. The courts have failed us; the politicians have failed us; our country has failed us. Must we continue to fail ourselves? Must we continue to be dehumanized, degraded, mistreated and tortured so others may prosper and/or be entertained? It's time to see this realistically and stand together peacefully, to battle an unjust system as one. Martin Luther King once said, "The ultimate measure of a man [or woman] is not where he [or she] stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he [or she] stands in times of challenge and controversy." Are you a person of character who can stand as one or individually in the face of adversity? If we can't stand together as one then no matter what we do, we lose. Give some thought to this. All that's necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We couldn't agree with this comrade more that there is no real justice to be had by the class system of imperialism. We don't expect petitions to solve the heart of the problem, though we may achieve partial victories. And we've already cautioned comrades that hunger strikes without outside pressure and support tend to be ultra-left tactics that can lead to sacrificing of lives.

But as we explain elsewhere, petition campaigns are two-pronged. One prong is to improve our ability to organize by fighting winnable battles, and the other prong is agitational to expose the state's repressiveness.

The facts behind this comrade's proposal are solid, as we discussed in ULK #8 on prison labor. And the argument is particularly strong as most state's are facing extreme financial shortages. They cannot afford to run their prisons if the labor aristocracy must do all the work.

However, in most cases, the level of unity does not exist to carry out this tactic effectively. Another comrade who proposed this same strategy simultaneously complains about this reality. Again, this is where more agitational work comes into play, like petitions, lawsuits and even small fund drives that some comrades have led. These things establish unity among people on the issues. With that unity, we can begin to talk about mass actions, such as boycotts.

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[Medical Care] [Abuse] [Texas]
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Race and Abuse in Texas Prisons

The Texas prison system is fucked up. We were the last state to get telephones in the units. Our governor called phone privileges pacifiers. We inmates have so few privileges it is sad. I believe we are the only state that doesn't pay the inmates to work. we get "good time credits" but the good time credits don't count if you are an aggravated offender or if your custody level is high.

Texas definitely endorses slavery. If you refuse to work they take away what few privileges we do have. I have now been in this cell for three weeks without drinking water. If I want any water I have to get it out of the toilet like I am a dog. Grievances don't work here because when we get them back they all have the same answer on them "officer denies allegation no further action will be taken at this time."

Censorship is crazy here. They ban books by Mao, Lenin and Stalin. But we can get books on genocide, ethnic cleansing, Adolph Hitler, and the K. I have actually seen a book called The Hitler We Loved and Why by Christof Friedrich and Eric Thompson. Friedrich is a Nazi sympathizer and should have been imprisoned for his active role in genocide. I am including an article from the Austin American Statesman on the redundancy of the censorship. The article is titled Variety of Books Banned in Prison.

Medical conditions here are no better. Back in January I was being treated for H. Pylori virus. It is a virus that lives in well water. The system has prevented us from filing a class action lawsuit on it. They claim that we could have got it in the free world. While I was being treated for H. Pylori half the unit along with myself came down with the Novo Virus. The officials said that we got it from the food. What I can't understand is why only half the unit came down with it and the other half didn't.

Now I want to take a little time talking about racism. It is not just corporate white colonizers that are the bigots. But it goes on in every nationality. We need to set aside skin color and look at the bigger pictures. Communist leadership and rule was formed to go against imperialism and capitalist bullshit. It is not a movement against whites. From what I understand, Marx, Lenin and Stalin were all white. There are too many people of the Latino and Black race who are caught up in the imperialist and capitalist movement for it to be only the whites to be put down like they are in some of the articles. When it comes to the U$ imperialists the only color that I can see is green. So stop hating on skin color. The only way we can make a change is to put race aside. Remember, we are all red inside.

MIM(Prisons) responds: While we share this reader's call for unity among all people fighting for communism, we do not agree that whites should be equated with other nationalities within U$ borders. The reality of Amerika is national oppression, and whites enjoy the role of oppressor. Historically, being Amerikan has been defined by pseudo-scientific ideas of race. As other groups become more integrated into the amerikan nation, the idea of race could become less significant, but Amerika would still be the oppressor nation.

We don't believe in race, so we would never say that whites can't join the revolutionary struggle, but when we talk about whites as a group we have to recognize their role as an oppressor nation. Whites do have to work against their national interests to join the revolutionary struggle. Similarly, all free U$ citizens have class/economic interests that they must work against to join the revolutionary struggle.

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[Campaigns] [McConnell Unit] [Texas]
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TDCJ: File Grievance to Fix Grievance System

04/09/2010

This is a response to the grievance petition a Texas participant sent to the TDCJ Ombudsman Coordinator. The same information was mailed as a response from the TDCJ Executive Director as well.

"If you wish to comment on the effectiveness and credibility of the grievance procedure, write a letter or send an I-60 Request form to the grievance investigator on your unit, or file a Grievance regarding that issue...

"If you have already pursued this issue through utilization of Step 1 and Step 2 of the Offender Grievance Procedure; no other administrative remedies are available to you on this issue at this time and you may pursue the matter in any manner you choose outside the Agency."

Basically, the TDCJ administrators claim no responsibility for a grievance procedure that is completely broken. These letters show that they will not grant us what is just without a power struggle. We push forward the campaign for the proper handling of grievances as a means of bringing these lines in the sand into plain view.

History shows that the most effective way to end all oppression — including the oppression of mishandled grievances, and beatings endured because of filing grievances against staff — is to work toward building a communist society. History also shows that the best way to do this is by organizing ourselves into revolutionary factions and building public opinion for national liberation struggles.

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[Spanish] [Texas] [ULK Issue 15]
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Rap Chicano y el lenguaje contra la asimilacón

Pensé escribir con respeto a su décima edición que recibí y disfrutí mucho. Con respeto al tema principal "hip-hop", el cual no soy aficionado, hice un buen reflejo a como la cultura dominante conocida como el angloamericano explota a las clases bajas, y/o, los grupos minorías. Aunque la cultura angloamericana es la más común en sus influencias, los capitalistas que forman parte de esta clase angloamerican no tienen respeto ni a su propia raza y cultura cuando se hablan del símbolo del dinero.

Siendo nacido en los años 50, yo formaba parte del movimiento de los derechos civiles para los Chicanos durante el período entre el medio de los años 60 hasta el comienzo de los años 70. Por eso, me dí cuenta de que mi raza estaba harto de la supresión de nuestro ser y cultura cometido por parte de los angloamericanos. Lo que la raza angloamericana queria de nosotros los habitantes del area sudoeste de los E.E.U.U. fue la asimilación cultural, ¡punto! La asimilación no funciona para la mayoria de nosotros, con solo un poco integrando en la sociedad angloamericana. Sin embargo, me preocupen esos pocos que se asimilaron. Estos "asimiladores" no hicieron nada más que imitar a otros que vivían antes los cuales olvidaban su propia cultura porque solo se interesaban tener conocimientos deliberados del proceso de asimilación angloamericano.

Antes de mi encarcelamiento en 1990, la música "rap" era muy conocida y ya se estaba entrando muy fuerte en los mayores ciudades metropolitanos de Texas. Mientras yo cumplía con mi sentencia en los añs 90, este típo de música progresé y evolucioné mucho. Observé que la rap estaba bien mirado y oído, con muchos de mi Raza imitando las expresiones (lenguaje) de la cultura hip-hop que estaba penetrando por todas partes de la sociedad del mundo libre hasta las instituciones penales. Me costó mucho trabajo saber que estos aficionados de rap no puedieron hablar, ni entender su propio lenguaje, español (ni siquiera el más util Spanglish, Cali, o Pachuco). Reflexionando en todo eso, me dí cuenta de que el culpable de esta forma astuto de asimilación angloamericano fue el capitalista angloamericano quien controla las medias de comunicación para el propósito de destruir cualquier cultura que no sea igual a la suya.

Aunque yo en este momento considero el rap "Chicano" que origina de California como una forma de luchar contra el proceso de asimilación, los capitalistas anglosajones no han adoptado ni aceptaron esta forma de "expresión" Chicano (ni "rap" Latino, en general). El autor o editor del trabajo escrito titulado "Hip Hop: Living Culture or Commodity?" en ingles o Hip-Hop: ¿Cultura viviente o mercancía? nos enseñó muy bien como un capitalista y la sociedad dominante angloamericano son capaces de destruir otras culturas cueste lo que cueste. Pero al leer esta composición, ví que el discurso no discutía como la comercialización angloamericano del "hip-hop" en el corriente principal tiene como agenda la eliminación del lenguaje cultural de cualquier persona.

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[Organizing] [Texas]
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Living Unity

The most common reasons brothers in Texas and many other states will not unite on their plantations is because of race. And the fact that they feel we can't win regardless of what we do or how hard we fight. I feel also it's because they are scared of what would happen if we did win. It could also be that they are scared of what they might learn about the next race and feel about the next race after we unite.

It's common to hear somebody say "I can't say nothing because he not my race." But in most cases they wouldn't speak up if the next man was. Many people claim to have the upmost "love & respect" for their "people". But would not hesitate to hurt one of their "people" over a bag of coffee or a two dollar bet. What a way to show that you love your "people."

But it never mattered and never will matter who your "people" are, or what race we are. Because in truth we are one and the same. We are oppressed and walking a thin line on each and every plantation. So it's sad to see the New Afrikans and Latinos fight and bicker over nothing. Because we all know that New Afrikans and Latinos come from very similar backgrounds and struggles. But most of us are scared of unity between the two, simply because we are scared of the unknown.

So in result we'll hear brothers, black and brown, preach unity with so much passion. They'll go so far as threaten the slave masters with unity and scream about taking a "stand." but will never actually live out this "unity" they stress is so important. Because they feel we can't beat the "man" anyway. But how do we know unless we try?

So what we fail to realize is that we become the man. When we help to oppress our brothers. So what we really are is the oppressor talking about unity! Now most will say "I'll never oppress one of my own." But will turn an eye when somebody is being extorted just because he's not "tough enough." Or keep walking when we see an "inmate" being beat by the slave masters. Then get back on the block and say "that would never happen if we show unity."

So we end up right where we started "talking" about unity. But in truth it's not about "talking" about or showing unity. It's about living unity. But not just when the slave masters are watching. But in every thing we do, how we live, and how we care ourselves. Regardless of race, families, gangs, and where's somebody's from. Once we begin to live unity amongst ourselves it will begin to manifest itself. And then reveal itself in the most important times.

So when we talk about organizing "strategies and tactics." We should focus on how to get everybody to start living unity instead of just talking about it.

MIM(Prisons) adds: We would add to the thought "how do we know unless we try?" that there is reason to have strategic confidence when we embrace internationalism. As a small oppressed group, how can we end oppression? But most people in the world are oppressed by imperialism, and MIM(Prisons) has confidence that billions of people are stronger than the wealth and technology of the imperialist powers. By strategizing together we can begin to build the unity necessary to make that victory a reality.

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[Abuse] [Censorship] [Texas]
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Property set fire by prison guard

I'm currently caught up in a property situation. Last month one of these pigs and I had an altercation which resulted in the CO setting my property on fire. He also gave another prisoner some of my property as payment for setting the fire for him so that he could burn my property. It took 2 1/2 weeks before the major notified me about my property and he only notified me because he knew that the "grapevine" dropped dime to me the day after it happened.

See, after the aforementioned altercation took place, I was moved to a different housing section. My property was to be moved to the property-room after I was moved. Well, before my property could be moved the CO that I had the altercation with returned and set my property on fire. MIM, if y'all will please excuse me because I just got my Step 1 grievance back and these hoes are talking about my shower shoes is the only thing they're going to replace. Now I have to end this letter because I need to check these hoes about my shit!

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[Medical Care] [Texas] [ULK Issue 12]
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Prisons don't give a damn if we die

I think that things are going to get a lot worse for prisoners. I say this because people are dying left and right down here. These so-called doctors refuse to provide adequate health care like they are supposed to. I am 23 years old with a 40 year sentence. I constantly have to go through struggles just to receive medical help. I was diagnosed with leukemia a little over a year ago and I have days that I am in serious pain that I wouldn't wish on one of my foes. Do I get the assistance I really need? No. I hope things get better. Not just for me, but for all the other brothas and sistas in prison, because from what I'm seeing and experiencing, these people don't give a damn if we die.

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[Abuse] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]
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ULK supporters need help fighting gang label

I'm the comrade in the fight who wrote about the Alford Hughes Unit putting us on file to be a gang called "ULK." When I wrote this I was pulled out of my cell in segregation. The gang officer, another officer and mailroom staff messed with me by not letting me eat and not getting me out of my segregation cell to go to dayroom or shower. They put down VR and just walked by my cell all the time because I wrote a letter to Under Lock & Key. I know if I do something to one of the officers I will get more time.

I sent Step Ones and Step Twos out and have written to the world, my family and lawyers. Officers lie to the people and say I have been lying about all this and they send my mail back without letting me know. I've been jumped on by officers when they found out that I'm a subscriber to Under Lock & Key and because of what I believe in.

I was going to visit last weekend but because they jumped on me I was not let out of my cell. They told my family I was on visit. My mom didn't believe it and she was told if she did not leave they will call the cops on her. I don't see why they are able to do this to prisoners.

When I told them something they didn't like they put me in a cage about 2 by 3 and a foot tall with glass around, not able to go to the bathroom. All I could do was sit on the floor with spiders running around over my feet biting me. I was in it for 5 days with no shower just because I wouldn't tell them what they wanted to hear.

The Texas prison officers label ULK recipients gang members in Texas. What should I do to fight this? I could use help from any comrades who can help.

MIM(Prisons) adds: Throughout history it has been illegal for oppressed groups to organize or educate themselves. This is true in the united $tates today despite the First Amendment. Going up against the state as an individual is a losing battle, that is why collective action is the only way to put an end to these sorts of abuses.

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