Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Texas Prisons

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out

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

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

Allred Unit (Iowa Park)

Beto I Unit (Tennessee Colony)

Bexar County Jail (San Antonio)

Bill Clements Unit (Amarillo)

Billy Moore Correctional Center (Overton)

Bowie County Correctional Center (Texarkana)

Boyd Unit (Teague)

Cameron County Detention Center (Olmito)

Choice Moore Unit (Bonham)

Clemens Unit (Brazoria)

Coffield Unit (Tennessee Colony)

Connally Unit (Kenedy)

Cotulla Unit (Cotulla)

Dalhart Unit (Dalhart)

Daniel Unit (Snyder)

Darrington Unit (Rosharon)

Dominguez State Jail (San Antonio)

Eastham Unit (Lovelady)

Ellis Unit (Huntsville)

Estelle 2 (Huntsville)

Estelle High Security Unit (Huntsville)

Ferguson Unit (Midway)

Formby Unit (Plainview)

Garza East Unit (Beeville)

Gib Lewis Unit (Woodville)

Hamilton Unit (Bryan)

Harris County Jail Facility (Houston)

Hightower Unit (Dayton)

Hobby Unit (Marlin)

Hughes Unit (Gatesville)

Huntsville (Huntsville)

Jester III Unit (Richmond)

John R Lindsey State Jail (Jacksboro)

Jordan Unit (Pampa)

Lane Murray Unit (Gatesville)

Larry Gist State Jail (Beaumont)

LeBlanc Unit (Beaumont)

Lopez State Jail (Edinburg)

Luther Unit (Navasota)

Lychner Unit (Humble)

Lynaugh Unit (Ft Stockton)

McConnell Unit (Beeville)

Michael Unit (Tennessee Colony)

Middleton Unit (Abilene)

Montford Unit (Lubbock)

Mountain View Unit (Gatesville)

Neal Unit (Amarillo)

Pack Unit (Novasota)

Polunsky Unit (Livingston)

Powledge Unit (Palestine)

Ramsey I Unit (Rosharon)

Ramsey III Unit (Rosharon)

Robertson Unit (Abilene)

Rufus Duncan TF (Diboll)

Sanders Estes CCA (Venus)

Smith County Jail (Tyler)

Smith Unit (Lamesa)

Stevenson Unit (Cuero)

Stiles Unit (Beaumont)

Stringfellow Unit (Rosharon)

Telford Unit (New Boston)

Terrell Unit (Rosharon)

Torres Unit (Hondo)

Travis State Jail (Austin)

Vance Unit (Richmond)

Victoria County Jail (Victoria)

Wallace Unit (Colorado City)

Wayne Scott Unit (Angleton)

Wynne Unit (Huntsville)

Young Medical Facility Complex (Dickinson)

[Medical Care] [Texas] [ULK Issue 10]
expand

Brutality leads to death

I would like to reach out to my fellow prisoners, by this true and law breaking story. This happened in the wee hours in the morning.

I lived just on the opposite side and above and several doors down from a man who you might call a mentally challenged prisoner. He was heavily medicated since first coming to this wing. Over periods of time, he would have his outbursts, beating, banging on the walls, door, etc. Even at times rubbing feces on and around inside his cell. At times not eating meals.

Late last night this prisoner was brought to a stand up cage made out of fence. It's a 3x3 cage, 7 feet tall. He was brought to this cage because he took abundant amounts of pills. So then a nurse came to speak with him and he was given a cup of charcoal to drink. It coats the stomach and intestines. Several hours later he was moved to a cell unknown exactly to us, but he died.

You must keep in mind that we live on a super-seg prison in TX. One of the most high secured. This is a 24 hour lock-down unit. How did this challenged prisoner get or accumulate these pills that were so detrimental to him? The nursees pass out AM and PM meds. They are supposed to watch each prisoner swallow their meds. They fail doing this, only because they think it's a burden of time on their hands.

Why weren't his vitals taken every 15 minutes to watch for elevating blood pressure? Instead, they stuck him back in a cell and allowed him to slip away into total darkness. Why wasn't he taken to a hospital?

His stay to the guards was only a joke, and in fact a way for them to retaliate and finally get their revenge. They blame him for his mistakes. But really, they are pointing their bloody fingers the wrong way. They knew he was a challenged prisoner. So why allow him to accumulate pills to a detrimental level? Where did these pills come from? Only the inside could let this happen.

When the free world investigator showed up to check his cell, he ignored our calls for help. As we screamed desperately for his help about the murder, he shrugged his shoulders and took a few pictures and was gone in a few moments.

Someone is always dying, being an overdose or suicide. How are these things ongoing? They allow us no rights! Here there are days some prisoners don't get food. My mail is on a constant watch. I will speak out about these criminals.

chain
[Medical Care] [Connally Unit] [Texas]
expand

Fighting for Sanitary Conditions in Texas

Since being at Connally Unit, going on a year since I was released from administrative segregation, I can honestly say that conditions are at their worst. I've submitted grievances and nothing has been done about it. For one, we have five showers to each pod, each pod holds 48 prisoners, each shower has only one shower head, and we are limited by the time we receive during day room, which is less than 2 hours a day. These showers are only opened during that time. If you go out to recreation before or after day room, you are not allowed to shower. These showers are locked most of the time during and after recreation. And to finish that off, the temperature of the water can cook a soup.

I am also concerned about our health and the drinking water in the day room that we don't have, with this hot weather, the hottest in South Texas record. Our water fountain has not produced water since the beginning of the summer. Prisoners here have passed out, dehydrated, and have had bad chest and headaches since this started.

We get our mail stolen from time to time, racist staff employees harass and abuse their power and authority as if they have something to prove to the white man (most employees here on Connally Unit are Latinos and Blacks). They like to see us divided, fighting our own oppressed brothers, they want us blind and confused and then on top of that you have these puppets who cater to their masters, by snitching and who help keep us down.

Our food is not properly washed and cleaned such as our beans and greens. Sometimes I find pieces of rock and dirt mixed in there. Our greens are spoiled and have been for the past six months, our bread most of the time is baked with mildew.

Exterminators for mice and ants and other insects have not done their job. Mice get into our lockers and eat our food, the ant eats what's left from that food. Our hygiene is not properly attended to, such as tooth brushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shower slides, etc. Speaking about shower shoes, all this is sold to us through the commissary store, and if you don't receive money from your family, you can't afford to purchase these items because here in Texas you don't get payed for working in prison. In our cell rooms we don't get any kind of chemicals to clean our toilets, sink, floor, walls, bunks, and lockers from germs.

Our showers have fungus on the floor and walls. Just recently they (prisoners working for the system) came with their boss (state employee) and laid down a layer of sand glue to cover up the fungus under it. Just imagine if you have no shower shoes: that causes one to see medical due to foot fungus.

You only have 10 people you can put on your visitation list, and if you receive money from anyone, no matter who that person is, if that person is not on your visitation list and you receive money unauthorized by administration, you can receive, such as I did, a 15.0 trafficking and trading case, which is a major case.

So let us unite our strengths and fight for the oppressed masses, which are many, and not our personal gains and recognition. Let us stand side by side and demonstrate, for a better way of life.

As Mao told us that an army "is powerful because all of its members have a conscious discipline; they...come together and they fight not for the private interests of a few individuals or a narrow clique, but for the interests of the broad masses and of the whole nation."

chain
[Legal] [Texas] [ULK Issue 11]
expand

Response to Legal Help Request

I just got my first issue of Under Lock and Key (July 2009, No 9). Needless to say, I sure appreciated it. The mail room personnel did not censor it, but that does not necessarily mean they won't in the near future. I write to respond to the letter that was written by the Georgia prisoner (Pig Enables Stabbing of Prisoner in Riot, May 2009). Hopefully you will print my letter so our comrade can read it and use the information therein.

First, to our comrade, you've got to file your complaint at the unit level and keep copies of it and any other documents that you file with the administration because you'll need to file a title 42 United States Code Section 1983 lawsuit for a redress of grievances. Write down everything that happened to you, as well as everything else that you have done since to secure medical care, etc., for this will definitely come in handy for your lawsuit. If you've got any witnesses that are willing to help you out by testifying you need to try to keep in contact with them.

Second, you need to do some legal research in the unit's law library to better understand your situation and to go about filing your lawsuit. You can write the district court where the incident occurred and request the necessary forms to file your suit. The district court's address should be in the unit law library (there should be a "venue list" or simply request the address from the unit law library). There's a lot you need to know and do and there's not enough space here to expound.

chain
[Education] [Texas] [ULK Issue 10]
expand

Cellies Educating Each Other

Studying in Allred UnitGreetings to all my brothers and sisters and political prisoners. I want to encourage all comrades to promote educational thinking. My cellmate, who is a Crip, took time out of his schedule to teach me how to count. Yes, count. I dropped out of high school in the 9th grade to only have to come to prison and learn math. I'm 37 and my celly is 28. He encouraged me and pushed me to use my mind. We have had our ups and downs inside this cell which is in a high security unit.

The administration does not care if we kill each other, but instead we build each other. He sees my potential and motivated me to use it. Comrades, do not let youth fool you. They look at us as leaders. But if you only want to prove how ignorant and violent you are or "was", they will continue to promote that too.

Failure is falling down and staying there. Get back up! Know thyself.

chain
[Abuse] [Allred Unit] [Texas]
expand

Officers Assaulting Prisoners in Texas

I am writing this letter in an attempt to contribute to the truth and show others that they are not alone in this struggle. I was incarcerated on the Beto Unit before they shut down seg and shipped me here to the Allred unit. I came from Beto with a jacket on my back because while in seg an officer (using a sliding shield panel) slammed and cut the tip of my right ring finger off. A mockery of an investigation was said to be in progress for over a year, and it wasn't until I was here on the Allred Unit that i was informed that the officer involved was not at fault nor would be held accountable.

I had watched others on Beto getting physically assaulted and yet when I chose to fight back (both physically and mentally) I was deemed unfit to be released to general population and sent to the Allred Unit with the aggression "threat" to officers jacket on my back. True enough, I will not allow an employee to ever touch me again without just cause, and yet of late (thanks to my jacket) I have been targeted for frivolous disciplinary forms.

I have faced numerous b.s. write ups. When I go before the disciplinary officer during the hearing it is pointless. The counsel substitutes they provide on this unit to assist and defend us do nothing more than ask for lenience on your behalf. You have to gather your own information, witnesses, and evidence on your own. Even when you prove that the officer who wrote you up is wrong, lied, or is without common sense, you are still found guilty. We are told to appeal such hearing decisions and yet that is to no avail.

I recently had an incident where I was accused of "threatening to hurt anyone who came to get me", "slid out of one or both handcuffs" and "disobeyed to come off of the rec yard." When a camera was present that shows I was in handcuffs the whole time, came and was escorted off the rec yard without incident. Even the accusing officer's verbal testimony at the hearing shows he refuted his own written report. When this was brought up during the hearing I was told to file an appeal to the disciplinary hearing. What a crock! Everything written (in policy, procedures and rules) was totally disregarded for this good ol' boy of theirs.

It has gotten worse now that I'm on 12 building. I have seen an utter and complete disregard for humanity. I have witnessed them running into a prisoner's cell after spraying him with chemical agents, slamming him, beating his head into the concrete, poking him in the eye, and kicking him from head to toe the whole time yelling "quit fighting us, stop resisting." Even the nursing staff (present at the time this was happening), when they perform a physical on you (on tape) will simply state "offender complains of this or that and he has sustained such and such injuries due to his resisting or non-compliance during the use of force".

chain
[Political Repression] [Hughes Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 10]
expand

Texas Prison Officers Label ULK Recipients Gang Members

Here on Hughes Unit the gang officers put us on file as members of a gang called ULK. A few weeks ago when I was called to the gang offices I was asked a lot of things about your newsletter. I don't see how they can do this when there is no gang called ULK at all. I would like you to let all comrades know about what's going on in Texas and what they do to prisoners who get Under Lock & Key on Alfred Hughes Unit. Once they put us on gang file they can read all mail that comes to us from anyone, and they can withhold mail and send it back to people. Please send me help to fight this.

chain
[Economics] [Organizing] [Texas]
expand

Prisons Used as Political Tools in Rural Communities

In the prison system, people upstate in rural areas send applications for prisoners to be sent up to the towns. If you live in a rural area upstate and your economic structure has been wiped out you need to have another industry. Now you have prisons. The benefit is that you get money for every person shipped to your state, but you also gain greater political power and shift the political power from the cities to the rural areas because every prisoner who goes into these rural areas is counted as a citizen in the county in which they are incarcerated. So big cities may lose two assemblymen because you and your crew are in jail upstate.

This is why all these rural areas want these prisons built in their communities. Prisoners are a population that they don't have to deal with and will never be heard, but they count as a part of representation in the government giving rural areas greater political power.

That's why these small hick towns have 3 or 4 penitentiaries where they have a population of Blacks and Latinos in their towns when in fact no Blacks or Latinos live within the town, but within the prison. Like the town of Tennessee Colony in Texas which has 4 units: Coffield, Beto, Gurney, and Michaels Unit. In most of these towns and cities most of the prison workers in the unit are related going back 4 to 5 generations: husbands and wives working together, brothers and sisters, fathers and sons, and so on. With this in mind you can picture the tight knit community in these units where "if you touch my mother or sister, I can do anything to you, and there's nothing you can do about it, because everyone on the unit will cover for me."

What most prisoners don't know is that they hold more power and rights than they know. If every prisoner who is from a big city put in for hardships to be at units close to their home, these hick towns could lose all of their political power. And these hick town units with populations of 5,000 would not have any power in their wardens. But there is a catch, once your application is in for a hardship. They are out to get you, and place loads of bogus cases on you, so you have to remain on the Unit 12 months case free before you can be shipped.

What we as prisoners must do is know our enemy when we go out and battle against them. We must be clean and can't have any contraband in our cells, or on our persons when we file law suits against them. And make sure the cameras get playback when they do search you or your cell to show them planting stuff on you or in your cell.

chain
[Organizing] [Texas]
expand

Phone System Profits in Texas

Thought to enclose a prison newspaper article about the installation of an offender telephone system. I was getting ready to dispose of the paper when I noticed this article more or less coincided with your issue on money for profit in the prison system. It doesn't take a dummy to figure out the profits the provider and the prison system will make. A lot of money will be made as there are over 150,000 prisoners in the system. The paper appears to imply that only those in protective custody in the control units and the general population will be able to use these phones, that's still a lot of other prisoners the state and its provider will make a killing on money-wise. And as my comrades in Texas said, prisons are a business.

I have been in and out of the prison system in Texas since the mid-70s and from agriculture to industry, TDC will continue to thrive because it is the state legislators who will continue to provide the necessary funds to keep the prison thriving. What's so scary about the above mentioned scheme is in every state, and the few of us who voice our outrage in exposing it face the state or federal government lackeys trying to silence us. This we can not allow. We must keep it strong and our voices must continue to be heard.

chain
[Medical Care] [Abuse] [Texas]
expand

Abuse and Neglect in Texas Prisons

I have been imprisoned for 12 years. Believe me when I tell you that Texas prisons are not paying prisoners for the hard labor, and this is just one of the many problems they have. Two of the biggest problems are poor medical care and lack of control over the correctional officers.

Let's start with medical. Most of the staff are poorly trained, only here for the pay and benefits. I have personally witnessed RNs and doctors do things that would start a malpractice law suit in the free world. I have seen prisoners have heart attacks, and it took medical 10 minutes to get to them. All the while staff stood over them doing nothing. A co-workers in the kitchen had a hernia, medical department scheduled him for surgery 9 months down the road when he was discharging his sentence in 6 months. He walked around constantly in pain and couldn't sleep. One of my cellies was a seizure patient. Because the medical department could not get his medicine balanced he had more seizures than normal. Doctors prescribe the wrong medicine and prisoners get really sick. I could go on and on.

Because there's no outside oversight these types of things keep happening. Now to the correctional officers. They have the mentality that the uniform gives them the right to talk, treat and do as they will to prisoners. they do just that on a daily basis at all the units in the system. Some will cuss at you, even when you give them respect, because they know nothing is going to happen to them. On two different units I've seen prisoners get gassed, handcuffed, beat until they are bleeding and can't walk, all over a piece of contraband, or because the CO didn't like how the prisoner responded to a question.

Female COs tell supervisors a prisoner said or threw something at them, just so they could see the prisoner eat up, and then stand there laughing. I saw a prisoner in handcuffs, when he initially went to seg he was fine, when they brought him back out 10 minutes later he was bleeding from the nose, eyes were bruised, and limping. Found out later that night that he was beat with a walkie-talkie and pushed down the stairs. Medical was told he fell. This came from a CO. Two weeks later that supervisor was fired.

You constantly see bogus disciplinary cases because an officer doesn't like a prisoner, and wants to see them receive some type of punishment. Most of the time it's recreation, cell or commissary restriction, loss of good time, and loss of class depending on the case. These bogus cases create a lot of problems especially when it's time for a parole review.

There has got to be something that can be done to bring some type of constant oversight from the outside to make sure the state is held responsible for what the staff does. Until this happens the prisoners are basically sitting ducks for abuse. We were sentenced by a judge to do time, and to rehabilitate ourselves, so we can return to society as a free and productive citizen. That can't be done when you have out-of-control correctional officers constantly causing you trouble.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this writer that the prisons only pay lip service to rehabilitation while actually making it very difficult for people to return to society as productive members. The criminal injustice system is not about rehabilitation or even punishment, it is a system of social control.

chain
[Religious Repression] [Abuse] [Texas]
expand

Build Unity and Non-violence

This is your fellow brother in the struggle for equal rights. I am sitting here reading your latest ULK 8 about state by state labor data, and I would love to commend you for another exceptional publication. I never knew so much kickbacks, and in house cooperation was going on from state to state. I completely agree with all the brothers who help to inform unenlightened brothers such as myself. I try desperately to inform a lot of the other brothers. The harsh treatment and neglectful respect for one another continues to tear unity apart.

It has gotten so bad that I hardly stand by a fellow brother because all they do is talk about sex, drugs, violence and gang banging. I left that lifestyle alone almost 3 years ago and I try to keep myself away from that environment. I try to talk and show your publication off but not too many want to read it.

I took a stand of non-violent protest against all injustice becaues what you say is right. I believe violence will not solve these problems that are going on. Here on my plantation in Texas, within the last 8 months these officers killed 2 prisoners and fractured, or cracked one African-American frontal lobe of his skull. I was threatened by a Sgt saying "your grievances don't work so stay out of the way."

I have been denied my religious service of Islam multiple times and there is no help in sight by the administrators. There are times when I come in from my work detail "field squad" manual labor and they have pork for chow. I am a muslim and can't eat pork so they give us 2 slices of cheese instead. I was forced to go out and engage in manual hard labor in my boots which were hanging on by a thread. Both of my boots were torn off and barely together when a C/O and Sgt said it will be a case if I don't turn out for work. I was forced to endure twigs and other stuff puncturing the bottom of my feet to comply with regulations.

chain