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)

[National Oppression] [Texas] [ULK Issue 7]
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Gang Affiliations and Organizing

My upbringing was a lot like others before me and those who share the same living conditions as I do now: poverty, boys home, foster homes. My mother was a junkie and my father was a junkie/womanizer. So I grew to know the "system" well before I could understand it. Well as time moved on I became more rebellious by the minute. But I did not know why I was so rebellious to begin with. My crimes landed me in the belly of the beast.

Before I go any further I must explain my past affiliation. I used to be a Crip. As most young men with no family no structure at home, I was infatuated with the bling, money, females, drugs, guns and colors. But doesn't Crip stand for Community Revolution In Progress? But here we are shootin' things and people up, robbing and selling drugs. All within the confines of our community. Crips are without question the most numerous group in Texas state prison. How can this be so? Well I continued my affiliation until 3 years ago due to the fact that this and similar questions kept nagging at me.

Well now I am currently a member of our prison chapter of the BPP. I believe myself to be a realist. So I understand the reality of the 6 years that I face. So in essence it's not about me anymore. It's about the people. That is why a LK comrade directed me to you.

MIM(Prisons) responds: As we work to push the Peace Issue of Under Lock & Key, this letter is useful as an example of what we are trying to enable. This prisoner is at a transitional stage that is common among our comrades who have gone thru the process of developing political consciousness that begins with asking the simple questions of 'What am I doing?'. The system pushes the rebellious attitude he talks about in his youth into certain outlets that involve self-destruction of oppressed communities. Prison is the typical end of that path.

Now some will point out that if this comrade was never sent to prison he would have never turned around. In fact, we often hear from prisoners themselves that prison gave them the time to think and ask questions. And it is true, that struggle forces people to overcome adversity, and in the process they will grow. But that does not make u$ prisons a positive force on the lives of the oppressed. It is a negative force that the oppressed succeed in spite of, not because of. Programs run by MIM(Prisons) would be examples of positive forces that help people take this path. Because if we are real, there are more people who come out of the system mentally damaged, hooked on drugs, full of hatred and rage, physically handicapped, etc. We must organize the few who make it out stronger now, so that we can all become stronger, more productive members of society in the future.

It is no secret why youth join street organizations. What's a little less well known is the government's role in getting these organizations involved in the international drug trade and other serious criminal activities. They need these orgs to act as agents of the state to keep the oppressed communities in place because the oppressors themselves can only do so much to occupy these communities as outsiders. To the extent that the state has been successful in this strategy, conscious comrades will find it necessary to leave these organizations for ones that serve the community.

So the lesson to take from letters like this is that the oppressed want liberation and purposeful lives, not that the prison system can kick some people into shape. The current system wastes humyn lives and potential. It is up to the oppressed to build institutions to counter that trend. Work with MIM(Prisons) to take up this important work.

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[Prison Labor] [Texas]
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Prison Labor Stats in Texas

How many prisoners (slaves) at this facility: 500, it's a so-called transfer facility. More like a large holding cell or big shoe box where you stay for up to 2 years.

How many of them work?: All except the medically unassigned, seg and medium custody.

What do they work for?: To avoid negative retaliation by TDCJ (example, I am currently in seg becaues I refused to work in TDCJ forced labor.)

What work do they do?: Kitchen workers, SSI, Broom squad, laundry, over half of them work in the "hoe squad". Field work is all forced labor.

How much do they get paid? What is that question, some kind of joke? Sorry. Nothing. No one gets any type of compensation other than to please parole (like a rabitt with a carrot typed to the end of a stick) or to avoid catching a case and being placed on discipline.

All TDCJ offenders are forced to perform labor under one type of direct threat or another. How they are able to keep the lid on this I don't know.

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[Abuse] [Texas]
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No services and much abuse in Texas

I am writing to report the dehumanizing situations that we face here every day in this legalized injustice slave camp. Every day the food gets smaller. Now they are feeding the same food 3 and 4 days in a row. They lock us down for no reason at all, make us get on our knees just to receive our food and then they throw it on the floor and kick it in our cells.

I had officers daily threaten my life on multiple times and still been denied my amendment rights. They have given me empty pens so I can’t write out, denied me access of my 1st amendment when I tried to mail my cousin and her kids a handkerchief for valentines day, and had officers call me a racist to my face because I stand up for myself and refuse to allow them to call me all kind fo derogatory names and animals. I had officers blackmail me on cases so they can make my record look worse than what it is.

I have been denied parole three times because of crimes that were dropped when they found me guilty of my conviction. They are using my childhood mistakes and refusing to talk to me face to face and see if I have changed.

They have a Texas workforce commission which is supposed to help you get aquainted with finding a job but they deny you entry because you are somewhere, where they dislike, period, or a certain person they dislike.

I have been given no chance at getting in school. They have refused me my rights to attend my own religious services (Islam) and been denied adequate protection of the law. They even have certain prisoners who work for them to undermine the ones who are fighting to making corrective change with in america. They water down or deny you and opportunity to have access at legal or other knowledgeable information. It is a hard and long fought battle to just earn a little respect for our race and the ones that want to see equal injustice.

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[Prison Labor] [Texas]
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Fighting for good time in exchange for slave labor

Here is a copy of my timesheet. This is one of the topics I feel should be looked into. See a prisoner filed a lawsuit to get the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to either pay the prisoners for working or give them good time for working to help the prisoner be released early for good conduct. Well that was a Federal ruling and he won the case and agreed to good time for working instead of pay for the slave labor they make us do.

Well a few years later the state of Texas changed its policy to that ruling so that it overrode the federal ruling and made it discretionary to the release of a prisoner. So here in simple terms is what that means. The federal courts say when a prisoner's flat time, good time and work time equals his/her full sentence you have to release that person to mandatory supervision. Well by Texas making it discretionary they have overridden this federal order and made it where they can deny the release and it's wrong as you can see. I have 203% of my time done.

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[Political Repression] [Abuse] [Texas]
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Brutality in Texas Prison

My mail is being illegally withheld. I have to hold on to my mail and mail it out whenever I go by the mailbox myself. This is only when I'm taken out to the mail hall for reasons that suit the corrupt administration. The mailroom supervisor, Glenda F. Vandiver, gives my mail to the titular officers. The unit OID Jeffery W. Armstrong also works along with the administration and has told me this.

I've been beaten up four times since I sent those grievances out [to MIM last month]. I was beaten up on 11/17/08 by 2 titular officers, Hicks and Hopkins. I sustained a blackened left eye, swollen shut; swollen left cheekbone; knots and bruises all over my face; and cuts on my left upper chin. RN Mary Gribble saw all my invoices and refused to report it. OIG Armstrong sat face-to-face with me as I filled out a witness statement about the violent attack and beating. He told me the titular officers who attacked me are his true friends and that he's going to protect them, and not report what he saw. Sgt. Betty J. Myers, "Safe Prisons ACA Coordinator," refused to take photos of my face, but took photos of my back while I was fully dressed. They are conspiring and covering up a criminal assault. They're all working together to hide and conceal the criminal activity, and the cruel and unusual punishment they subject me to daily.

My food is being contaminated with a noxious chemical. An officer told me that every one of my food trays is being laced with windex or ammonia. The officer no longer works here; he told me this before he quit. The chemicals in this windex cause me to lose consciousness, pass out. I have excessive vehement vomiting, dizzy spells, migraine headaches, blurred vision, starvation. I am deprived of showers and recreation.

I have reported all of this to the following staff countless times, and these ranking officials call me "cry baby" or "nigger bitch" to name a few: Wardens Dawn E. Grounds, Devery W. Mooneyham, and Kenneth L. Dean; Capt. Richard Pillot, Lt. Donna S. Jennings, "Compliance Sgt." William E. Lyon, Sgt. Dan Griffin, Lt. Kurtis Pharr, Lt. Robert M. Presto, Lt. Oriando Flecha, Lt. Steven W. Schumacher, Stg. Steven L. Harris, Sgt. Morrison, Sgt. Michael Kluck, Sgt. William A. Burroughs, and Sgt. Brian Pollock. More over, they are the orchestrators and authors of all my problems: the death threats, beatings, starvation, deprivation of recreation, medical. The aforementioned employees are the very crooks who make it possible for the non-ranking staff to do all these terrible, inhumane, evil, unconstitutional things to me daily.

When anyone calls this unit, they all claim to "look into it" or "investigate." They're not going to "investigate" themselves; no one will. The Director of OIG, John Moriarty, and Executive Director Brad Livingston, and Chairperson of TDCJ Christina Melton Crain, and [TDCJ Administrative Review] Ombudsman Kathy Cleere can have me transferred if the right pressure is applied. I have a huge stack of grievances to prove that I've contacted every office in TDCJ all the way to the Executive Directors. I'm not being protected in any way, shape, form or fashion and therefore need transfer to a completely different prison unit in this system because this is cruel and unusual punishment.

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[Abuse] [Cameron County Detention Center] [Texas]
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No Rehab in Texas

I am currently at Cameron County Texas Jail/Detention Center. There are more prisoners here than this facility is equipped to hold, making it harder for many by having to sleep on the floor. The water is terrible and I believe it has added bleach and/or salt. The food is lousy and even when the food is decent we always get a small serving. We are made to pay taxes even though we're in prison and when we complain we're told that the citizens are paying for our food and housing. When I mention that I too pay taxes I am laughed at or mocked. We are denied a special diet tray for religious purposes and for vegetarians, etc. There are no rehabilitation programs and the community complains when so many prisoners come back again and again.

Here the mail officer censors whatever he wants, it is at their discretion to deny anything: letters, photos, books, etc. Worse yes, there is no appeal process in place to fight this, this is a violation of our prisoner's rights. Though we are incarcerated, we do not cease to have rights, though they are less. I have brought some issues up to the Texas Jail Standards (where complaints are sent for Texas jails only) and they seem to go with whatever is decided in the facilities.

I have seen officers mace a guy more than once when there was no need to, and use force excessively to take their anger out for having to get up out of their chairs and do some work. Here it is mostly a sitting job except for those bringing and taking out people to wherever they need to go. This does not help to rehabilitate and that was what I thought these kinds of places were for.

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[Prison Labor] [Allred Unit] [Texas]
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CCA Making Money in Texas

Prisoners in the belly of this dungeon prison, Allred Unit gulag, are confronted with the reality of unjust conditions and oppression. The prison administrators have continually ignored complaints about the poor quality of the food, conditions of confinements and the physical abuse of prisoners by the ignorant, intolerant, racist, poorly trained corrections workers.

Since their inception, they have been racked with serious use-of-force complaints and complaints about poorly trained corrections workers, lack of guards, and poor food facilities. Corrections Corporation of Amerika keeps prisoners fed and housed for $60 a day and still makes a profit.

A detailed 174 page after action report, prepared by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, noted the CCA's deficiencies and serious errors in administrating the prison dungeon plantation gulag. The disciplinary system here is totally unjust.

Food is a major cost for prisons. Outsourcing of food supply and preparation is one item many Texas prisons are attempting to implement to save money. Companies are cashing in on this cow, submitting low bids to feed prisoners, with poor food quality. The prisoners here on lock-down are pissed off at the poor quality of the food and the inedible meat-type products.

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[Censorship] [Texas] [ULK Issue 7]
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XXL Just Wants Your $12.99

Revolutionary greetings, comrades. I consider myself to be a conscious brother. I'm also a realist. I can't help but notice that prisoners are writing in, complaining about issues that are minute. And/or of no interest to Us that are dedicated to and about the struggle (total liberation of Our people mentally, spiritually, and physically).

Take for instance the problem with censorship. True, it's a problem that needs attention. However, complaining over magazines such as Vibe, XXL, and King is ludicrous. These publications don't give a damn about these concentration camps we're housed in. As long as that capitalistic business receives our $12.99 they are straight. Let's support those that support us such as MIM(Prisons).

Also comrades, we're all held in an institution that breeds injustice. We're all aware of this fact. OK, let's start fighting this beast with the resources we have. Educate yourself with the law. Know how to attack the grievance system that's a part of this corrupt system. We have to have comrades on the outside that are willing to harass these slave-holders and let them know that you have family/friends that care and are wiling to fight until justice is done. Without that we're on our own and must unite and fight until justice is done. We must want for our brothers/sisters what we want for ourselves.

Texas is one of the worst states to do time in. We have no phones, don't get paid a red cent to work, and we damn near make everything that's sold in the commissary. However that can't break the spirit of a warrior who is dedicated to uplifting my people.

The time is now to unite.

MIM Responds: This comrade is right to assert that the publishers of Vibe, XXL, and King probably only care about their dollar. We've tried communicating with Harris Publications a number of times about the racist censorship of their magazines in amerikan prisons but have still received no response. MIM(Prisons) is against all censorship in prison and would align with the publishers of magazines like XXL, if they were interested. So far they haven't been, but we will still uphold these as examples of the racist censorship policies in u$ prisons.

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[Prison Labor] [Texas] [ULK Issue 8]
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Texas Prisoner Forced to Work for No Pay

In Texas, every general population prisoner is required to work. They either work in the service of prison upkeep (i.e. maintenance, food service, field labor, support service inmate, etc.) or they work in one of the various factories owned by TCI (Texas Correctional Industries).

TCI is not part of the state. It is not part of the prison system. TCI is a private conglomerate which contracts with the state for prisoner labor. They operate metal fabrication plants, stainless steel works, meat packing plants, furniture factories, computer restoration plants, and many others throughout the 130+ prison units around the state. These industries do indeed provide products which the prison system needs for itself, but these products are also sold to other states for their prisons and jails at prices greatly marked up. The profits come from the fact that the prisoner labor is free.

Texas prisoners do not get paid for working.

Now there are a couple of pilot programs which started a couple of years ago, that do pay their workers a tiny bit. But these programs employ less than 1% of the 150,000+ prisoner population, and there are no plans to extend or expand these programs.

When general population prisoners in Texas attempt to involve the U.$. Department of Labor, OSHA, or other labor organizations concerning the exploitation of prisoners, we are told that prisoners in Texas "volunteer" to work, and are therefore not entitled to any support. They fail to mention that if a prisoner refuses to work, he is subject to disciplinary action, loses commissary and recreation privileges, has his good time credits taken away, gets locked up in administrative segregation - all of which has a negative effect on chances for parole. So the Catch 22 is: either work for free, or suffer the consequences.

Oh, they tell us that our good time credit is our pay. But good time only affects non-3G prisoners. It means nothing to the rest of us.

Furthermore, the extent of embezzlement within TCI is outrageous. The managers and department heads, even the foremen, are ripping off the tax payers with their thefts. I personally have witnessed many such incidences. For example: the maintenance department receives a new pump which it does not need at the time, so it is put into storage. Three weeks later I can't find that pump. A month after that, the supply truck delivers another pump which has the exact same serial number as the first.

Another example: just before Thanksgiving, the meat packing plant receives a truckload of frozen turkeys. The plant closes on Friday evening, and come Monday morning there are 120 frozen turkeys missing. The official ruling is "inmate theft." But no prisoners are at the plant on weekends.

And again: the stainless steel fabrication plant makes the round circles which are used for the seats we sit on at the chow hall tables. I saw a bill for 24 of those seats, the price? $40,000 for 24 one foot circles of stainless steel.

The factories build all the bars, the bunks, the toilets and sinks, the steel doors, etc., using prison labor. Then TCI sells all that to the contractors who build the new units at an unbelievable mark-up. The contractor then builds the prison, and sells it back to the state for an even more exaggerated price. Meanwhile, briefcases of cash keep changing hands. How else do you think the state gets away with telling the tax payers that a new prison costs $64 million when the outside of that prison is all pre-fab, and the inside is all prisoner built? Where is the oversight? Where is the accountability? The nature of bureaucracy allows these things to go on. Hell, they learned it from the feds, there's no one left to tell. Those officials who are supposed to look out for these things just take their share too.

The nature of capitalism ensures that the abuses of prisoner labor and the rape of tax payers in Texas will continue unchecked while the imperialistic standards thrive.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an excellent exposure of the prison labor conditions in the state of Texas and the benefit that private industry is getting for this free labor. The stories of corruption ring true across the whole federal government. See our article on Halliburton/KBR and Blackwater to see parallels in the military industrial complex.

We only disagree with the author in their assessment that the tax payers in Texas are being raped. While it is true that the State is paying ridiculous prices for goods, this is no different than the state paying high salaries to guards: these things actually work to ensure good jobs for those working in the service to imperialism. And the vast majority of taxpayers in Amerika are benefiting from imperialism so we can't agree that they are being raped. The criminal injustice system is helping to prop up the system of imperialism that benefits the taxpayers, and a little more money exchanging hands to enrich another imperialist institution (TCI) does not change this situation.

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[Control Units] [Texas]
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Unlock the Box Research in Texas

I'm writing in regard to the Unlock the Box research. I myself am in administrative segregation, where we are confined to a cell for 23 hours a day, seven days a week. We're said to be allowed one hour a day recreation, in a day room with only a pull-up bar, toilet, and in some pods a table. It is only one person per dayroom. Twice a week we're allowed outside recreation in which we are locked inside a cage with four walls. On this recreation area there is one urinal, basketball, basketball goal, and pull-up bar. The "outside" part of it is conceived through the small amount of daylight we receive from the top of the cage that has no wall. Showers are given afterwards. In some situations or institutions rather, such as the one that I am in, we are escorted to the shower which is a tiny little space and locked in for a given time. On other units showers are built into the cell to assure the prisoner never has to come out, or that he comes out as little as possible.

Food is brought on a meal cart and received through a tray slot built into our cell door. Necessities are brought to us also, as is our mail. For any movement we are escorted by two officers and handcuffed behind our back. In some cases we're required to be shackled from ankle to waist to wrists.

There are no religious, education, or other services or programs given to us. Ramadan however is revered. There are approximately five hundred and four cells for administrative segregation here. However, there are also solitary confinement cells used for disciplinary reasons that follow similar circumstances. Inside our cell there is one toilet with sink connected, one desk, one steel bed, and a big light fixture with enough light to illuminate the small cell completely for when they turn them on by a control panel in the picket. The cell is measured at around ten by seven feet; though no completely, considering angles of one wall imposing over those measurements.

Ad-Seg here is only one building. The unit is about a three thousand man unit, consisting of general population, close-custody and medium-custody. There are some units that are entirely for Ad-Seg prisoners only. Some units that I know to have Ad-Seg are Allred Unit in Iowa Park, TX, Beto Unit in Tennessee Colony TX, Clements Unit in Amarillo TX, Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony TX, Conally Unit in Kenedy TX, Darrington Unit in Rosharon TX, Ellis Unit and Estelle Unit in Huntsville TX, Ferguson Unit in Midway TX, Hughes Unit in Gatesville TX, Lewis Unit in Woodville TX, McConnell Unit in Beville TX, Michael Unit in Tennessee Colony TX , Robertson Unit in Abilene TX, Smith Unit in Lamesa TX, Stiles Unit in Beaumont TX, Polunsky Unit in Livingston TX, and here where I am at Telford Unit in New Boston TX.

I'm sure there are others I'm unaware of. The unit I'm on was built around 1994 or 95. I believe that all maximum security units built at that time are built the same as this unit, Ad-Seg and all. That year was when the state built a lot of new prisons at once.

Most people back here in seg are primarily Latino, with whites falling in second and Blacks last. If I had to guess percentages, I would have to say about 60% Latino, 30% white, and 10% Black. If someone is confirmed as a gang member, he is put in ad seg. If he is considered a "threat to security", he is placed here. Or if he is in protected custody he is sent here. I am here for being a so-called "threat to security" for unjustified causes.

There are some units that have another unit next to them (though considered the same unit) that are entirely for ad seg only. therefore, some units have two separate entities of ad seg unit housings.

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