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)

[Prison Labor] [Choice Moore Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 8]
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Work, Money and Good Time in Texas

I live in a "transfer facility" known as the Choice Moore Unit, in Bonham Texas. This facility houses 1,200 prisoners in eighteen 68-man dorms. Being that this is a transfer facility, people will stay here about 2 years before we are actually integrated into the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's prison system. This facility is known as a "farm" because it's main operation is the farming fields around our facility. The majority of the prisoners work either in the fields, kitchen, laundry, or go to school.

There are only a few classes here, and all of them are not vocational. The classes provided are: cognitive thinking changes, GED, and voyagers (which is a religious class). The rest of the jobs here are: supply room, kennel/horse worker (for trustees), dorm janitor, administration helper, inmate commissary, and that's about all. None of these jobs pay us and from what I understand, TDCJ does not pay any money to prisoners. The TDCJ pays us by gaining us "good time" credits and "worktime" credits.

People in the TDCJ system are really forced to work, and here's why: If a person refuses to work, they get a written major case for not working. Once brought to a disciplinary hearing and found guilty, you lose commissary privileges, recreation privileges, and go down in line class status (line class is what gives you privileges, % of work time/good time credits, and is used for classification reasons also.) If after a period of time you were assigned another job and refused to work again, you would be written up for a major case again and the consequences continue to get worse. If continued refusal to work happens, you may end up on a max unit in the "hole" doing all your sentence. Here's another aspect of what happens to us here. Any major or minor case will be forwarded to your parole board. The parole board uses major cases (any case whether petty or not) to give offenders one year set offs, up to 3 year set offs, until they can be up for parole again. So basically any case write-up in here is like being sentenced another year.

Let's say I make 100% of my work time credits and I go up for parole and never had a write up for misbehavior. Now I get a 2 year set off from parole, even with no cases and 100% of my work credit done. Now let's say a guy had 30% work time, 25% good time credit and 2 major cases and he's up for parole. Somehow they let him go home on parole. Parole here does what it wants and all the good time and work time is just for show on paper. They do not actually honor it.

Now for crimes considered "aggravated," they make people do half their time before they are eligible for parole, but they do not get good time credits. They do, however, get work credits. But like I said, it's all for the look - we really don't get shit. A person can get 100% work time and be at half his sentence and not get released on parole (so there's no pay). People can have 3/4th of their sentence done flat time and have 150% work time credits, but still be made to serve all their sentence (there's no pay again). My point is, we do not actually get any pay or reward for working and are therefore slaves to this and for this system.

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[National Oppression] [Michael Unit] [Texas]
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Unite to Fight the System

I’m writing from the Michael Unit plantation in Tennessee Colony, TN. For the past few months we here at the Michael Unit have been having racial altercations, and it isn’t even the summer yet. It’s been mainly behind frivolous stuff: “wasted energy on a wasted cause.”

I’ve tried time and time again to get my Latino and Black brothers to open their eyes to the real struggle. Why fight each other? The system should be the ones you’re fighting. The more we stay divided, the more we can’t win our fight. It’s crazy!

Here in Texas, our unit comes through every few months and separates Mexican and Mexican cell mates and the same with whites, and integrates them with Blacks, when they know none of them can live together, and know something will happen because they have nothing in common.

This system is designed to divide and conquer the masses. If only everyone would open their eyes and realize what they were doing, then maybe somethings would change for the better.

I used to be one of the ones who was for my people and you couldn’t tell me different. If it wasn’t Raza I didn’t care. It’s fine and all good if you love your culture, but it’s time that we break down the walls of ethnicity and look at the big picture. It’s us against them and without knowing this, then we will always lose. It’s not a white, black or brown thing, but a struggle thing.

I just hope someone will spread the word about the big picture. It’s not “let’s make it better for our race.” It’s “let’s make it better for everyone.” We are the ones living in the trenches of poverty, blindness and no hope. And if we don’t change, this struggle will never defeat the system.

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[Abuse] [Connally Unit] [Texas]
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Mistreatment in Texas prisons

I'm sitting here on the Connally Unit in ad seg for assaulting an officer. I honestly have to say I did. Why? Because he threatened me. He said "when I put these handcuffs on you, and you go to 12-building, it's not going to stop. That's where it will all begin." Then he said "Besides, I used to work on 12-building." No one would let someone place cuffs on him after he made such a statement. I asked him to get his supervisor and he didn't. So I tried to go around him. He cut me off.

This female officer was standing right there listening to him threaten me. I knew this was getting out of hand so I asked Mrs. C, can you get your supervisor. That's when the officer pushed me up against the wall and he started twisting my left arm. That's when it all went down. I was only defending myself against his assaults. I never did anything aggressive to him.

The female officer didn't want anything to do with it because she knew this officer was in the wrong. She just walked away. The unit wrote her up for not helping out this officer. I guess that she didn't want to get in to wrong doing. That's what made her quit working on this Unit.

Another incident like this happened while I was here in ad seg. A prisoner was in his cell when they shot gas in his cell, one canister after another. Then they ran in on him as he was choking and they beat him up. They busted his head.

When you try to do the right thing by writing a grievance they retaliate on you. And sometimes they won't feed you. As soon as the grievance gets back to you it says something like "officer denies the allegation, grievance denied." Or it might say "no further action taken." This grievance thing is a joke to them. That's why officers do as they want, because the unit wardens will go right along with them.

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[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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