Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Texas Prisons

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out 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] [Campaigns] [Terrell Unit] [Texas]

Diabetic Refused Insulin in Texas

On January 30, 2019 I was taken on bench warrant by TDCJ. The transport officer told the trial court judge that I had to provide my own insulin when I informed the court that I am severely diabetic requiring three insulin injections daily. Despite this fact, TDCJ refuses to provide insulin any time I am transported. The TDCJ grievance office refuses to respond to this complaint. The Terrell Unit grievance office is forging grievances and even signing offenders' names for them and/or refusing to process their grievances, especially with regards to serious health issues.

[Abuse] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]

Brutal Assault After Classification Committee Assigns Dangerous Cellmate

Dig this: I'm 63 years of age, been locked up 30 yrs flat since July 10, 1989 for possession of a pistol by an ex-con. I just got released from Ad. Seg. after 10 years (for inmate assault back in Apr. 2009) to be relisted to the "re-entry" program. However, on Jan. 14, 2019 I was "re-assigned" and sent to Alfred High Security. I went before UCC (Unit Classification Committee) and they assigned me to be in the cell with [Prisoner Y], an extreme psych. patient and sexual predator. After four days in the cell, on Jan. 14, 2019 at 4 o'clock in the morning after breakfast, I went to take a leak and while my back was turned he attacked me, hitting me and breaking the right side of my jaw which knocked me out. He then proceeded to break my nose, and my right eye socket and busted my head with something and now I have a grapefruit-sized hematoma on the back of my head.

I had major surgery on Jan. 19 2019. The doctor at TX Tech. Health Science Center, put three titanium plates in my face!! Now this dude [Prisoner Y] had just 1 1/2 month prior jumped on and brutally assaulted his last two cellmates; one of whom he sexually assaulted. Thus the above committee members knew all this and yet I was put in harm's way: attempted murder and agg. assault! After the fact I talked to five safe prison investigators and each and every last one of them emphatically stated "you shouldn't have been put in that cell! and that inmate was supposed to be single-celled and listed as assaultive/sexual predator!"

So now I'm stuck with the daunting task of trying to find a lawyer or legal organization that will help me litigate this immense wrong done to me.

[Abuse] [Gib Lewis Unit] [Texas]

Sleep Deprivation in Texas

I am in need of a copy of the amendments. I am also in need of a copy of the Universal Declaration of Rights for all prisoners. I had both of these at one time and they either got lost or stolen.

I also need to know how much uninterrupted sleep we offenders are supposed to receive. You see, we woke up several times every night for anything from a roster check to count. Even sometimes for lay-ins. At count time sometimes the officers turn on the lights and wake us up due to their not having flashlights. The lights are on for these counts for an hour and a half sometimes, uncalled for. I need to do something about this problem.

[Medical Care] [Abuse] [LeBlanc Unit] [Texas]

No Wheelchair Accomodations in Texas

I am in need of some help with some legal work or someone to tell me what I need to do about being on a unit that doesn't have anything for wheelchairs to be here on this unit. I have a lot of medical problems and can not walk. This unit has no 24 hour medical and there is nothing for a wheelchair to be on this unit. The nurses on this unit try to be a PA or MD when they are just a nurse and that is it. I have filed grievance after grievance and nothing has gone good about anything on this problem I am having on this unit. Is there anything you could help me on this problem please?

[Campaigns] [Texas]

Texas Confiscating Offender's Grievance Operations Manual

Not too long ago I purchased from y’all the Offenders Grievance Operations Manual, which I paid about $10 for. I need y’alls help in the sense that if y’all could please send me any kind of proof that I did purchase this manual from y’all. Or if you could please send me a witness statement that I did purchase this manual from you. The reason that I need this kind of proof is because said manual has been confiscated by a C.O. that works in the law library. And it would help a lot if you could please help with this matter. I thank you so very much for your help in resolving this matter. I will wait for your prompt response. I need this information as soon as possible so I can file my step 1 grievance. Thank you!

[Medical Care] [Stevenson Unit] [Texas]

Healthcare Errors and Denials in Texas

I was recently sent to have hernia repair surgery and once I was back on my feet I was scheduled for "staple removal". The nurse was trying to remove staples and actually stapled me in my incision. She was trying to remove staples with an actual surgical stapler and because of the staple she put into me they had to dig the staple out and because of this my incision was opened back up and I had to receive more staples because of this!

I can't believe this happened to me. I am currently trying to receive my medical records for that day but I am having a hard time because I am indigent. I filed a step one grievance but I have been transferred to another unit and I don't know what to do.

I tried to speak to the head of the medical department the day of the incident but she refused to speak with me. She told the nurse for me to place a request in to speak to her. I don't know what to do. I know the incident was documented because the doctor had to remove the staple and I told her to get the trash can from the OR room because the nurse had thrown the stapler in the trash before getting the actual staple removed. The doctor said "no way". She wrote in the notes that I had a "new" staple and that it had to be removed and then two more staples had to be put back on the incision and closed it.

I don't know what else to do about this incident. Who do I write and how do I get my medical records?

[Abuse] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]

Lockdown, no Rec, no Law Library at Hughes Unit

We were just been released from a 2 month lockdown because a new Warden had stepped in and wanted us to know hes the boss. We were not given clean clothes for 30 days straight. We received johnny sacks for 5 weeks straight before getting our first trayed meal. We all lost weight!

I filled grievance after grievance. The Grievance Investigator never even showed up for the first month. We had to buy our grievances and I-60's from other Inmates because the Staff told us they were out.

I am in G-5 Closed Custody which means I can't leave my cell. These people have and are denying us access to the Law Library. They're only sending what they want and when they want. You name it and its happening here. We are still being denied recreation yard time. I am in a bad faith based POD. We were being refused that until recently.

[Abuse] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]

Denied Out-of-Cell Rec and Adequate Food at Hughes Unit

I am writing regarding an issue that affects my friend who is imprisoned at the TDCJ Unit A.D. Hughes in Gatesville, Texas. Prison Administrators at this unit are continually denying the inmates and convicts in Administrative Segregation (AdSeg) any amount of time out of their cells to exercise or shower as well as continually providing the inmates and convicts with nutritionally inadequate meals thus violating State and Federal Law. These issues are causing damage to their mental and physical health in addition to indirectly creating a risk to public safety.

My friend is in AdSeg where the inmates and convicts are already confined for 23 hours each day in a cell the size of a small closet which was designed to create maximum isolation from human contact. Their only break from this type of confinement is one hour out-of-cell exercise the State and Federal Courts ordered TDCJ to provide during incarceration (Ruiz v. Estelle, 679 F.2d 1115 1151-52 (5th Cir., 1982)). An hour of out-of-cell exercise or activity was ordered each and every single day because of the risk to the mental and physical health of all inmates and convicts who are subjected to uninterrupted confinement in a tiny four-wall cell. This serious issue is well established and recognized.

However, at the Hughes Unit prison, officials are habitually and continually disregarding the established laws. For instance, in the four and a half month period from April 2018 through August 2018, there was no out-of-cell exercise provided to inmates and convicts in AdSeg on 156 of those days. This isn't a new development or the result of an emergency situation. Over the last several years, out-of-cell exercise has been canceled at a similar rate on this unit. Administrators at the A.D. Hughes Unit have not been consistently complying with State of Federal Laws—at best they are complying half the time.

To make matters worse, on about half of that time, administrators are providing inmates and convicts in AdSeg meals that are calorically and nutritionally inadequate which is also a violation of State and Federal Law. Approximately one fourth of all meals served consist of just two sandwiches and nothing more. The first sandwich has only a single slice of processed lunch-meat, soy patty or other similar meat-type product. The second sandwich has about a spoonful of peanut butter. The two sandwiches combined contain about 500 calories. There are never any fruits of vegetables or any other food required for a balanced diet made available to the inmates in AdSeg. It is impossible for these two sandwiches that are provided every now and then to maintain a person's health. Sometimes the convicts at the Hughes Unit could be forced to eat nothing but these sandwiches for months at a time, but only if there was a disciplinary lock-down and we are to be on a 2,500 calories daily dIet.

They got out-of-cell time only 95 times. There is no valid reason for the issues to be happening on a regular basis. Inmates and convicts are given the excuse that there is a lack of staff to provide out-of-cell exercise or to serve proper meals when they question these issues. While this may have been true in some instances, there are many days where exercise was denied while there was adequate staffing on the unit. The staff are choosing to cancel out-of-cell exercise because they don't feel like performing their daily work-time duties. When staff wants a day off they just ask the ranking officer in charge to declare a staff shortage and then they sit around on the unit during their shift doing nothing but collecting payment for a job they aren't performing—money provided by taxpayers. No one is holding TDCJ-CID unit administrators, or these staff members, accountable for their behavior mainly because it takes place all the way down the line from the executive director down to the CO II.

Even when there is a genuine staff shortage that fact doesn't absolve prison administrators of the responsibility of doing whatever is necessary to fully and adequately staff the prisons. Indeed the very essence of their duty is to create and maintain prisons that comply with all relevant laws. The chronic staff shortage is due in part to halfhearted measures taken to hire new employees: when new employees are hired they are often fired on trivial pretexts in order to keep staffing levels artificially low to save money on the prison budget.

It is always important to remember that these inmates and convicts will eventually be paroled or serve their sentences and be released back into society. There is a growing awareness that these types segregation units are incubators of mental illness and further criminality; even when run properly, which they never have been and never will be. Prison administrators' disregard for the inmates and convicts' rights and well being here at the Hughes Unit is only making the problems worse, but only because they wear a different color uniform than us that puts them as bias against us from jump street. After mistreating and antagonizing the convicts for years, TDCJ-CID administrators will just release them back into society, leaving an unsuspecting public to deal with the resulting fallout. Prison administrators at the Hughes Unit are putting us all at risk with this type of unlawful behavior.

Please investigate this matter and see to it that prison officials at the Hughes Unit provide the AdSeg inmates and convicts with a minimum of an hour of out-of-cell recreation every single day as well as showers on a daily basis and nutritious meals as ordered by State and Federal Law.

[Abuse] [Medical Care] [Stiles Unit] [Texas]

Texas Forces Segregation Conditions for Aircon

I was moved to another unit for a heat restriction that I have due to medical problems, and have to be in air conditioning. TDCJ lost a lawsuit and Fed court tells them to A/C the Pack One unit. So now they are doing some system wide moving us inmates who have heat restrictions, or what is called heat sensitive medical conditions. There is about 24 conditions that they have at this time. The number one is if inmates are 65 and older. I am 67, but I have a lot of the conditions they talk about having.

Anyway, the Texas prison system is trying to get us old inmates into a temperature control housing which is with A/C. But the bad thing they are putting us in what is called 12 Building which is the Ad-Seg on Stiles unit. Now they made 3 pods for general population heat restriction but we are treated like we are Ad-Seg.

We do get day room from 7am to 10:30pm, phone, TV, we go to commissary off the building, mail room. We don’t have a chow hall we only have a room with 6 tables, they have to bring cooked food to 12 building from the main kitchen. To the kitchen on 12 building which only has a steam table that we get served off of it.

[Censorship] [Campaigns] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 68]

Texas Bans Mailing its own Grievance Manual to Prisoners

tdcj griev manual censorship

We just got word that the Texas Department of Criminal inJustice (TDCJ) has denied delivery of the TDCJ Offender Grievance Manual to one of our subscribers in Texas. Not just at the unit level (we were not informed of the censorship at the unit level by Polunsky Unit mailroom staff, in direct contradiction to TDCJ's own policies)(1), but the Director's Review Committee even upheld the censorship of the grievance manual. The Director.

Well, what could possibly be the reason given for censoring TDCJ's own manual which was written for "offenders"? Couldn't tell you. All the notice says is it was "received in contradiction with BP-03.91, Uniform Offender Correspondence Rules." Don't forget, BP-03.91 doesn't just say that this item is denied delivery to this particular subscriber. It says that this item is banned in the entire state for all time. Just like [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, our "Defend the Legacy of the Black Panther Party" study pack, and multiple issues of Under Lock & Key (at least including Nos. 63, 57, 54, 51, 45, 35, 32, 28, and 27).

You might be wondering why MIM Distributors is sending in the grievance manual anyways. It's a TDCJ document, after all. And according to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, the grievance manual ought to be available to prisoners.(2) Well, in September 2014, a memo went out that removed the grievance manual from all TDCJ law libraries.(2) Why would they do this? Don't know, they didn't say. TDCJ's grievance system is notoriously ineffective and deliberately obstructive. And Texas is historically one of the worst states when it comes to brutal national oppression. Seems to be part of those overall patterns.

We did have a "victory," so minor that it's even embarrassing to use that word. The Director's Review Committee Decision Form actually listed the name of the item that they censored! Wow! We didn't have to go hunting around in the list of mail we sent to this subscriber, guessing which item was censored based on the date we mailed it out. This is often a very difficult detail to pin down, considering how much mail we send in and the weeks- and months-long delays in the TDCJ censorship procedures.

So, we've been protesting the ineffective grievance process in Texas for almost ten years. The grievance manual was hidden almost 5 years ago. And now we can't even mail in the grievance manual. We do plan to appeal this censorship to the Director's Review Committee, but often our letters to them go unanswered. In the short term, we need people (and lawyers!) in Texas to put pressure on TDCJ to stop obstructing prisoners' access to the grievance system. Ultimately we need to overthrow this totally bunk injustice system and the economic system it protects.