Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Bill Clements Unit - Texas

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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.

[Deaths in Custody] [COVID-19] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]
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Death at Bill Clements Unit

Hello MIM (Prisons):

Will you please send me a free subscription/subscriptions?

I would also like to bring to your attention that it took 3 days for the guards to find out that an inmate had died in A5 closed custody on the Bill Clements unit in Amarillo, TX. The cause of death is unknown to many of us inmates with this quarantine COVID-19 pandemic crisis lock down in effect. We inmates on the Bill Clements unit in Amarillo, TX would like to know if the inmate that died was because of violence or because of the Corona COVID-19 virus. Will you please investigate so us inmates on the Bill Clements unit in Amarillo, TX will have answers please.

Thank you.


MIM(Prisons) responds: As of 26 June 2020, the TDCJ reports at least 79 prisoner deaths and eight staff due to COVID-19. While no prisoners were reported dying from COVID-19 at Clements unit prior to 21 April 2020, the date of your letter, one staff member from Clements did die that day. Since then, a few prisoners from Clements have died as well after being sent out to hospital.

https://www.tdcj.texas.gov/covid-19/index2.html

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[Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]
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Civil Rights Advocacy

My area of concern is Prisoners’ Civil Rights. I see all types of harassment! “Under color of state law” type issues are an ongoing problem in Texas prisons. But the thing that hurts me the most is inmates losing their line-class, custody level, and parole eligibility over a disciplinary report that consists of only one or two sentences.

Officers filing such reports are to give the full details underlying the facts of the whole situation. So this lack of detail leaves the door open for the officer to say anything they want at the hearing. It’s like they just hurry up and do a rush job on writing a case, then just make up the rest when the Disciplinary Hearing Officer calls the Charging Officer.

It’s wild! 95% of what the Charging Officer says is not mentioned in the report. So much for truth, accuracy and completeness of material information, right? The omission of detail – once the officer signs and dates anything – is falsification of records. And it’s like nobody sees it or even cares. Blows my mind! And these are the people the government hires to supposedly turn us back into society as rehabilitated.

I want people in prison to know their rights and use them. My group, called “Class Act” helps prisoners who are victims of harassment and mistreatment.

Write your grievances and allow 48 hours for them to be screened. Then, send a Request to the Unit Grievance Investigator asking for the case number and the investigator’s ID number. Keep your complaint alive. Request the status of your complaint. Let them know your complaint wont be swept under the rug. And inspire others to do the same.

I just started reading your newsletter and I want to be a member and receive your books for jailhouse lawyers. I’m in need of such material, or any helpful info you may have. Please put me on your list.

I’m white (lol). I need this plug of unity, I was very impressed by your newsletter. I am white, but I grew up in boys’ homes, jail and prison. So I’m looked at or I feel oppressed as a minority because I’m not down with the Supreme Race thing. I’ve never been a Gangster, but I’ve always been a thug. I’ve lived the Thug Life: sold drugs, done drugs since I was 15. I’m from the Hood.

If you can lace me up on your cause more clearly that would be cool. And I hope that my Civil Right Concern is an acceptable issue to be welcomed as a new Comrade. I’ll write more later this week. With much Love and Respect!


MIM(Prisons) adds: We welcome this comrade into the forces of United Struggle from Within and our ongoing campaigns in Texas and across the country to have our grievances addressed! It’s very heartening to hear about people helping others with their grievances and putting in work to build unity using whatever campaigns make sense where they are.

The more you get exposed to MIM’s politics, we hope you and the people you organize with will continue to see the bigger changes we’re striving for. Right now, civil rights campaigns in prison are a tactical part of an overall strategy of building independent institutions of the oppressed, and public opinion in favor of socialism. Beyond just reforming prisons, we want a world without oppression! This means an overthrow of capitalism, which we can’t get just through civil rights campaigns and filing grievances.

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[Mental Health] [Religious Repression] [Abuse] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]
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Texas Unit Denying Access to Gym Facilities

Greetings!

Recently I read one of you printouts and was very interested in getting one. I am enclosing some stamps that I hope will cover the mailing cost.

I am not sure if you can provide me with a bit of information but I am going to ask anyway…

Here on the William P. Clements Unit we NEVER have access to gym rec. ALL the gymnasiums have been taken over by staff for other uses. Building 3’s gym is for prisoner property… Building 4’s gym is for the craft shop that is NEVER open (staff shortage)… and building 8’s gym is for religious gatherings.

I don’t know if the TDCJ had a recreation policy change eliminating gym use for prisoner recreation, or if this is just something done on this unit. I am hoping you can let me know something.

Right now I am on G4/medium custody. We are only given 2 hours of day-room per day. No job assignments, other than field squad, which doesn’t exist. No educational programs. No religious services. Going to the law library is a tortuous experience because the staff member in there will do everything she can to keep a man from studying policies about TDCJ.

I don’t know if you can get the TDCJ Administrative Directive about general population recreation and let me know about the gym’s and about out-of-cell time for medium custody; but I’d be grateful if you can let me know something about this.

If this unit is in violation then I’ll be able to file the grievances, then get the courts to assist in correcting the violations.

Hope to hear back soon. Enclosing seven new stamps.

Thank You!

Take Care! Stay Healthy!

PS: I only have six stamps right now; will do more later. Thanks!

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[Campaigns] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]
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Laws Exploit Loopholes in Grievance Procedure

The issue that I'm working on here at the Clements Unit is what the laws here call "time out." By the way, I received the Texas Pack and it has been a huge help. I can't thank you enough.

Anyways, when a law decides to harass an inmate, and gets a response he don't like, they place you in restraints and escort you do the Administration building, and put you in a holding cell with no restroom. There ain't no PHD(?) cells on that building. And they leave you in there for hours.

So while you're gone, your property is just wide open for grabs. Officers hate to inventory property but they quick to lock you up. So when you file a grievance, grievance staff try to save these laws by screening the complaint, and putting the wrong grievance code. So the objective is to stop all that deliberate indifference, and stop the due process violations and make it better for the next man. And the Texas Pack is one of the tools I needed to get me started.

If officers put as much effort into inventorying your property as they do locking you up on PHD, we wouldn't have to file property claims. But no, they use your property loss as a retaliation act.

So what I did is, on my complain (I-127), my opening statement made it clear that I was filing on the guidelines outlined under grievance code #515 (property lost/missing/stolen/damaged). Because if you don't state the grievance code, the investigator may put a different code. Grievance codes 512 through 515 consist of issues about property here in Texas.

Also, I was going through my past complaints (I-127s) and the action you request to resolve your situation could change the grievance code number. So be careful, and make sure your resolution request runs consistent with your statement of complaint. Because if you file a harassment complaint, and you request that a case be overturned, the grievance will be graded as "improper." "Staff harassment" is grievance code #812, but if you mention that you want the case he wrote you to be overturned, then it changes the issue. Then the complaint conflicts with the resolution, so therefore the grievance becomes "improper."

And I'm sure that is mentioned in the grievance manual that Texas hides. So inmates become frustrated because they don't understand and give up. Then the law wins again. Much love to MIMP and all my fellow inmates.

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[Campaigns] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]
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Conditions at Clements

I am reaching out to you today because I would like to request a Texas Grievance Guide and any other material pertaining to fighting the Texas prison system. At this time, I believe I'm being harassed because I have been moved 6 times in 2 months — the last time moving for 24 hours to one cell and then moving me back to the same exact cell that I had previously been in. Do you have any material that covers situations of this nature? I would very much appreciate any assistance you could provide. Thank you and keep up the fight

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[Abuse] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]
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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.

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[Organizing] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 66]
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Sack the Sack Lunches

I've always been revolutionary-minded, but it's a struggle here in Bill Clements Unit. Here's one example that happened early last month. I work in the laundry. Well all of us are waiting for them to call for chow (lunch), but all of a sudden the C.O.s running chow forget to feed laundry! So the chow C.O.s tell the laundry C.O. that they are going to give us sack lunches. All of a sudden, this is the sad part, a bunch of my fellow coworkers are going back into the laundry. Well a few of us spoke up saying we've been working and are NOT going to accept a sack lunch. Eventually they opened the chow hall for us. Well I guess this is all for now. Again thank you for all you do.


MIM(Prisons) Texas Coordinator responds: Small incidents like this one might seem inconsequential to many people, like those guys who just went back to laundry when told they were gonna get sack lunches. These are small wins that make a huge impact on people's minds, though. Showing people little successes like this whenever we can helps plant seeds in their consciousness about resisting oppression and standing up for themselves. It was a completely fair argument to make, that the C.O.s made a mistake and should fix it. So rather than get hung up on how sad it is that so many people just were going accept the sack lunches, i think it was really great that so many people got to see what having a backbone looks like in real life. Inevitably, this is what inspires people to grow their own backbones and start standing up for themselves. Thanks for this awesome report.

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[Medical Care] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]
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Medical Neglect at Clements Unit

I have been filing grievances as well as complaint letters to Ric Vogelgesang, FHA, TTUHSC-CMHC Health Administrator for issues such as physician assistant Paul Burch retaliated against me by discontinuing the Osmolites on October 18, 2018 which I have a serious underweight medical needs.

My height 6'6" + weight be going up and down to 150+170 the unit classification has to house me with a cellmate that is 5' because I am so thin and fragile.

I saw Lydia O'Leary LVN on September 27, 2018 and O'Leary put me in to see the provider and I did NOT see any provider. So I put another sick call request in and I seen O'Leary again on October 17, 2018 and I was put in to see the provider again and I did NOT see any provider.

Ric Vogelgesang knows I filed sexual abuse complaints on my physical assistant, Paul Burch. And he is still providing Burch for my health treatment. I've been retaliated, denied refills and other medical attention.

Some Patients are discouraged to file Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of sexual abuse or sexual harassment because correctional officers and medical personnel are going to retaliate against the victims to cover up unlawful behavior for their staff and keep other victims from filing PREA act grievances or other complaint forms.

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[Abuse] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]
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TDCJ preventing receipt of money for no reason

I been in 12 years and never really had an issue with my account, well, TDCJ put a "place hold" on my account which means they stop money from going in or coming out of your account which means no store. It's almost a year like this and I talk to the wardens at my last 3 units, file a grievance. There is no help in this system (TDCJ) for grievances. It was sent back the same day stating its not grievable, smh, and was told to write to the "inmate trust fund." I did and never heard from them either. See people live off the support the people in the world give, family, friends, etc. but TDCJ mis-use the policy to use it only in they power. I don't know what else to do and try not to worry my family for things I feel can be handled by me, but I have come to a dead end and am now seeking advice from your movement.

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[Censorship] [State Correctional Institution Camp Hill] [Bill Clements Unit] [Santa Rosa Correctional Institution] [Florida State Prison] [Jefferson Correctional Institution] [Coyote Ridge Corrections Center] [Richard A Handlon Correctional Facility] [Stateville Correctional Center] [Virginia] [Pennsylvania] [Texas] [Florida] [Washington] [Missouri] [Michigan] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 59]
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Censors in Their Own Words - November 2017

U.$. imperialist leaders and their labor aristocracy supporters like to criticize other countries for their tight control of the media and other avenues of speech. For instance, many have heard the myths about communist China forcing everyone to think and speak alike. In reality, these stories are a form of censorship of the truth in the United $tates. In China under Mao the government encouraged people to put up posters debating every aspect of political life, to criticize their leaders, and to engage in debate at work and at home. This was an important part of the Cultural Revolution in China. There are a number of books available in this country that give a truthful account, but far more money is put into anti-communist propaganda books. Here in the United $tates free speech is reserved for those with money and power.

In prisons in particular we see so much censorship, especially targeting those who are politically conscious and fighting for their rights. Fighting for our First Amendment right to free speech is a battle that MIM(Prisons) and many prisoners waste a lot of time and money on. For us this is perhaps the most fundamental of requirements for our organizing work. There are prisoners, and some entire prisons (and sometimes entire states) that are denied all mail from MIM(Prisons). This means we can't send in educational material, or study courses, or even supply a guide to fighting censorship. Many prisons regularly censor ULK claiming that the news and information printed within is a "threat to security." For them, printing the truth about what goes on behind bars is dangerous. But if we had the resources to take these cases to court we believe we could win in many cases.

Denying prisoners mail is condemning some people to no contact with the outside world. To highlight this, and the ridiculous and illegal reasons that prisons use to justify this censorship, we will periodically print a summary of some recent censorship incidents in ULK.

We hope that lawyers, paralegals, and those with some legal knowledge will be inspired to get involved and help us with these censorship battles, both behind bars and on the streets. For the full list of censorship incidents, along with copies of appeals and letters from the prison, check out our censorship reporting webpage.

Virginia DOC

The Chair of the publications review committee for the VA DOC, Melissa Welch, sent MIM(Prisons) a letter denying ULK 56, and then the next month the same letter denying ULK 57. Both letters cite the same reasons:

"D. Material, documents, or photographs that emphasize depictions or promotions of violence, disorder, insurrection, terrorist, or criminal activity in violation of state or federal laws or the violation of the Offender Disciplinary Procedure.

"F. Material that depicts, describes, or promotes gang bylaws, initiations, organizational structure, codes, or other gang-related activity or association."

Pennsylvania DOC

Last issue of ULK we reported on the censorship of ULK57 in Pennsylvania. After sending a protest letter to appeal the decision we had a rare victory! From the Policy Office, PA Department of Corrections:
"This is to notify you that the publication in issue does not violate Department Policy. As such, the decision of the correctional institution is reversed and the inmates in the PA Department of Corrections will be permitted to receive the publication. The correctional institutions will be notified by the Policy Office of the decision."

If anyone in PA hasn't received ULK 57 yet, let us know and we will send another copy to you.

Pennsylvania SCI-Camp Hill

From a prisoner we were forwarded a notice of incoming publication denial for ULK 57: "create a danger within the context of the correctional facility" p.21, 24

The description quotes sentences that can't be found within ULK including: "PREA system strip searches for harassment in PA", "Black prisoners deserve to retaliate against predominantly white ran system", and "This is a excellent reminder of PA importance of fighting." They are making up text as reasons for censorship in Pennsylvania.

Texas - Bill Clemens Unit

A prisoner forwarded us a denial for ULK 57 "Page 11 contains information that could cause a prison disruption."

In March 2017, our study pack Defend the Legacy of the Black Panther Party was censored for

"Reason C. Page 9 contains information that could cause a strike or prison disruption."
This adds to the growing list of our most important literature that is banned in the state forever, including Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletariat and [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlan. We need someone with legal expertise to challenge Texas's policies that allow for publications to be banned forever in the state.

Florida - Santa Rosa Correctional Institution

A prisoner forwarded us a notice of impoundment of ULK 57. The reason cited: "Pages 1, 11, 14, 15, & 17 advocates insurgency and disruption of institutional operations."

We appealed this denial and got a response from Dean Peterson, Library Services Administrator for the Florida DOC, reiterating the reasons for impoundment and upholding the denial: "In their regularly scheduled meeting of August 30, 2017 the Literature Review Committee of the Florida Department of Corrections upheld the institution's impoundment and rejected the publication for the grounds stated. This means that issue will not be allowed into our correctional institutions."

Florida DOC

Following up on a case printed in ULK 57 regarding Florida's denial of the MIM(Prisons) censorship pack, for no specific reasons. We received a response to our appeal of this case from the same Dean Peterson, Library Services Administrator, named above.

"From the number of the FDC form you reference and your description of what happened it is apparent the institutional mailroom did not handle the Censorship Guide as a publication, but instead handled it in accordance with the Florida Administrative Code rule for routine mail. As such, the item was not impounded, was not posted to the list of impounded publications for any other institution to see, was not referred to the Literature Review Committee for review, and thus does not appear on the list of rejected publications. That means that if the exact same Guide came to any other inmate mailroom staff would look at it afresh. In theory, it could even be allowed into the institution. ... "The Florida Administrative Code makes no provision for further review."

Florida - Florida State Prison

ULK 58 was rejected for what appears to just be a list of titles of articles, some not even complete:

PGS 6 Liberation schools to organize through the wall (talk about the hunger strikes)
PGS 8 DPRK; White Supremacy's Global Agenda
PGS 11 Case law to help those facing
PGS 19 White and gaining consciousness

Florida - Jefferson Correctional Institution

Meditations on Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings by James Yaki Sayles was denied to a prisoner at Jefferson Correctional Institution because "inmate has received a second copy of the same edition of this publication violating chapter 33-501.401 (16)(b) and procedure 501.401(7)(d)."

Washington state - Coyote Ridge CC

The invitation to and first assignment for our correspondence introductory study group was rejected by Mailroom Employee April Long for the following reasons:

"Advocates violence against others and/or the overthrow of authority.
Advocates that a protected class or group of individuals is inferior and/or makes such class/group the object of ridicule and/or scorn, and may reasonably be thought to precipitate a violent confrontation between the recipient and a member(s) of the target group. Rejected incoming mailing from MIM. Mailing contains working that appears to be referring to law enforcement as 'pigs' it appears to be ridiculing and scornful. There is also a section in mailing labeled solutions that calls prisoners to take actions against prison industries and gives specific ideas/suggestions. Nothing to forward onto offender."

A recent study assignment for the University of Maoist Thought was also censored at Coyote Ridge. MIM(Prisons) has not yet been informed of this censorship incident by the facility. The study group participant wrote and told us it was censored for being a "copy of copyrighted material." The material in question was published in 1972 in the People's Republic of China. Not only did that government actively work against capitalist concepts such as copyright, we believe that even by the United $tates' own standards this book should not be subject to censorship.

Washington state

Clallam Bay CF rejected ULK 58 because: "Newsletter is being rejected as it talks about September 9 events including offenders commencing a hunger strike until equal treatment, retaliation and legal rights issues are resolved."

Coyote Ridge CC rejected ULK 58 for a different set of reasons: "Contains plans for activity that violates state/federal law, the Washington Administrative Code, Department policy and/or local facet/rules. Contains correspondence, information, or other items relating to another offender(s) without prior approval from the Superintendent/designee: or attempts or conveys unauthorized offender to offender correspondence."

Canada

We received the following report from a Canadian prisoner who had sent us some stamps to pay for a few issues of ULK to be mailed to Canada.

"A few months ago, on July 18, I received notice from the V&C department informing that five issues of ULK had arrived here for me. The notice also explained that the issues had been seized because of a Commissioner's Directive (764.6) which states that '[t]he institutional head may prohibit entry into the institution of material that portrays excessive violence and aggression, or prison violence; or if he or she believes on reasonable grounds that the material would incite inmates to commit similar acts.' I grieved the seizure, among other things, citing the sections on page 2 of ULK, which 'explicitly discourage[s prisoners] from engaging in any violence or illegal acts,' and citing too the UFPP statement of peace on page 3, which speaks of the organizational aim to end needless conflicts and violence within prisons.

"Well, I can now report that my grievance was upheld and that all copies of ULK were released to me, but not without the censorship of drawings deemed to portray or promote the kind of violence described in the above-cited Commissioner's Directive. It's a decision I can live with for now."

Missouri

We got reports from two people that the blanket ban on ULK in Missouri was removed and ULK 58 was received. If you're in Missouri and still not getting your ULK, be sure to let us know.

Michigan - Richard A Handlon CF

ULK 58 was rejected because "Articles in Under Lock & Key contains information about criminal activity that might entice criminal activity within the prison facility - threat to security."

Illinois - Stateville CC

ULK 58 was rejected because: "The publication appears to: Advocate or encourage violence, hatred, or group disruption or it poses an intolerable risk of violence or disruption. Be otherwise detrimental to security, good order, rehabilitation, or discipline or it might facilitate criminal activity or be detrimental to mental health. Detrimental to safety and security of the facility. Disrupts order. Promotes organization and leadership."


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