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.
I would like to express my deepest concerns about the poor grievance process and retaliatory nature of the medical staff here on the Darrington Unit in Rosharon, TX. The medical staff of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) diagnosed me with a B12 deficiency which can only be resolved by monthly B12 injections to supplement the low level within my system.
However, upon being transferred to Darrington Unit, Dr. Hulipas declined to administer an injection for three months before the medication was finally given. This particular medication had to be administered every 28 days, nevertheless I would receive the injection only every 45 days or longer. I therefore filed a number of grievances.
In response to the grievances, the grievance investigators instructed the staff to provide the medication as prescribed. The medical unit's reaction was swift as the nurse practitioner removed ten medical restrictions from my file without a thorough examination. My attempt to have it resolved by the grievance process was unsuccessful. In fact, while the grievance investigator ruled that restrictions can be removed, an offender has a right to challenge the removal of restrictions at no co-payment charge. My attempts to be re-evaluated by the medical staff were unsuccessful as well. The grievance coordinator refuses to process the I-127 filed asking to be seen by a physician in order to resolve the issue.
At this time, every restriction was and still is removed leaving this offender in potentially dangerous medical neglect. Hopefully, this letter will shine light on the treatment patients are receiving at Darrington and in Texas prisons as a whole.
Reification is a term that refers to using the labor power of the people and in turn using it as a powerful force to keep them under oppression.
The only way Texas can afford to keep 150,000 people imprisoned and continue to give parole "set offs" after they are parole eligible by law is through the use of forced labor to offset operating costs. Theoretically speaking if TDCJ were forced by law to pay prisoner workers through a new supreme court precedent, or if prisoners quit participating in enslaving themselves, parole would be presumptive and automatically granted at first eligibility.
Our freedom is at stake here, friends. That is why this issue is absolutely vital. In Texas, per a 1993 law which was passed in reaction to the 90s crack-cocaine-fueled crime wave, violent or aggravated offenders must serve 1/2 their entire sentence before becoming parole eligible. And often times after decades of dreams, hope, hard labor and good behavior, alas many are given the dreaded "set off." So much time has elapsed that their momma has died, their support structures have crumbled, and they have become old men in terrible health due to poor diet, unable to gain meaningful employment, dreams are dashed. All their efforts seem totally futile.
It reminds me of the book Animal Farm by George Orwell and how they treat the work horse, Boxer. They push the old work horse to work harder and harder for the revolution, promising him great comforts and retirement benefits one day in the future. However the day comes when he becomes so old and unable to work they send him off to slaughter at the glue factory. TDCJ's treatment of its prisoners is very analogous to this. When will we wake up?
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an interesting take on a theme that we hear about constantly from our subscribers in Texas. This writer is saying that if prisoners didn't help offset the operational costs of their own imprisonment, that TDCJ would be forced to release them because it could no longer afford to keep so many people locked up.
There is a contradiction between the high costs to keep people in prison, and the pressure applied to the criminal injustice system from citizens who want to keep oppressed nations in check. Texas is one of the most racist borderland states and has a very long history of national oppression and white supremacy.(1) The call for harsher sentences coinciding with the crack epidemic is simply a manifestation of this racism. It's not about fear of violence; it's about fear of Black violence.
TDCJ certainly would have a harder time financing its prison operations if it actually had to pay prisoners for their labor. But if it started releasing people because of these financial problems, we'd be hearing it from the citizenry. We aren't sure what lengths the state would go to to appease its white constituency.
In fact, we have also heard countless reports of what TDCJ does when it has "budget problems": it makes conditions worse for the prisoners by skipping rec time, medical call, and other duties it has to prisoners. We have yet to receive a letter from someone saying that TDCJ has started releasing prisoners due to budget problems.
The battle here isn't between the prisoners getting paid for labor, and the TDCJ not paying them. The battle is between the interests of the oppressed nations who are housed in TDCJ prisons, with their entire lives stolen from them, and the Amerikkkan nation which has a strong material, social, and cultural interest in keeping these oppressed nations locked up. If that battle manifests in a struggle for work to be paid for in TDCJ, or for TDCJ to honor good time - work time credits in releasing prisoners, then we are all for it. But we can't lose sight of this bigger contradiction, which is what the entire prisoner labor struggle rests on.
This contradiction has always existed since the beginning of the Amerikan nation, and even prior to that when it was still in development. And it has only been heightened under the Trump presidency. We aim to build our power so that we can overcome the contradiction, in unity with oppressed peoples all over the world. Any struggle for paid prisoner labor should primarily be a struggle to build our internal unity and organizing.
I have been a subscriber to ULK and frequently writer to MIM(Prisons). On December 21, 2016 TDCJ moved me here to the Darrington Unit to attend the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Originally only 29 students were picked for this year for the class of 2021, me being among them. The Heart of Texas Foundation who bankroll the operation were angry so TDCJ quickly acted to fill up the class to 40 students. I was thoroughly vetted and had been attending class for over 3 weeks.
February 9, 2017 during class Dr. Phillips the person in charge of the Darrington extension, and assistant Warden Denheim pulled me out of class and said they felt I was "not ready for the program." I asked them if it was due to my grades, behavioral or disciplinary problems. They said no. This is highly inappropriate and I have not been given due process. According to the application I signed I can be removed by TDCJ for disciplinary reasons after a disciplinary hearing or be removed by Southwestern after an appropriate review process. I asked them if this had to do with my case or recent media correspondence with reporters Mike Ward and Jonathan Tilove of the Austin American Statesman. They said no.
We are in a sad situation on Darrington Unit, they have a strong buddy-buddy system, male officers sexing with the female officers for favoritism. Then the woman over our grievance department is married to our disciplinary hearing officer... yeah - really true facts.
I did make parole back in March 2016 and it got taken from me; however, I passed the torch and gave the package to another comrades. I have gotten three majors by one asst. warden, then two by two different captains. I have this correctional officer always telling me to suck his penis, so when I filed my step 1 grievance, Darrington Unit Administrative retaliated by writing me two cases offense report I-210 on 29.0's, which stop me from making parole.
We are placed back here in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) for being part of a security threat group (STG), a supposedly "confirmed" gang member. I was placed in Ad-Seg in 2002 for corresponding with other prisoners in another unit who were already confirmed. I got out of prison in 2004, and have just recently come back this past year, and once again I find myself placed in Ad-Seg even though I am not part of a gang. I have tried to write to the gang officers and even wrote a history report about my association in the past. I was told I would go to a G.R.A.D. program that's designed for ex-gang-members. I have yet to hear anything.
During this time in Ad-Seg, we are supposed to receive an hour of exercise (recreation) per day. Well I have been here on this unit going on 6 months and have been to recreation only twice. I have written a Step 1 grievance only to be told that they would get to us when staff permitted. They claim to be under-staffed. But general population gets their daily recreation, and they have enough staff to allow them to shake our cells down every other day during showers. There are other units that are really under-staffed, yet their Ad-Seg blocks receive their hour of recreation. It's sad because some of us need the exercise for medical reasons, and all of us need it for mental issues. Constantly in the cell all day every day is really a mind battle and a severe health issue.
MIM(Prisons) responds: In Under Lock & Key 41 we published many accounts of gang validation being used as a tool of social control. The STG designation is held over the heads of prisoners who are often among the most politically active, and then used as an excuse to isolate them from others. It is irrelevant to the prison administration whether or not these "confirmed" people actually affiliate with a criminal organization. And in some places, working with MIM(Prisons) is considered criteria for classifying people as a security threat. We publish accounts like this one to demonstrate the ongoing conditions of torture in these isolation programs, and the arbitrary use of the STG label. But in reality we do not trust the criminal injustice system to decide who is a threat to security; the biggest security threats are running the Amerikan government and its military and prison systems.