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.
In my first newsletter of Under Lock & Key you spoke a lot about prison labor. Here on Eastham, you can't get the offenders to assume their role as the ones being imprisoned. This unit can literally run itself without the aid of the officers. From the counts, to disciplinary, to the organization of movement. In the past ten years they have resurrected the yellow lines. In between the lines they have waxed the floors and added the states emblem. They also have refused to write on causes that are structured because of violations on constitutional rights and even rights that deny us actual entitlements.
I miss the days where K-2 was plentiful on this unit. Why? Because some of these same individuals who are running the prison were the ones who helped ruin it. Don't get me wrong, it's not that bad of a race to do your time. It's easy time. It's peaceful all the time. And the programs here are plentiful. You have to learn how to keep to yourself here, but besides that we really have a clean plate to eat on.
The same place where you'll eat better with a stamp, or dress better with a bag of coffee. Some days I look at these men and I see where they come from, who they hung around, and what they were focused on. If you have a noble cause to rally, you'll fail to grasp the attention of over 80% of Eastham. These men are content with their lives being in jeopardy, their rights violated, their health threatened, and their freedoms stripped. If I were to tell every man in white on this unit to "lay it down" about 10% of the unit would stand strong. All they care about is making stamps, going to recreation and commissary, rumors and gossip, and last but not least the craft shop. A sad place to call home, and a horrible place to start a movement.
9 May 2017 — There was a chemical agent attack on E-Line at the Eastham Unit, located in Lovelady, Texas. One of our comraes from United Struggle from Within (USW) filed a Step 1 Grievance and had a free-world friend submit an Ombudsman complaint on eir behalf.
An assistant warden B. Johnson at the Eastham Unit answered the Step 1 and failed to acknowledge the reckless and abusive use of the chemical agent.
Lieutenant Lisa Hibbard was the employee who deployed 2 canisters of CS Gas, whose contents entered the building of E-Line and subjected numerous prisoners to this volatile chemical agent. E-Line is an Ad-Seg wing so there was absolutely no escaping the gas. This particular gas (CS) is LETHAL when used in high concentrations and when ventilation is limited.
The "cover-up" is in full effect on Eastham Unit. Univerity of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) staff made absolutely no attempt to check on the status of prisoners on E-Line who were exposed to the gas.
When it comes to medical neglect or the wanton abuse of Texas prisoners, all too many times UTMB is a willing partner with TDCJ employees. It is important to shed light on these events because TDCJ has erected a wall between the public and what actually takes place inside these slave kamps and gulags.
Military-grade weapons such as this CS gas should not be used on incarcerated prisoners. The humyn rights abuses in Texas prisons are not being addressed.
I am writing to let you all know that at Eastham unit there are episodes of the K-2 epidemic. One person falls out we get locked down for 24 hours. Just one line. Its not in the rule book or disciplinary books, they lock you up for nothing, especially if you can't snitch on someone.
A Lt beat me up last year, I wrote it up and my step 1 disappeared so I could not write a step 2. Also I sent my copies of everything to Huntsville, TX they sent my stuff back saying they don't want any problems or complaints sent to them, when I got the paperwork back I was missing my medical report.
They wrote me an attempted assault on officer. When I got my time sheet they changed it to an assault on officer said it was the same thing, I still have the original case. I'm writing to ask for a Texas Pack. They took mine when they shook me down. My legal work was scattered all around and only my legal folder was gone through. I had my other papers in another folder. I get tired of retaliation and can't do nothing about it.
Eastham is out of control, cussing us out all day long. We report it or write it up. Comes back with no proof and that we lie. The guards and rank work together.
Conditions on Eastham are horrible. It's very old and dirty. The pipe chases are infested with rats! They live in the hollow area of our toilets where they fight and breed all night! The black mold and dust in the pipe chase has also spawned a lot of upper-respiratory infections in prisoners here. There is absolutely NO oversight or accountability.
Revolutionary greetings comrades, it has been a while since I reported from behind enemy lines. As Donald Trump enters the oval office I don't see any other choice than to partner with MIM(Prisons) in order to educate and organize the lumpen underclass. My comrades and I are actively engaged in a battle which seeks to abolish prison slavery as well as shed a discerning spotlight on toxic prisons.
I arrived on Eastham Unit located in Lovelady, Texas in November 2016. This was my second transfer since the September 9th national actions. I've been placed in long-term solitary confinement because of my organizing surrounding that and other campaigns.
Eastham Unit is one of the oldest prisons in Texas. The plumbing has deteriorated and corroded in such a way that dirt and sediment from the soil leaks into the water supply producing a foul stench in the water. The offensive smell of the water was the first thing I noticed. Officers here liken the smell to boiled eggs and burnt rubber. ULK 49 (March/April 2016) published an article on contaminated water at Eastham Unit and we know the contaminants to be copper and lead!
My application of historical dialectical materialism has taught me the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) misinforms the public about conditions inside its numerous slave kamps and gulags. But moreover, I have discovered a collusive and conspiratorial relationship between state agencies like the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and TDCJ.(1)
Wallace Pack Unit located in Navasota, Texas is the case in point. The arsenic levels in the water were at least double the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard and the TCEQ knew this for quite some time. But it wasn't until Panagioti Tsolkas of Prison Legal News exposed the contamination that conversations began. However, it took the actual prisoners at Wallace Pack Unit, with representatives from the NABPP-PC to take their destiny into their own hands and file complaints with the federal court.(2)
Already I see a shroud of secrecy and the overt signs of an elaborate cover-up concerning the water at Eastham Unit. Prison officials, who are easily identified as members of the labor aristocracy and bourgeoisie imperialist pig class, do not have a vested interest in the long-term health of prisoners.
Prisoners at Eastham Unit must fight back! The first thing we do is file a Step 1 (I-127) grievance form. Then simultaneously, those that have friends and family must request they file a formal public complaint online with the TDCJ Ombudsman office (e-mail address [email protected]). While these are marinating we start a letter campaign to the Prison Ecology Project, P.O. Box 1151, Lakeworth, Florida 33460.(3)
Behind enemy lines, I will be doing what I can do to attract media attention and free world help but without comrades actively filing grievances about the water I will be on the front line by myself and the oppressor will claim I am just creating lies. A favorite pig tactic.
Even if you've filed on this poison water in the past, please consider filing again. A huge support network is following our work as we combat toxic prisons. I had a discussion with one of the pigs who works here. The subject was the closing down of Eastham because of the poison water. Here is what he said: "You think you can get the state to shut this unit down on account of the water? They don't care about that – what they care about is those 800 acres of corn we got in the ground in them fields!"
Comrades, I couldn't say a damn word! Because it will be the lumpen prisoners who will be picking that damn corn! I must echo the words of the Free Alabama Movement - "Let the crops rot in the field." And what do you think would happen to that corn if the public knew those corn fields were being irrigated with poison water!? Knowledge is power isn't it?
A significant step in this struggle is getting prisoners recognized as environmental justice communities by the EPA, so that prison facilities can be forced into compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.(6) However, the state of Texas has created laws and policies that keep the EPA out of its toxic prisons so we must create a public outcry in order to knock the doors down! Apply Pimp C's "Knockin Doorz Down" as needed! UGK for life!(7)
Dare to struggle, dare to win, all power to the people!
MIM(Prisons) responds: It is great to have clear steps in order for any tactical work to be successful, so we highlight this campaign as one with a clear path broken down into small steps, making it easy to get involved and mark progress. While we struggle on these reformist campaigns, we also know that they are unlikely to be successful. But that is all part of building public opinion for socialist revolution. In a socialist system, as in China under Mao, people's needs were valued above profits and prisoners were not poisoned via their water supply.
People should not be forced to get heavy metal poisoning just because they are in prison (or because they live in an oppressed nation community as what happened in Flint, Michigan). The EPA, one of those bandaid organizations of the United $tates government to give people something to focus on instead of straight up revolution, is unlikely to categorize prisoners as environmental justice communities, and also unlikely to enforce their policies in prisons in Texas. Even if they did, to enforce environmental policies on Texas prisons is a decades-long struggle, while hundreds of thousands of people will be forced to drink poisonous heavy metals in the meantime.
Still, we support this campaign and encourage our readers to get involved. It may win some improvements in water quality that will have a significant impact on the health of Texas prisoner. Even if the campaign fails, it is a good example of how futile petitioning the U.$. government agencies generally is. If the campaign succeeds, it will likely only be with caveats which undermine the overall campaign, which we can point to as an example of the futility of reformism. Either way, Texas prisoners come out better organized and better poised for the only struggle that has shown any success in valuing peoples' well-being, and that's the revolutionary struggle toward socialism and communism.
I received the Texas Grievance Pack you sent to me, and I am able to assist other Texas prisoners here on this unit in some issues which we are facing. Though none is as serious as the fact that a few months ago we prisoners on Eastham Unit in Lovelady, Texas, were and still are having to drink contaminated water which is tainted with at least lead and copper! The Officers here on this unit do not drink the water but we prisoners are forced to as we are trapped here like rats in a wet box. At least the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TECQ) put up a public notice concerning this. So now we know and are aware that we are slowly being poisoned. This is the most pressing issue we are facing here. It is one thing to pay for your wrongs or crimes by doing time, but to also have to be poisoned by the state erstwhile is something else entirely.
MIM(Prisons) adds: From the projects to reservations to prisons to indigenous peoples in rainforests, poisoning oppressed people slowly through contaminating an essential nutrient to humyn life — water — has long been a tactic of national oppression. In the pages of ULK we have long been reporting on contaminated water at various prisons across the country.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on lead:
"Lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body... Lead can accumulate in our bodies over time, where it is stored in bones along with calcium. Adults exposed to lead can suffer from:
Cardiovascular effects, increased blood pressure and incidence of hypertension
Decreased kidney function
Reproductive problems (in both men and women)"(1)
Below is information from the Minnesota Department of Health on Copper in drinking water:
"Copper is a reddish metal that occurs naturally in rock, soil, water, sediment, and air. It has many practical uses in our society and is commonly found in coins, electrical wiring, and pipes. It is an essential element for living organisms, including humans, and-in small amounts-necessary in our diet to ensure good health. However, too much copper can cause adverse health effects, including vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea. It has also been associated with liver damage and kidney disease."(2)
The EPA enacted the Lead and Copper Rule in 1991,
"The treatment technique for the rule requires systems to monitor drinking water at customer taps. If lead concentrations exceed an action level of 15 ppb or copper concentrations exceed an action level of 1.3 ppm in more than 10% of customer taps sampled, the system must undertake a number of additional actions to control corrosion [of pipes]."(3)
If possible, find out the level of lead and copper in your pipes and if it exceeds the amount recommended by the EPA you may be able to start a campaign in your facility around this shared problem. The EPA is a notoriously bureaucratic organization (and part of the U.$. government that perpetuates the destruction of oppressed nations) so finding relief from them is unlikely. In the fight for survival pending revolution, avoiding known poisons might be a campaign to take on and use to build unity.
I have been locked up in a Texas State Prison for the last 4 years and I have to admit they do things very different in this state and in their institutions. The administration treats the prisoners like cattle, but I have strategized against their schemes from the very beginning. I have lost some battles but I am winning the war.
About a month ago two guys got into a fight in the chowhall and after they put handcuffs on both of them they began kicking one of them and hitting him with night sticks when he was on the floor. The whole chowhall came together and approached the ranking Lieutenant and officers and questioned why they were unnecessarily beating him up, and even told them that was enough. The Lieutenant started cursing and screaming, telling people to "get the fxxk back." He was a new Lieutenant and hopefully he learned never to put himself or his staff in danger like that again cause what happened after that amazed me. The convicts set it off!!! That Lieutenant got beat pretty bad and split open seriously. This was the first time I have seen us come together in Texas for what's right.
Yesterday the administration tried to jack us for our dayroom time, and the TV and the fan in the dayroom didn't work the whole time we were out there. The dayroom is already small and over capacity so you can imagine how hot it was. We only get 4 hours a day out of our cells so we couldn't let them get away with this injustice or they would have thought they could handle us on the regular. So everybody refused to rack up in our cells. The Sergeant tried threatening us, saying if he had to call higher rank then he would lock us down for 23 hours, but we didn't budge, we stood our ground. The Lieutenant on shift came down and asked us what the problem was. One person at a time spoke and we represented our argument and cause respectfully, united and firm. He clearly respected the movement and he said "since y'all stood together like this you guys can get another two hours." Everyone began clapping for another victory against the oppressor for a cause.
Now today, the very next day, we were in the dayroom about to watch a very good game everyone was looking forward to when we witnessed a Sergeant who is known for beating up prisoners, beating up a prisoner handcuffed on the floor after tackling him. We went bananas and again together we stood up for one of ours. We couldn't physically help but we let our voices be heard and we were furious. They came in our line and tried to rack us up but we refused and challenged them because they were wrong. We were just doing what we were supposed to do: taking a stand. The Captain ended up giving us his word if we racked up he would let us right back out. He was true to his word like we knew he would be. After things calmed down we were let out. But now they know we aren't gonna sit back while they do us wrong. That's the only way your condition will change: if you take a stand, together.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade describes well the Peace and Unity principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons in action. The UFPP provides a principled basis for organizations and individuals to come together to fight for real and lasting peace. Only by implementing these principles can we have any power over how we are treated in prison.
Texas institutions are playgrounds for the imperialist and their drones. The sexual abuse scandal of the Texas Youth Commission exposes how immoral just one of its branches is. Here on the Eastham Unit we are subjected to daily forms of psychological abuse, stress torture, atrocious harassment, and threats, deprivation of basic necessities and violence. I am on an ad-seg line. The pigs constantly turn off our water, without telling us, warning us to get water before it's off. It's always the same excuses, i.e. the pump, a pipe, or they're fixing something. The pigs only cut off ad-seg water supply while general population remains on. Under the no-water ruse, ad-seg can not shower or go to rec. The pigs don't do anything but sit on their ass. They bitch about having to serve us our trays at chow time. The no-water ruse isn't a once in a while occurrence. No, at least every other month we go a week or more without water. Some days the temperature is 95 degrees outside but 112 degrees inside.
The discrimination doesn't end with water. While general population gets full portions of food at meal time. Ad-seg inmates are severely rationed. The pigs instruct and direct inmate kitchen workers to shake-the-spoon (half spoon serving), cut smaller portions, leave off food segments or side items, and substitute ad-seg meat entree with processed pork substances. While general population has beef ribs, we get pork sausage link. GP gets ice cold juice, we get watered down diluted piss water, usually at room temperature or hotter.
There is a policy to do nothing for ad-seg inmates. We have to protest, argue and complain (PAC) to every shift supervisor to get clean laundry. We have to PAC to get porters to clean our showers, sweep and mop the line and have them keep their hands off our food trays. We PAC with maintenance to get running water, light and power or for them to fix the toilet that's been flushing for over two months. We PAC about the spiders and roaches and mice, about the bird crap that's caked up on the rec yard. We have to PAC for our mail, shower, rec, meals and medical. The only time the pigs do any of this on their own is when the American Correctional Association is inspecting.