Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Ellis 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.

[Campaigns] [Civil Liberties] [Ellis Unit] [Texas]
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Typewriter Supplies Seized for Helping Others with Grievances

It is October 2019, and I am forced to send this hand-drafted communication due to an act of retaliation by the property officer, Ms. Scott, on this Ellis Unit. Ms. Scott took from me eight of my purchased commissary typewriter ribbons, two of which were staged in my typewriter, with two print wheels of different font sizings. Thus turning my $225 typewriter, which took me 9 months to save up for, into an expensive paper weight.

I wish I had someone out in the world who would/could call, advocating on my behalf for returning my personal property. It was taken in retaliation for my drafting grievances for prisoners subjected to the same by the property C.O., C.O. Scott. If I must litigate for my property’s return I will go all out.

Yes, I have it in my blood to help those in need of it. And I do just that when I can. I do the best I can with what I have; always studying and collecting viable information from every source available. That is one reason these guys come to me for advice and legal draftings. The administration is aware of this, and this is why they collusively have crippled my typewriter as they have.

They are forcing me to initiate a writing campaign to Congressmen seeking readings of my grievances against them in their violations [brought to the state by way of the 14th Amendment] of my 1st, 4th, 5th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Another one I am compelled to notify is the U.S. Attorney General and the Department of Justice. There are no less than a dozen inmates on this Ellis Unit whose step two grievances are in severe default; being 60 days beyond the extension by the OGP (offender grievance program). Therewith voiding any certification bestowed on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Agency’s Grievance System. Allowing us to circumvent the PLRA’s prerequisted administrative remedies so as to go straight to the federal court, because Texas has no court designated program that inmates might seek relief through.

MIM(Prisons) adds: There is a dire need for people on the outside to do public advocacy work for our comrades inside, which is a need that MIM(Prisons) members can’t take on. To this end, MIM(Prisons) supports Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support (AIPS) chapters around the country. Contact us to get involved!

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[Abuse] [Ellis Unit] [Texas]
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Suicide, Lockdown and Threats at Ellis Unit

I am going through a lot, I been placed in segregation for no reason. They are extending my stay under false policies. I did no wrong. I look forward to Under Lock and Key, I have received all issues.

A kid killed himself here so we are on lockdown. What these wards are doing is wrong. I have done no wrong. We live in fear here. They use the rules as loop holes to harm us. Falsely file forms to hide their actions. I fear to say too much. I am trying for transfer then you will get the full story.

In fear,

Huntsville TX 77343

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[Abuse] [Ellis Unit] [Texas]
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Lack of Training COs Creates Safety Risks at Ellis Unit

Things on the Ellis Unit are still at the total Cluster Fuck level thanks to the Administration which seems to do that which log-jams movement of Inmates and the flow of that movement necessary to a well-run unit.

It has come painfully to my attention that safety of Inmates is far from central to this administration's focus. There is a training academy for New Boots attached to this Unit where they are trained and then they are attached here in an OJT status. It used to be a standard that only a CO 5 would be allowed to conduct OJT training for these cadets. NOW, it only needs be a CO 3 to qualify as an OJT trainer.

On its face this seems acceptable, yet, when one ascertains that a graduating Cadet from the training academy is typically awarded the status of CO 3, it becomes clear that this is typical of Texas' treatment of its inmates, both physically as well as through the parole system. What may appear to be acceptable, or even positive developments is actually intentional watering-down of long-established policies—such as rehabilitation programs—meant to help inmates reintegrate society.

The point I'm leading to is that now the training of cadets has regressed to the point of the "blind training the ignorant" giving no notice of the liabilities that come with donning the prison officer's uniforms.

To further break this breach of the Mission Statement of the TDCJ Agency's Conventionalized System of Rules & Policies: these ignorant trainees [OJTs] are being shown hands-on training on this red-brick prison by a newly graduated CO 3, blind to most of the safety necessities. As an example: concerning the door-rolls; these blind CO 3s are showing the ignorant OJTs that it is permissible to stand at the picket—110 FEET from the furthest cell door—and bellow down the run to "stand clear" in notice that the doors are opening. A majority of these OJTs' voices cannot carry the required 110 feet to the last cell door to give adequately safe notification leaving many of the cell occupants ignorant of the imminent hazard. The doors are, more times than not, slammed open against their stops. I n m a t e B e w a r e!!! The same process in performed when it is time to close (slam) the doors.

Contrast this to the tacitly understood Unit Policy of the Floor boss walking the run and giving civil notifications akin to "Prepare for door-rolling" as (s)he scrutinizes each door's safety; once at the end of the run, this CO is to call back to the Picket Officer to open the doors; this Picket Officer then "parrots" this order; hence, all Inmates are duly notified and safety is honored.

I have made issue of this deliberately indifferent disregard and watering-down of the Conventionalized System of Rules & Policies because the tip of my left thumb was **ripped off**, along with the nail, because no notice was duly issued and the doors were closed silently... until the inveterate SLAM!!! I had to wait for the door to re-open to retrieve the 1/2 inch of my thumb-tip.

Obviously, I am not impressed with this trend toward the disregard of Inmate safety. I must repeat here, that which I continue to proclaim to those around me, "We MUST start pulling together and submit grievances en masse on issues akin to this one in order for the Agency to take notice and correct these back-sliding measures and tactics implemented at the unit level which are ever so slowly but surely watering down the duties and attachability of liabilities required in keeping COs within compliance with the Conventionalized System of Rules and Policies.

Ever since the Feds relinquished control over the TDCJ Agency to Texas Gov't, Texas has slowly removed every safety program bit-by-bit while touting how well they are doing in keeping prisoners in prison—huh!—protecting the state's population from the dangerous elements which they have trapped in an environment that is not-to-be-published to the citizenry of Texas. Why this? Because, with all of the successful rehabilitation programs removed, the primary thing TDCJ is producing is hate-filled animals who will negatively express themselves once confronted with the free world. This is in direct contradiction with the Mission Statement(s) of both the TDCJ Agency and the ID units themselves.

After all, the TDCJ Agency is a traded stock on the U.$. Stock Exchange in New York. Just think of what the stock holders will do if/when an "Agency-wide Sit-Down" happens? How quickly will Slave/Inmate demands be met? Texas Inmates hold more power than most of them realize...

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[Abuse] [Ellis Unit] [Texas]
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Living in Third World Conditions at Ellis Unit in Texas

I am writing this in response to several issues we have on the O.B. Ellis Unit. These issues are a daily struggle for offenders. The issues I am raising are: The access to a toilet in common areas, such as dayrooms and chapel, the drinking water that we have access to in our cells, dayrooms, chapel, etc., the new toilets being installed in the two man cells, the illumination of bright lights being left on all day and night, and The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). We as offenders would like the public to be aware of the Cruel & Unusual Punishment we face on a constant basis. All issues can be avoided if TDCJ would address the problems, instead of ignoring them.

First issue is with not having access to toilets in common areas, such as dayrooms and chapel. When in the dayroom they keep the door locked and most of the time we are in there for several hours at a time. We only have access to a urinal in the dayroom and the chapel.

They stage us for chow sometimes an hour or more before we leave for the chow hall. We then get stuck in the chow hall for 30-45 minutes before being released to go back to the wing. Once back on the wing we are put into the dayroom for an hour or more most of the time before any in-or-outs are given to go to our cell. One example was on January 18, 2019, when they staged us for chow at 4:00pm and we didn't go to chow until 5:00pm. We made it back to the wing at 5:45pm and at 6:15pm we were still requesting an in-&-out into our cells (where the only toilets are). My stomach was upset and I had diarrhea and needed to go to the restroom when we came back from chow. When we got back to the wing we were put in the dayroom and at that point I asked CO Slider if she could let me in my cell so I could use the restroom, and she told me she didn't have time. I asked her where I was supposed to go and she said "whatever." When I realized I could not hold it any longer I used the only thing made to the restroom in the dayroom. The urinal.

Sargeant (Sgt.) White and CO Bradford were walking down the hall when they noticed me without a shirt on and approached the dayroom window. This is when they realized what I was doing and came into the wing. Sgt. White ordered CO Bradford to lock me up on F-Wing. As CO Bradford escorted me to F-Wing he told me I should have just used the restroom in my pants instead of the urinal, that it would have been better for me. When I got on F-Wing I was placed into a small cage and stripped-out. I asked CO Siad if I could see medical as I had blood on my toilet paper, but was refused medical treatment. They never even took me by medical after handcuffing me (use of force).

Sgt. White came to F-Wing and asked me for my statement on the case for causing a disturbance by using the restroom in the dayroom. I wrote my Step-1 grievance while on F-Wing and got a move slip stating I was moved because of being locked-up. My property was packed and brought to me, which I was missing 1 black bag of coffee and my medical issued lotion. When I received my step-1 back the Warden stated that Officer Slider denies any wrong doing and there was no disciplinary actions taken. The proof of disciplinary action was being locked-up and my property being packed-up. They discarded the case, so I did not receive the case.

I was extremely humiliated by other offenders and the officers on F-Wing. This has caused me to have suicidal thoughts and anxiety attacks. When I received my Step-2 back they still claim "There was insufficient evidence to support your allegations of misconduct by the staff named in your complaint." But then state that "Staff conduct will continued to be monitored to ensure professionalism and policy compliance." Neither investigator for my Step-1 nor my Step-2 ever came to the wing and asked anybody (offenders) what happened during the incident.

The second issue is with the drinking water we have access to in our cells, dayroom, chapel, etc. The O.B. Ellis Unit was built in 1961 and still has lead pipes underground that cannot be seen. Maintenance went through and changed the pipes in the pipe chases to a type of PVC, but not the pipes buried underground. Our sinks have galvanized pipe and fittings used and also have outside faucets installed. Galvanized has been banned in the United States for drinking water and the outside faucets are not FDA approved for drinking water. This is unhealthy and unlawful.

The water coming out of the sinks smells bad and tastes bad, and sometimes it comes out brown. This is the water we are supposed to drink and prepare any food we purchase off commissary with. Not everyone can afford to purchase bottled water from commissary for drinking, nor should we have to in order to be able to have safe drinking water. When the water gets real bad they put up notices to boil the water before drinking. We do not have a way to boil the water before we use it to drink or cook food as our hot pots do not get that hot. They issue bottled water to officers when this happens but not offenders.

The igloos in the dayroom are used for ice water, but they never clean them out. They just empty them in the morning and refill them with ice and water. The tests they say maintenance does on the water is said to pass or exceed the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ), but I do not believe they do. These tests should be done by an outside agency and tested at the source where we get our water.

Jackson v. Arizona, 855 F.2d pt 641(4) 9th Cir. 1959; states polluted water is an Eighth Amendment claim. This is a violation of our Eighth Amendment "The consumption of Hazardous Water." As I stated earlier I have been having diarrhea since being on this unit and would like to know if it is because of the water.

Another part of the issue is that we do not have hot water available in common areas. This is unsanitary as we cannot clean our cells, dishes, clothes sold on commissary, etc., with hot water. There is hot water in the first cell on each row of cells which shows it would not take much to add hot water to every cell. We do not have access to the mop cell (closet) as we are either locked in our cell or in the dayroom. The dorms have hot water at their sinks, so we should have access to hot water in our sinks in our cells.

The third issue is the installation of the new Icon Water Control System on the toilets. I was told that TDCJ received a grant for Ellis and the Estelle Units to save water. The Icon system is being installed as a trial project on both units. They also told me that Lori Davis was not aware of the fact that there is a lock-out feature on them. These new toilets only flush every 5 minutes and if you flush more than once then you get locked out for an hour. They are being installed into two-man cells instead of just single cells. This will be an issue when you have both offenders in the cell needing to use the restroom right after each other. Also, if you get diarrhea or vomiting because you are sick. Davis v. Scott, 157 F.3d 10003, 1006 (5th Cir. 1998). Human feces carries a certain odor plus toxic gases. This falls under Cruel & Unusual Punishment having to deal with other human feces.

The fourth issue is the illumination of the bright lights at night. They do not dim or turn off the lights at night. Some wings have dimmers but not all wings. This is unconstitutional because it does not allow an offender to receive enough sleep. Lemaire v. Mass., 745 F.Supp. at 636 (5) 1990; Keenan v. Hall, 83 F.3d 1083, which states; There is no legitimate penological justification for requiring (offenders) to suffer physical or psychological harm by living in constant illumination.

The fifth issue deals with the PREA standard throughout the unit. First of all the offenders working in an Industry have to get strip-searched twice for lunch chow and twice at the end of the day. We get strip-searched before leaving the building we work in, and then again at the turn-out gate before entering the unit, by the same TCI employees. I was told this falls under two different policies which is okay, except that they do not make the policy for the turn-out gate for all offenders.

On 04/04/19, a Thursday afternoon, Senior Warden Kelly Strong, was outside the perimeter fence watching us get strip-searched with her binoculars. After several offenders had to contact their family that weekend, Monday afternoon they started painting windows black and put up plastic on the fence. There is still a problem as they only painted a few windows and most people stand taller than the painted windows. The guard tower by the back gate can see over the plastic and the log for that tower will show that most of the time its women in the tower.

TDCJ states "Zero-Tolerance" to the PREA standards, which states that opposing gender shall not be able to see your genitals or breasts. Most offenders live in cells and the toilets face the front of the cell. We are not (by policy) allowed to hang anything up to impede the officers to view into the cell. This allows the women to be able to see us using the restroom or changing clothes. The newer units are built out of concrete with solid doors which have two small windows for the officer to be able to see in there. These are also maximum security units, so they could update the cells and install something on the front of the bars.

Now that I was able to bring these issues up about the O.B. Ellis Unit, we hope that people will see the changes that need to be done. We would like to get the help of the public on fixing the issues. Living in the Texas Prison System is similar to a Third World country. The people of the United States of America are supposed to set the standard on how people are treated. This is why we send out humanitarian aid and go to war with countries that have leaders that mistreat their people. We have all done something wrong to end up here, but we still have a right to be treated like human beings. We need the help of people to fight for our constitutional rights while incarcerated as we are limited in what we can do. Most offenders I have met are trying to change who they are and working to be a better man, father, citizen. I want to thank you for taking the time to read this letter and your consideration in helping us. If I can provide additional information, please let me know.

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[Abuse] [Ellis Unit] [Texas]
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Contaminated water, tiny cells, dangerous conditions at Ellis Unit

The unit/prison that I find myself assigned to now is what is referred to as a "Red Brick Unit." Built in the 1960s at the latest where the cells are a mere 5'x9' with two occupants, giving a paltry 22.5 square feet of living space for these two prisoners to share. Unacceptable dehumanizing conditions. I have found that the feds have ordered such dual housing to be stopped: yet the TDCJ agency continues and is (reported to be) paying fines [to the feds, as restitution] to be allowed to continue this violative, inter alia, 8th amend. treatment of prisoners. One would not house two 150 pound dogs in such diminutive conditions.

Not to ignore the fact that we prisoners are not the only ones suffering from the de-humanizing conditions disdainfully provided for all, on and in these TDCJ agency's units. The COs too suffer the lack of civilized conditions, which should shock the conscience of the citizenry. For instance, cooler temperatures afforded the administration, medical, education, and on Ellis One, a special wing for youths, which too is air conditioned (an issue for another day). Not to mention that the sewage systems back up, belching feces laden water up from the toilets, saturating the cells, and especially first floor walkways, too include the main hallways: with "one inch" deep bacteriological contamination residues just left in the cells to fester for two months before inadequate packets of "bipi" is distributed for clean up of the cells. While all the walkways are cleaned with bleach. Endangering the health of all.

All-in-all these prisons are so deteriorated as to sustain these noxious environs poisoning all who live and frequent them without conditioned (filtered) air and water. At times the water is orange with contaminates. Whereas the water supplied by the local municipalities by way of deteriorated pressure lines, are both so befouled and degenerated, respectively, with black flake particles of unknown origin and chemical composition. Prisoners without means have no options but to ingest this pollution, not apprised of what kinds of future chronic affliction, malady, infirmity, or complication, such oppressive exposure overtime will plague us all with. In juxtaposition, those on these units who are not prisoners can and are provided bottled and/or filtered water for their safe usage.

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[Abuse] [Ellis Unit] [Texas]
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Bad Water and Cussing Guards

Our water is bad. I'm writing you for help with a problem we have here on the Ellis Unit. I've written the Justice Department and they wrote baack, saying that that forward my complaint to EPA (environmental protection agency). Now those people haven't told me anything. How do i further my complaint? Also we have a problem with officers cussing out the inmates. Grievances don't work on this unit all grievances are answered the same way, the officers lie they way out of every situation. Please let me hear some feedback from you that can help me. These conditions are nearly impossible to live with and need addressing now!

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[Abuse] [Ellis Unit] [Texas]
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Follow up to “Inspired to Act” in ULK 58

I’m now writing from segregation. They have really gone off the rails now. The L/L staff now disallow nonverbal communication as well as verbal communications. I found this out by allowing the prisoner seated next to me in the L/L to read my memorandum. He didn’t make it to page 2 before a staff member (same one who stole my legal documents out of my cell) came up and SNATCHED my memo out of his hands.

Knowing that this act was, once again, generated by the A.T.C. supervisor/law librarian I got up and asked her “under what rule do you have my legal document taken?” I was expelled from the L/L when, in response to her telling me to sit down, I asked the question a second time. According to the A.T.C. 040 and VIII we are allowed to pass legal material during a session in the L/L.

I packed my stuff up and signed out. Then I asked for my legal document—which, by the way, is exhibit “B” in my active TORT action where these two state employees are named defendants. She stared at the ceiling (15 feet from me) and ignored me. I stated “I want my damn document” and palmed the counter twice to get her attention. What I did was wake up the Medusa within her. I found out 3 hours later that in doing what I did I:

1) threatened to inflict harm on an officer (?)
2) disobeyed a direct order (?)
3) used vulgar language or gesture (??) (Damn)
4) Then the “troll” staff member fabricated that I said to her, “Woo, if we were in the free world” which too is sensationalized into “threatening to inflict harm on an officer”…HA! (Those words never passed my lips).

At the same time I was in neither within 15 feet of the “threatened” officer.

My ultimate disgrace is that no inmate interviewed gave a useful accounting or admitted that I did not say what the “troll” staff member claims I said. My brothers in incarceration left me high and dry giving zero support. Shame shame on every one of them. Institutionalized scared pussies. They just don’t realize that these folks only do to us that which we allow. We make these units TDCJ run.

What these defendants have done have elevated my state TORT action to a state 1983 civil rights violation suit. Due to their conspiratorial relative acts. I will prevail!!

In getting put into lock up these F…olks have…oops…misplaced 12 of my law books and my dictionary.

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[Abuse] [Ellis Unit] [Texas]
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Weight loss and false contraband cases in Texas

I work at the farm shop at Ellis Unit. I am indigent here and this trusty camp refuses to feed any more than it has to. I have lost 54 pounds in just a few short months. Everyone here refuses to stick as one. I even received a case for socks that a church gave me on Xmas. "Free world contraband." Wow!

I work 7 days a week 7 to 4. The drama from other fellow prisoners is like a nightmare. I tried to transfer to a different camp because of all the drama. It's calmed down some in the last two months but still the officers treat us bad.

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[Legal] [Ellis Unit] [Texas]
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Law Library Problems at Ellis Unit

I am writing to add on to the article that you ran in the January/February 2015 edition of Under Lock & Key, titled "Texas Hides Grievance Manual." Frank Hoke also has it that once you sign in to the law library, we are not allowed to leave and go to the bathroom the entire session. If we do go, we have to put everything up, leave our legal material in the law library, go to the restroom, and when we come back we have to sit by the door doing nothing until count clears. We have not been able to find this in any directive and since we cannot find it or it is not listed in the new January 2015 edition of the Offender Orientation Handbook (of which I have the only copy on this unit, since my family printed it off the TDCJ website). We are going to fight it since this policy is denying us our access to the courts. Also in the new orientation handbook, it states that the law library is to be open for one session on Saturdays, and this does not happen. I am going to work on that since it denies us access to the courts.

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