Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Ferguson Unit - Texas

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.

[COVID-19] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 71]

Mishandling of COVID-19 in Texas Prisons

I am writing to inform you of the Ferguson Unit’s mishandling of COVID-19, which is common throughout the state of Texas. One unit (Pack Unit) has a lawsuit on it already in court as I write this. I’m trying to get in contact with that lawyer to take my case too.

My cellie was the first one to test positive on July 6th. They came and moved him to solitary per policy. While the guards dressed in full PPE waited for him, I stood next to him in only boxers. When I asked, “what about me?” I was ignored. Do you think they moved me? Do you think they tested me? Do you think they even gave me a bar of soap to clean the infected cell with? No, to all. I filed a Step 1 grievance on it and you can guess how it came back.

To make it worse, they moved him into the cell with me after only 12 days of being quarantined. I filed a Step 1 on this – no response yet. I filed a Step 2 on the first part when I got a copy of the rules that they are suppose to be following: CMHC Infection Control Manual B-14.52.

“Offenders that are close contacts of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases should be placed in medical restriction.”

“Thoroughly clean and disinfect all areas where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases spent time.”

“Offenders should be kept in medical isolation until at least 3 days (72 hrs) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath); and at least 14 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.”

You can see for yourself how they broke the rules. They didn’t stop there. They did a mass test of the unit, which is about 2,500 prisoners. Around 380 positives came back. They didn’t know what to do, so they cleared one row out here on B-block and housed some of them there with two and three row not having COVID! The block is already infested with rats and roaches. I mean, I got roaches crawling on me at night – it’s not a clean environment to begin with. I filed a Step 1 on all that too.

I’m not letting this pass. I’ve wrote the media, ACLU, and advocacy groups. The public needs to know how we are mistreated in here! Any help or ideas are welcome.

[Abuse] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas]

Sadistic and Disrespectful Guards at Ferguson Texas

Guards are sadistic & disrespectful to you. They beat you up & write bogus cases on you like threatening staff & staff assault. They do not file paperwork & investigations accurately & truthfully. Food is cold & they serve you half scoops of main/sides & lots of times it's watery. No seasoning or salt/pepper. We are not given clean towels, boxers, socks everyday when we shower. Most cells do no have lights installed! Guards do not like to do their job & don't pass out enough cold water & there is excessive heat. We are not given cleaning supplies for our cells or indigent hygiene items.

[Abuse] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas]

Agribusiness Abuses

I haven't wrote in a few. I wanted you to know I'm still here. So much has went on at this unit. We're strugglin with no one sticking together. I am part of a agribusiness work crew. I have never been so abused in all my life as at Ferguson Unit. Fed so small amounts of food, us that are indigent are doing really bad.

[Abuse] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas]

Grievance Malpractice at Ferguson

I'm sorry but I just now received your other paperwork; my unit had been keeping it with the STG (Security Threat Group). I would like to continue receiving information on this "so-called" prison system that's here not to help us Inmates or Convicts out. I've been reading and it's a shame how our family doesn't know what's going on. See I have it a lil harder because I'm a Freemason in the 3° and I've been traveling for 13 yrs and some of my Brethren that work in TDCJ look down at me and I'm only here for capital murder.

I write grievances every week and out of 123 I've written for myself only 2 came back undenied; and only 3 out of the 200+ I've written for other inmates. This Grievance System is nefarious and the officers' malpractice here is opprobrious; the officers walk around here with no repercussions for their atrocious conduct. The crazy part is that we have security cameras up everywhere (no sound); but even though it's all caught on film, there still is no action taken.

[Abuse] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas]

Punished for Reporting Abuses at Ferguson

I am at a really bad unit named Ferguson Unit at midway Texas, about 20 miles from Huntsville, TX. At this unit I have shown the rules, policies, procedures, practices, of T.D.C.J. with other offenders saying, "Oh well, we have been punished for made up rules, given cases, violating our rights in every way. Grievances do no good even the bosses tell the others who, what, when, on them." Yeah it causes many problems for me. The pigs get away with so much that the oh well offenders (OW) let them talk them up. At an inspection, a group asked if we seen any roaches, rats. We said no. But this one guy said there was. The inspector said "oh that's why they only wanted to show this dorm." The L.T. here stated "oh yeah tomorrow you're on lock down." We are. The food is all mush soups. Types of food portions so small that I see us that do not have commissary, are about sick. One hot dog, one sandwich, food unprepared or clean.

Here is a kicker. I came here to repair equipment because I am an equip mec for 30 years, professional. I seen a lot that this farm shop was selling parts to equip that it was not put on, or put in trash. I wrote the main O.I.G. (Offender Inspector General). It was all turned on being my fault, and to mind my business. Wow, I was talked to really bad still watching them break the laws.

I did everything I could to be sent to a different work camp. We are abused, fed mediocre food. They strip us out multiple times going out to work. Search us multiple times, the bad is other (oh wells) oh drown us. Us that would file grievances, or lawsuits they try to beat us up.

They see I don't back down, I seem to not get it through their heads if the unit don't get stopped from violating their rules, policies, the more they are restricted from little freedoms. They are blind.

I've spoke to many about this with same issue, no one wants to stand in unity. This is the worst unit I have been on.

Here's the problem. The unit has all kids with few older guys. The kids are doing so much stealing from kitchen doing this and that! Going dorm to dorm. Really doing free will. Without realizing if it was not for someone like me they would not have any type of T.V., radio, so much as their house. What am I to do? No talking to them.

We spoke to a SGT Andrew Sey about why we're on lock down and made to get up at 6AM on our day off to clean a dorm that has SSI. "Because if someone tells Huntsville inspectors B.S. on us, you can't write grievances on us because we can lock the dorm down for not being clean." Our Dorm is the cleanest I've seen. This unit that abuses us in ways that they believe we can't do anything about. The kitchen C/O Stubble Field has these same guys feed us so they give 3/4 scoops of portions. Pans are not on a warmer, uncooked, nasty to eat.

The pigs use things like "this is a disciplinary unit". I said what did I do to be put on disciplinary? I've seen nothing about some sidewalk rules in no T.D.C. It's just this unit. How can I get help? I've written every rights group there is with no help or any reply.

I am forced to repair the equipment, threatened by them. They do it in ways that shoulder the policy. How can I fight this unit's every grievance, every I60, they use other offenders against me for doing it.

I'm asking you for help! Any new forms I could use to guide me to file them, I can't seem to word them well. The food, the abuse, at the end of everything I've done nothing works.

We are made to get up at 4AM lights on, say name, number and then at other counts the dorm C/O wakes you up. Then cross count also. These C/Os enforce rules that do not exist. The inmates follow them like dogs, they let them put things in their ear.

Do you in any way have forms for me to copy on my own as in about abuse, food, C/Os, I need help wording how to write it legal, I want to file a suit. Last year during shakedown they burnt us up in the sun naked out of spite for hours.

[Abuse] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas]

Bogus searches and threats at Ferguson Unit

I am a 30 yr equipment mechanic. I was placed at Ellis far shop as a trusty S2. There were rows of equipment to fix. I did so. Even going through all the drama. I was sent to other units equipment to fix. On 7/16/18 I was told I had Ellis equipment under control and I am being sent to Ferguson unit farm shop to repair equipment. After arriving at Ferguson Unit I have been subject to multiple property searches within an hours time. One property search from security threat group STG has taken property that has nothing to do with STG. They dumped it all out without even looking at letters, so on. Then they made threats of off the wall things. I am stunned by the things they say. Not one thing had to do with security. At Trusty camp you walk hand behind back, small portions of food. COs still talk bad and say things that is none of their business. They use excuses like "This is a youngster unit" if you find anything on this unit I could help with I'm here.

[Abuse] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas]

Grievances Ignored, bribes demanded in Texas

I wrote a grievance on the warden of my unit for bribery. I alerted him of my life being threatened and he took that opportunity to coerse a bribe instead of doing his actual job. When I wrote in to inquire what's come of that grievance I was told by my unit's grievance investigator it was sent back and deemed redundant but I never received it back, nor have I received the emergency grievance I wrote due to me having a feeling they would do this. There's grievances that the units saying were lost but I know it was thrown away due to answer in response to the grievance being able to cause trouble.

[Abuse] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas]

Texas Ferguson Prison: Brutality and other Abuse

Here's some conditions I and others go through around here. When asking for a ranking officer, we are denied. Mostly when we ask for grievances on the block, they have none, or lie and say they don't. Inmate brutality, guards using unnecessary force always, putting their hands on us. They don't give us cleaning products to clean the cells or toilets. They make us buy them off commissary. I hardly ever go to the store, so I can't. We hardly ever go to the Rec Yard. I know they are violating our rights and its not right.

They also pass out mail without checking inmate IDs, & other people get our mail. I just got a grievance back from the warden on the subject. He don't even care. I also need anything else you have that will help me in TX prisons.

[Abuse] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas]

Ferguson, a Condemned Unit

I've told every CO or ranking officer about my sink not working. I haven't had any drinking water in almost a month. I've been in this cell without a light for about 3 months. They are lazy and won't do anything unless they have to. This unit should have been closed down years ago. The plumbing sucks everywhere. The medium custody blocks are always dirty with discarded food, trash, bird crap and so on. The environment we live in is completely nasty.

I used to write grievances and found out real quick they don't work at this unit. The COs and ranking officers and wardens come together and tell their stories and everyone believes them. The grievance people believe every word they say and don't do any other investigation. It's not right. People give up writing them cause they get discouraged. I know cause I'm one of them. But I'm sick of them always winning even when they are in the wrong. I would like some help and advice on how to write them up. Please help me?

I also just found out that our property has been in the gym since 2 July and people's property was stolen. That's why we haven't got our property back. The windows on C-block where I live are broken and left there in the frames, putting us at risk of being cut.

[Abuse] [Ferguson Unit] [Texas]

Many Abuses at Ferguson Unit

Below is a description of many problems at Ferguson Unit:

  1. segregation and gang violence
  2. illiteracy
  3. drug addiction
  4. obstruction of grievance process
  5. arbitrary parole denial and obstruction of parole process
  6. pre-release units used to house paroled prisoners long-term
  7. censorship of legal mail
  8. denial of outside recreation
  9. lack of clean or adequate clothing
  10. undersized meals
  11. inadequate law library and court system

The problems in Texas jails are endless. Everybody either has a problem, doesn't care, is scared, gave up, or there's not enough prisoners who care to make a difference. First off, we are still dealing with race issues. Inmates against other inmates. Units are still blacks on one side, Spanish on the other and whites get in where you can, and a lot of them be friends with the Mexican side. If a white or Spanish inmate be on the black side, he is in a black gang. Then gangs are our second problem. Every race color group are against the other race gang. There are about nine different black gangs, about five different Mexican gangs, three white gangs, and so our problems in these two areas are endless. People only listen to their own race or gang.

Another major problem we prisoners are facing that I keep finding out is a lot of us can't read or write that well. Without being able to read or write, they can't file grievances or lawsuits. It is hard to help because a lot of peoples are not going to tell you they have this problem.

Now it is sad to say but we have a lot of prisoners who are dope addicts. All day long they want to get high, walking around here like zombies. They are smoking on what they call "K-2," but this is some homegrown spray chemicals they are putting on what it appear to be sticks and grass. This drug is being called Toon. It is spreading across Texas prisons like crazy. I seen people vomit, sell their body, sell everything they got, steal and fight other inmates when they are high and/or want to be high. Toon is the new craze because you can be high all day long by inhaling two short puffs. People also smoke it because their urine will not come up dirty.

Anyone who writes a grievance knows the warden who answers them is always biased against prisoners. 95% of the Step 1 responses always say the same thing ("insufficient evidence") and the problems do not get addressed. No prisoners are getting questioned if they saw what had happened which was reported in the grievance. The Warden will claim he talked to the officer and the officer said he did not do what he is accused of. The Step 2 responses will always side with whatever the warden said on the Step 1.

Before I forget, a never ending problem we are facing is parole. Parole is the biggest joke in Texas. When I was sentenced to TDCJ the judge said "I sentence you to 60 years TDCJ." Your work time, good time, and school time must add up to your halfway sentence (30 years), just to see parole. Now TDCJ says a whole new thing than what the judge told me and from what the statute states. TDCJ tells me if I want to make parole, I have to do 30 years flat; work time, school time, and good time will be calculated toward your full sentence. In reality I have over half my sentence done on paper and am supposed to be up for parole, but the parole board does not go by the Texas legislature.

I know an inmate who had a 30-year sentence for aggravated robbery. His case is considered a 3G offense due to the fact that a weapon was used, so he will have to do half his sentence just to see parole. In reality, if his work time, good time, and school time equals his halfway mark, he is supposed to see parole. He got 22 years flat time done on his 30-year sentence. He got two associate degrees and was working on a masters degree. The reason he did not make his first parole, when he did 15 years flat was due to "the nature of his offense." Now, you know and I know the nature of your offense does not and cannot change. It is your initial conviction.

TDCJ parole board called the person he robbed 15 years ago and asked, "The person who robbed you is up for parole, how do you feel about that? Do you want to deny his parole? If you do not have a ride, we will come and pick you up and you can speak at his parole hearing." Of course the person he robbed didn't want this brother to be released.

His second chance at parole was denied for the same reason. His third denial was was because the parole board stated, he "manipulated" the system. He was not getting any cases. When you stay out of trouble, they think you are getting over on them, so you must be doing something you're not supposed to be doing. His fourth denial was because he was a "suspected gang member." The parole board plays these types of games with the prisoners in Texas. They will come up with any and all kind of reasons to deny you release. When we do make parole we do at least 90% of our time. We end up serving 8 or 9.5 years flat on a 10-year sentence, or 18, 19, 19.5 years on a 20.

If the public looks on the computer, you can see the people who make parole are not actually at home, but in reality are held at a pre-release unit. On paper they are at their house but they really not. Texas just making more money from prisoners at these pre-release units. I had a homeboy gave all his belongings away because he made parole. He thought he was going home. He went to a pre-release unit for 2 years, and then they took his parole away from him and sent him back to the Ferguson Unit to do the rest of his time. At the pre-release unit, the computer had it that he made parole and went home.

Another problem is the mailrooms are taking it upon themselves to tell you what you can and can't have. They are censoring too much mail. They are denying anything they feel you should not have. They are opening up sealed legal mail and reading it. They are denying legal materials.

We are required outside recreation for 2 hours every day for 5 days a week. Ferguson Unit refuses to run outside recreation. The officers are writing down in the rec log that they run outside rec every day when in reality they are not. We can't get any sun on our skin.

We only have one set of clothes. You have to turn them all in just to get another set. We are required to have two sets. The problem with one set of clothes is, when you turn your only set in, in return they will give you a set of pants that may have holes in it, paint stains on the front or on the back. The shirts will be the same way. Then they want you to go to visit to see your family like this. If you're going to take a picture, you are out of there.

Another problem is how they feed us. We are not getting our daily 2000 calorie intake. The serving spoons are not be the right sizes and they water everything down. They only give you enough food to make it to the next meal.

Another major problem is the law library. They took away all the major books that you can use to help yourself fight your case effectively. They took the Texas constitution away, the CSS: Covous Juris Secundum, Texas Civil Statutes, property code and many more. They do not have a book on how to do a writ. Now how are you suppose to file a writ, when you do not have a sample to go on? They also do not have a motion book, criminal or civil. How do you know what to file or how to go about it? All the books they do have are outdated. They will only go so far back on the computer to let you read a case. When you shepardize a case, they will send you all over to something you did not ask for. They refuse to let you see any bills and acts and will tell you they can't get that for you.

On the unit I'm in, they only run two law library sessions a day. One at 3:45 a.m. and another at 11:45 a.m. Only certain people will be put in at 11:45 a.m. while the majority will be scheduled at 3:45 a.m. Why at 3:45 a.m.? Because they know nobody wants to go at that time, so a lot of people just don't show up. If you look at the law library schedule, it will say it runs sessions for 3:45 a.m., 6:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4:45p.m. but they're just not going by the schedule.

Another major problem is the court system. I remember writing the district clerk in my county asking about my case and/or obtaining legal documents. He wrote me back stating he does not have to respond to prisoners because we are locked up and that if I want to hear from him I will have an attorney speak to him for me. He wrote down a Texas government code that states the same thing. I wrote him back explaining to him that I can't afford an attorney and that I'm fighting my case pro se. He wrote me back and still stated the same thing.

The fun never stops for a Texas inmate.

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