Prisoners Report on Conditions in

McConnell 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.

[Abuse] [Legal] [McConnell Unit] [Texas]
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McConnell Abuse and Lawsuits Update

There's quite a bit going on here at the McConnell Unit. A lot of retaliation going on against prisoners.

Supposedly there's a lawsuit pending against TDCJ that will be ruled on by March 2018. Regards to sleep deprivation. And because of that a lot of retaliation has been going on against us prisoners. Like for example, we get woken up at the middle of the night (between 12am and 2am) for roster bed book count time, which some guards (officers) will go way over board by forcing every prisoner to get out of bed to show, present his ID and face. And or they will turn on all of the lights to the whole Pod and leave them on until counts cleared. Some days they'll do that throughout the whole day. No such policy exists that says that the lights are to stay on until count clears. Or the officers will come and wake up whoever's cubicle number is on the list to be searched at around 1am to do the search. When policy specifically says that searches should be done by rack up time. Which on most days it's by 10:30pm Sgt. Ukandu was asked about it and I can't believe the response that he gave. He said, that because they are always short of staff it is why that they can't really follow policies. In other words it's okay for them to violate policies because they are short staffed. What do y'all think?

Lately I've been having a lot of problems with a guard that's been stalking, intimidating, retaliating, and harassing me. I've just filed my 6th or 9th grievance against her. Last year it got so bad that I filed a complaint against her with the Office of the Inspector General, and she was kept away from this building for almost a year. But now that she's being assigned over here against she's at it again. Now this time I've gotten my family involved. I had one of my brothers call Internal Affairs, O.I.G., and Ombudsman. See what happens?

Also I've been retaliated by the mailroom staff. For example, before I bought the book Murdered Innocents, I wrote the mailroom supervisor and asked her if the book was allowed to come in. She answered me back and told me yes, it was approved to come in. But now that I bought the book she's telling me that I can't have the book because it's denied. But the good thing is that I saved the I-60 form where she told that it was approved. So I've already filed my Step 1 grievance with that evidence. The thing is that the mailroom supervisor (Ms. Salles) denies the publications on the basis that they are personally offensive to her and not per TDCJ policy.

If you have any information that might be of help to me in regards to these issues, I appreciate very much if you could send it to me. Thank you!

I've heard a lot of prisoners say that they have filed sworn complaints with county District Attorney against TDCJ officers but never get a response back from the DA.

On this month of December there were some auditors here at the unit. I think that they were here for about two or three weeks. They were running chow real smooth. And one day one of the sgts was running chow and somebody asked him a question (I didn't hear exactly what they asked him) and Sgt. Said "Well, we have to show these people that yes, we do serve chow (hot meal) every meal." What does that tell you?

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[Abuse] [McConnell Unit] [Texas]
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Disputes and Grievances Ignored in Texas

I am writing you at this time to submit my first article and to request books for myself that I will also share with others. I'm sure the Texas prison system is different then other states prison systems, one being a credit dispute resolution, where prisoners (offenders as we are now called) can dispute their begin sentence date, time earning class, and custody. But then the reply is "we can not change this without a court order." I challenged my begin date that was calculated by TDCJ who is cheating me out of four months. If the error is on their part why would I have to go back to court to force them to calculate my time properly? If they aren't going to help then why even have this department?

The disciplinary department is also similar where cases are judged based on "officers statement," because the officer states you committed an infraction, you are guilty. Even if you have evidence to the contrary. No actual evidence is investigated. Then prisoners must file a grievance which is also not properly investigated and the reply is usually a non-answer that has nothing to do with the problem. To receive proper + fair procedures, both disciplinary infractions and grievances should be handled by impartial persons outside the TOCJ system where these people are not related to, or friends of the very officers who are writing these cases or being investigated on grievances.

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[Abuse] [Medical Care] [McConnell Unit] [Texas]
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Promotions for abusive guards; medical neglect for prisoners

Sorry that I haven't written in a while. But I've been sick with a severe bout of sciatic nerve pain. Talking about pain, it's very very painful!

Well, I'm writing y'all this letter to let y'all know what's been happening here at the McConnell Unit.

First of all, to get the proper treatment for this sciatic nerve pain it took, of course, the involvement of my family. Because even though I had been to the hospital and I'd been prescribed some medications by a medical doctor, a P.A. was refusing to give me or prescribe me the medications. Why? Because she felt that I didn't need them. And this is because I could barely walk. Even with the crutches I had a lot of trouble walking. But once my family started to call things started to change.

It's so sad that in order to get treated properly we prisoners have to bother family members to call the unit and demand that we're given the required medical attention. Taxes that they pay so that we inmates do get that required medical attention when it comes that we need it. They sure are very quick in collecting the $100.00 co-payment when it comes to collecting it, but when it comes to treating the inmates we all go through hell getting the proper medical attention. It is how the injustice system works all around the United $tates.

Another thing is that about 2 or 3 months ago I filed a grievance and a Citizen's Complaint (through a family member) against a Lt. (Guevarra) for cussing at me. He went as far as to tell me that for me to remember I'm just a fucking number and nothing more. You won't believe what happened? What his punishment was? He was promoted from Lt. to Capt!

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[Organizing] [McConnell Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 60]
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Using Texas Pack to Help Others

24 OCTOBER 2016 — I have received y'all's latest newsletter. I love reading the ULK newsletters. Always very informational. Which has helped me a lot!

Here at the McConnell Unit in Belville, Texas, it is very, very, hard to get prisoners involved in such issues as 1) Campaign to resist restrictions on indigent correspondence; 2) Petition the Federal Trade Commission: TDCJ's monopoly on stationary; 3) We demand our grievances are addressed in Texas, etc, etc.

I've shared the Texas Pack with several prisoners and some just say that they are not interested. As long as they let prisoners here watch TV, go to the commissary, use the phone, play dominoes, chess, and scrabble, people don't care. It's all they care about, which in reality is very sad. Because these are issues that affect us all as a whole group. And in some cases violate our civil and constitutional rights.

The Texas Pack has given me very helpful information for not only my own benefit but to help other prisoners who ask for help, and especially those that are monolingual and don't know how to file a grievance, etc. The information that y'all supply me has not only helped me but for me to help others, which I do almost on a daily basis. Thank y'all very much!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This author is using the Texas Pack exactly as it's intended — not to be hoarded as a persynal reference, but to be shared with others so we can all benefit. Ey also brings up an all-too-frequent complaint about prisoners in Texas: that they are checked out and unwilling to stand up for their rights or the rights of others. What is the difference between this writer, and the people ey is saying only care about board games and TV? Obviously there are activists in TDCJ facilities. How are they made?

Even people who seem to only care about board games and TV, we know they're not just lazy or don't care. It is likely a defense mechanism they've developed over time. If i only care about TV, i can have some happiness even though i'm in prison. If i only care about TV, i can for the most part avoid attention from prison staff. If i only care about TV, i can access something i want; i can escape from my reality for a short time; etc.

It's unlikely, though, that these folks only care about TV, even though that's what they're projecting. Presenting the grievance petition to them, while it's a righteous campaign, often just makes people defensive. They're defensive because they need to protect this narrative that they've created about their "values," often times in order to just get through the day, and cope with their harsh reality.

Certainly with some people we can present a valid campaign, they'll recognize it as a valid campaign, and they'll come on board. But people who are defensive or prone to stagnation need a different approach.

A good place to start in trying to organize these folks is to figure out what they do care about, besides TV. They may not want to talk about it, it may be sad and upsetting to care about things you can't have (such as affection with your children while you're in prison, for example). But we can still try to help them figure it out. Help them develop their identity around their own value system, rather than the value system put upon them by bourgeois society and imprisonment.

How do they want to be seen by the world, their family, their peers? What do they want to stand for? What have they done in the past that they felt good about, that represents how they see themselves? When we know answers to these questions, we can help show how their values actually relate to the campaigns outlined in the Texas Pack and the pages of ULK.

Issue 63 of ULK is going to be focused on this topic of tactical organizing approaches, and the nitty gritty of building the United Front for Peace in Prisons. We want our subscribers to send in methodology and tools which have helped them in their organizing efforts. Even if it doesn't have a formal name, can you spell out your approach for dealing with ambivalence, or ignorance, or even a disorganized study group meeting? We want to hear about it and share it with others!

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[Abuse] [McConnell Unit] [Texas]
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Contaminated water and other dangerous conditions at McConnell

Here, on the McConnell unit there are so many issues that we are dealing with and attempting to gain a collective response to that it has taken up the majority of our time. First, on Thursday August 4, 2017, there was a water contamination notice posted, which consisted of not consuming the water, at all (i.e. showers, drinking, washing face, brushing teeth etc.) until further notice. The boil notice stated that the only way the water could be consumed was if it was boiled (i.e. a rolling boil) for at least two minutes. However, the problem with this stipulation is the fact that the ONLY way we can boil water is if we 'rig' our hot pots, which is a violation of TDCJ policy. This makes us vulnerable to our appliances being confiscated even though we have been given permission to boil the water.

This also brings about the fact that if we don't boil the water before we drink it, shower in it, and brush our teeth with it, then we are being made susceptible to CRYTOS, which is a parasitic germ that is known to cause cancer and other organ failures. This has been advertised on every news station around this area, yet we are still being made to drink it or dehydrate!! We are supposed to be provided with ice-water three times a day during summer months, yet because of the water shortage we are often just given tap water.

The administration is so accustomed to doing whatever they want that our complaints go in one ear and out the other. We have waged a grievance petition attacking our overall conditions here on this unit and we will see how many are willing to stand up for their rights or lay down and be trampled over.

This is only one of several issues with the conditions here on the McConnell unit... There is mold that has set in the walls and has begun to make prisoners have breathing conditions such as dry coughs and lack of breath.

When it rains here, all of the cells are flooded with rainwater. Our bunks are soaked and the floors are covered with water.

I would like to learn and be a part of the United Struggle from Within, because I believe that many of the prisoners here have the propensity to make a difference if only they were shown the way. Most think that there is no hope in doing anything when 'they are going to still just do what they want'. But I KNOW better and am familiar with the results of a unified effort!! I am committed to working with MIM (Prisons) to expand our influence and organizing in here as well as out in the communities we will one day return to.

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[Abuse] [Legal] [McConnell Unit] [Texas]
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Fighting false cases and theft of legal material in Texas

I thank you for all the help that I have received in the past & will continue to help out as much as I am able to in the future. Hopefully when all is said & done with my litigation I will be able to send another donation to you. My main issues are dealing with: (1) not being allowed to grow my beard for religious reasons of my faith; (2) for the Administration causing me to lose all my property in the world at the passing of my mother due to their retaliation over me grievancing them on the denial of my beard; & (3) of them taking all my Uniform Commercial Code legal books, notes, letters, etc. that I had accumulated over the past 15 years of study & research. They took my Federal West Law books, & my mother's death certificate to prevent me from using them.

Then they wrote a fraudulent case on me & even stated that I did not do as the write-up stated yet still punished me as if I did do something. They have the nerve to state that T.D.C.J.-I.D. has a "policy that denies the possession of U.C.C. material" which they are not able to produce cause it doesn't exist period. Then they write up a fraudulent charge of me supposedly coming to the law library to present a fraudulent financial statement to be filed, (which by the way is the only felony on the books that they can give you for utilizing the U.C.C. process), when that wasn't taken up by anyone.

The "Law Librarian" who was behind it all wrote a fraudulent disciplinary case against me of committing a felony while in T.D.C.J., which I have never been indicted nor have I ever made an attempt to file anything. She even admitted this at the disciplinary hearing, yet in T.D.C.J. they do what they wish to do no matter of the right or wrong involved, cause no one will take them to court. But they messed up when they made me lose everything that my mother had been keeping for me & by taking my actual legal law books from me that I had purchased. As I try to tell them "there is no way you will make me or a Federal Judge believe that a policy (that doesn't even exist), will supersede FEDERAL LAW." Anyhow I thank you again for all your help & efforts that you have put in for those as myself in here. Continue to keep up the Good Fight for all of us, as I will myself.

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[Abuse] [McConnell Unit] [Texas]
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Dangerous water in Texas

TDCJ has posted a boil water notice on this facility McConnell Unit date of 1 Aug 2017 by a Gary Pendarvis – maintenance supervisory phone 361-362-2300. It said there is harmful bacteria and other microbes in the water. We inmates are told to boil water or buy bottled water. However Texas Department of Criminal Injustice does not boil nor provide a way for inmates to boil water we drink daily a life necessity, an 8th amendment constitutional violation. Nor does TDCJ give prisoners money for free labor jobs to buy water. We get good time parole credits but when you come up they set off!

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[Abuse] [Legal] [McConnell Unit] [Texas]
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Texas refuses to give access to policies

I really do appreciate your help. But I have another favor to ask you. For a long time I have been trying to get a copy of the TDCJ Policy so that I can better understand how to fight every case that be written up against me. Cause these peoples will write peoples up for no reason at all. You can't imagine how corrupted this system is. They don't let us get access to the most important policies that we need to be able to fight for our rights. I am a 12 hour worker in here in this prison a day. And sometimes my supervisor don't feed me telling me they don't have to feed me a hot meal. Just a Johnny Sandwich. Which isn't right at all. So if you can please provide me this policy concerning TDCJ, I will appreciate it very much.

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [McConnell Unit] [Texas]
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Trying to Defend Rights in Texas

As of now, several other prisoners and I are having major problems with our grievances not being processed. The reason given for not processing the grievances is "issue not grievable." One of my grievances was against a Corrections Officer (CO) who refused to issue confiscation papers after taking something from a prisoner. The other one was against another CO who forced me to stay in the day room with my commissary (when it's strictly against policy). In that grievance I cited such policy and it was immediately (the very next day) sent back to me with the excuse "issue not grievable". So, I've send a letter to the Administrative Review & Risk Management (ARRM) Division Administrator. I still haven't heard back from them. Still waiting. But I won't at all be surprised if I don't get an answer. I know very well how these people work. Please send me some grievance petitions.

In your March/April 2016, No.49 news letter you published an article by a South Carolina prisoner, "One More Doctor Replaced". Very interesting article. Because here at the McConnell Unit we have a P.A. Erie Echavarry that would do anything in his power to deny prisoners as much medical care as possible. I've filed grievances and complaints with the Texas Board of Examiner's in Austin, Texas. But to no avail. Things have gotten worse, especially for those of us who file complaints against him. You will never see the end of medical negligence. And the worst thing of all is that you will stay stuck seeing the evil P.A. Echavarry. I was told that I don't have a say in who I get to see.

The Texas Board of Examiners responded that there was insufficient evidence to substantiate my allegations against P.A. Echavarry. I'm not the only one who's filed complaint's with T.B.E in Austin, TX against this P.A., and nothing is being done about it. Is there anybody that you can refer me to that can help me in regards to this matter?

I was at the Connally Unit. I know how bad the food is over there. Here at McConnell is no different. The food is 100% inadequate. While we are served casserole about 98% of the time, which is mainly noodles more than anything else, the officers are fed ribs, fried pork chops, chicken, or chicken fried steak. Some days they eat Mexican food such as chalupas. This is even though the law is that they are to eat what we prisoners eat. With the exception that the chicken be baked or fried, the same with fish, and chicken patty, or burrito etc.

But it's very rare that these officers eat what we prisoners eat. It is a known fact. On my next letter I will try to have documentation to send you to this matter.

I try my best to fight these injustices, even filing "Citizen Complaints" with the Ombudsman. But lately, either the Ombudsman is not taking into consideration the complaints that have been filed with his agency, or here at the McConnell unit they are disregarding them. I helped a friend file one through one of my nieces, Which he hasn't heard anything of yet. It's been already 2 weeks now. Well, i think this will be all for now. Until next time.

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[Release] [Prison Labor] [McConnell Unit] [Texas]
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Can't Parole Because No Disciplinaries

Originally, I wrote you being interested in the study. But I have looked up the meaning of "Maoist" it says communism, and the things I have heard about communism hasn't been in good light. Can you explain to me what a "Maoist" is? Cause you see, I know in fact that dictionaries can be misleading. And further, from what I'm reading of your introduction letter, you are fighting for the right things. Besides, I'm down with fighting against any tyrannical system and political repression.

Texas is truely a state of political repression. They have started by taking tobacco, then porn magz, then stationary, & now action pictures that don't show any sexual parts. The parole system is monopolizing and slavery oriented. You will find that most parolees have had many major disciplinary cases in the last 6 months to a year & still was allowed to parole. But those prisoners who are working, doing what they are suppose to be doing, and staying out of trouble and case free are mostly being denied parole. Parole denials almost always use the same excuse each time, but the most extraordinary is the ones where prisoners are denied due to so called "manipulating" the system because they've remained disciplinary case free for 2-4 years. They say it's impossible for a prisoner to do that because the system is made so that you will get disciplinaries. What!?!

So, I find that I'm interested in being a part of your movement. Especially concerning the "Indigent Supplies & Mailing limitation." They have gone from 5 letters and supplies per week to once a month. Talk about repressions.

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