www.prisoncensorship.info is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.
I have recently come across your publication and would like to request the Texas Pack. I was told that the Texas Pack would greatly assist me in writing an effective grievance.
We have some issues that need to be addressed. We are dealing with unsanitary conditions, lack of maintenance, and as of 1 March 2020 we will no longer be able to receive greeting cards from our friends and families, further restricting our correspondence with the outside.
I would like to thank you in advance for your time and consideration with this request.
We just got word that the Texas Department of Criminal inJustice (TDCJ) has denied delivery of the TDCJ Offender Grievance Manual to one of our subscribers in Texas. Not just at the unit level (we were not informed of the censorship at the unit level by Polunsky Unit mailroom staff, in direct contradiction to TDCJ's own policies)(1), but the Director's Review Committee even upheld the censorship of the grievance manual. The Director.
Well, what could possibly be the reason given for censoring TDCJ's own manual which was written for "offenders"? Couldn't tell you. All the notice says is it was "received in contradiction with BP-03.91, Uniform Offender Correspondence Rules." Don't forget, BP-03.91 doesn't just say that this item is denied delivery to this particular subscriber. It says that this item is banned in the entire state for all time. Just like [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, our "Defend the Legacy of the Black Panther Party" study pack, and multiple issues of Under Lock & Key (at least including Nos. 63, 57, 54, 51, 45, 35, 32, 28, and 27).
You might be wondering why MIM Distributors is sending in the grievance manual anyways. It's a TDCJ document, after all. And according to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, the grievance manual ought to be available to prisoners.(2) Well, in September 2014, a memo went out that removed the grievance manual from all TDCJ law libraries.(2) Why would they do this? Don't know, they didn't say. TDCJ's grievance system is notoriously ineffective and deliberately obstructive. And Texas is historically one of the worst states when it comes to brutal national oppression. Seems to be part of those overall patterns.
We did have a "victory," so minor that it's even embarrassing to use that word. The Director's Review Committee Decision Form actually listed the name of the item that they censored! Wow! We didn't have to go hunting around in the list of mail we sent to this subscriber, guessing which item was censored based on the date we mailed it out. This is often a very difficult detail to pin down, considering how much mail we send in and the weeks- and months-long delays in the TDCJ censorship procedures.
So, we've been protesting the ineffective grievance process in Texas for almost ten years. The grievance manual was hidden almost 5 years ago. And now we can't even mail in the grievance manual. We do plan to appeal this censorship to the Director's Review Committee, but often our letters to them go unanswered. In the short term, we need people (and lawyers!) in Texas to put pressure on TDCJ to stop obstructing prisoners' access to the grievance system. Ultimately we need to overthrow this totally bunk injustice system and the economic system it protects.
Recently, two friends of mine were locked-up behind a faulty locking mechanism. For 3 months these guys made reports to maintenance about the cell door constantly reading "un-locked" when in fact it was locked. On one night, after rack-up, their door was opened by the duty officer. She claims there was paper stuffed in the door. She wrote up a case and these guys were found guilty. And now that they are gone, that cell door still has problems. There never was any paper and the right to due process was violated due to the fact that none of the defendants' evidence was allowed in court. These guys had one Sgt. and two C.O.s who were willing to testify on their behalf. None of it was allowed.
I read in your publication about another brother here on the Polunsky Prison Slave Farm has issues with grievances too. I have records dating from 2009 on this farm where I am trying to get grievances processed, answered, or returned. A grievance filed here enters a black hole; never to be seen again. I have known and used the P.D.22 codes for years. I also know how to write an effective grievance. I do also share my knowledge with others. The grievance office here believes in their little gang slogan "Taking care of one another." I have recently gone to the effort of writing the Huntsville Central Grievance Office about these issues: missing grievances; falsified answered grievances, and un-returned grievances.
I will file a grievance and when I follow up with an I-60 for response, the grievance officer will state they have no record of any grievance on file. Huntsville replied in a form letter that "grievance records do not indicate receipt of referenced grievance." This X was blotted out and the box for requesting info from the unit investigation was marked. The unit investigator responded they had only a few recorded grievance numbers and none of those listed were the ones I was requesting. Now I can apply for copies through the law library of existing acknowledged grievance at 10¢ per copy. I-60s sent to the law library go unanswered as well. The grievance system on this unit is corrupt and a farce. I intend to file the petition supplied.
I got your pamphlet from the man who killed himself. I was his neighbor. When it happened he cried for help. In they walk by him like he was not there. For 2 days he cried tears. He cried saying help me! Help me! Sorry I had to get that off my chest.
My wife had to get a lawyer to deal with all the BS that's been going on. I have a 6 year sentence. I'm not from TX. I'm from LA. My court appointed lawyer tricked me in to signing for time. He told me that I was signing for him to represent me. I had told him that I couldn't see without my glasses. Then he said that. So I appealed it. They gave me a court appointed lawyer.
I been messed around by the TX system. They play by their own rules. But I like what you are saying.
I would like to request a grievance petition for Texas. My experience with the grievance process, for the past 22 ½ years, is getting worse & more fraudulent in nature with systemic cover-ups of correction officer's wrong doings. Especially when it comes to offenders personal property issues for theft claims. This units Polunsky Unit, which houses Death Row, is notorious for confiscating, destroy or stealing offenders property without just-cause or going through the proper administrative procedures.
The Grievance Coordinators: Linda S. Martin, Investigator III & Ashley L. Crawford, Investigator II routinely destroy filed grievances. Every grievance I've filed in the last 22 1/2 years, never have I been interviewed by a grievance investigator. Therefore concluding that no matter the allegation presented by an offender, their co-workers, the correctional officer, wrong doing will always go "unfounded".
While incarcerated here at the Polunsky Unit, G4's Level Offenders are repetitively being harassed, in the form of stop & frisk which generally lead to being restrained and to PHD (lock-up) on bogus and trumped up disciplinary infraction. Almost all these events happen while proceeding to the chow hall for breakfast 0400 hour. Whereas 95 percent of prisoners are Black offenders being harassed for no apparent reason beside wanting to eat.
Also, Prison Officials have created a hostile environment and continue to endanger prisoners lives through their constant threats & abuse of power to lockdown mass of inmates behind one prisoner who violated a single infraction. These forms of social control have lead to prisoners policing prisoners and threatening each other with physical violence if prisoner cause unit to go on lockdown.
The grievance system here does not work for the prisoner. When filing such grievance that can stand on its own merit, it is hardly ever we will receive an answer, or for that matter it being acknowledged. It is common practice for the Grievance Investigator to throw-away grievances and deliberately disregard the rules regulations and the safety of prisoners.
Therefore, I have taken the matter up with my family and asked them and offenders to have their family to contact TDCJ OMBUDSMAN about grievances being thrown away.
It is the responsibility of the OFFENDER GRIEVANCE PROGRAM, ATTORNEY GENERAL AND REGIONAL DIRECTOR about the conspiratorial practice to violate inmate's First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment Rights to file grievance and your administrative exhausted. This report of prisoners grievance only precede me a standardized response that amounted to nothing. The prisoners are not so much afraid to file lawsuits, but they know that the deck is stacked against them so why waste $400 filing fee. Goes to say, "if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."
We are now able to wear beards for religious reasons, but here on the Polunsky plantation, higher ranking officials have threatened to take job assignments from certain offenders (i.e. those working in 1 bldg around administrative staff/personnel and those working in the kitchen). I've also heard of them taking offenders out of the draft shop if they grew a beard.
Their tactics have worked because many prisoners have cut their beards due to these threats. I've remained solid on my beliefs and what I stand on...to hell with their threats because if a man won't stand for something he'll fall for anything. Besides this, business is as usual around here, being oppressed with only a few prisoners fighting against this oppression.
We here on Polunsky Unit are receiving the ULK and copies of the grievance petition. We are engaged in the fight on a very small scale. Hundreds of petitions have been sent to the central grievance office, Administrative Review and Risk Management Division (ARRM), Executive Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), and recently TDCJ Board Chairman Oliver Bell, but to no avail. Grievances are not submitted and grievance investigators claim to not have received them. Those that do get processed/submitted are not properly investigated and receive the standard response of "insufficient evidence to substantiate your allegation."
The KKKlantation Warden Gary Hunter is in collusion with grievance staff to trash/destroy any grievance/appeal that may get action if we proceed to the Step 2 level, that is if the Step 2 does not land in the hands of Regional Director Richard Alford who has been Assistant Warden and Head Warden on this KKKlantation within the 12 years that I've been here.
There is another struggle against Helen Sheffield (Sgt. of Safe Prison/Extortion). She confiscates personal property of offenders accused of extortion, running gambling businesses, stores, inappropriate relationships with female guards, etc., and destroys property if the offender refuses to snitch for her. This is all done under the watchful eye of Senior Warden Hunter and Assistant Warden Kenneth Hutto.
If any comrades in Texas can assist us in our fight against Sgt. Sheffield and her theft and unlawful destruction of offender property, please feel free to engage in this struggle.
To all comrades of USW in Texas, we must come up with a new direction to take this grievance campaign (new addresses, etc.) to send grievance petitions to because all the former names/addresses have failed us. My suggestion is the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) or ACLU Texas. We comrades on the Polunsky KKKlantation have chosen to forward our petitions to the DOJ.