Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Hughes Unit - Federal

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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.

[Censorship] [Campaigns] [Political Repression] [Allred Unit] [Hughes Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 79]
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Illegal Censorship in TX Persists as Resistance Grows

Biden punishes prisoners for not celebrating Juneteenth

MIM Distributors has confirmed at least 135 pieces of our mail that have been censored by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice(TDCJ) in 2022. However, the vast majority of our mail goes unaccounted for, so we know that the actual number is in the many hundreds.

Censorship in Texas is not new. The TDCJ banned our book [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán for many years. More recently it was brought to our attention that that decision had been reversed and a number of comrades were able to receive the book. However, Allred Unit has censored the book 4 times in 2022. The bourgeois state has always repressed political speech that is opposed to its oppression.

Most of the censorship in 2022 has been triggered by and targeted at organizing efforts around the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative. In particular letters with updates on the campaign and plans to boycott the holiday. The most censored letter actually was mostly reports on censorship by the TDCJ itself.

Many comrades reported that the censorship of the infamous June 8th JFI Campaign Update letter was appealed automatically by the TDCJ. We received dozens of letters stating the censorship was upheld by the Director’s Review Committee(DRC) on appeal because the letter was “inciting a disturbance.” Yet all the letter called for was to boycott the holiday and instead spend it advocating for a list of demands including an end to long-term solitary confinement, censorship and unpaid labor. In other words, peacefully advocating for your rights has been made illegal for Texas prisoners. That is why we say prisoners in this country do not enjoy full citizenship rights.

Meanwhile, of the dozens of notifications that we received, none of them specified what the item was that was being censored, or what about the item was objectionable. When we wrote the DRC to point this out we received no response. Similarly, our letter to Allred Unit warden Jimmy Smith regarding blanket censorship went unanswered. This is a violation of caselaw, such as Crofton v. Roe (9th Cir. 1999) 170 F.3d 957, which concluded:

“Unsupported security claims couldn’t justify infringement on First Amendment rights.”

One comrade in Stevenson Unit who had achieved a reversal after appealing a recent censorship reports:

“I received the enclosed notice that the Director’s Review Committee reversed the unit denial of 5 pages that could incite a disturbance mailed to me from MIM. I am now in possession of your MIM Censorship pack, and I can’t seem to find any mention of riotous propaganda, or anything other than helpful caselaw in the struggle to uphold 1st Amendment rights. Systematic denial by the piggy is surely taking place because they don’t like the expression of political and social views that are protected by the 1st Amendment right against arbitrary government invasion. Oh well, life’s hard. Harder if you’re stupid.”

Another comrade who won an appeal was convinced that our letter contained more contents because all ey got was an Unconfirmed Mail Form listing what we had sent em recently. Nope, that’s all that was in the letter that was originally censored for “containing information to incite a disturbance.” The only appeals that have achieved reversals so far have been for Unconfirmed Mail Forms(UMFs), our censorship pack, and a copy of the Bill of Rights. However, these reversals were not applied consistently, in other instances UMFs and our censorship pack was censored after appeal to the DRC.

While most of our censored mail was destroyed, one comrade in Allred had there’s sent back to us. In the letter “An Address to Tx USW, All TeamOne Committees, and Tx inmates”, the TDCJ seems to have highlighted where the letter mentions the “Juneteenth Freedom Initiative.” Specifically it is the sentence that calls for filing complaints and petitions to the DOJ. We mailed out copies of such a petition with ULK 78. This is the type of activity the TDCJ is calling “inciting a disturbance” in order to censor our communications.

While Under Lock & Key 78 seems to have reached many in Texas, we are still seeing an almost complete censorship of mail from MIM Distributors in prisons like Allred Unit and Hughes Unit. We’ve been told there is a whole shelf for mail from MIM Distributors in the Allred mailroom now.

Earlier this year, we reported on egregious censorship of a 12 step rehabilitation program and the TDCJ’s own Grievance Operations Manual.(1)

MIM Distributors and our subscribers within the TDCJ have exhausted all administrative remedies with our appeals, letters and grievances. The TDCJ is not interested in following the law on it’s own accord. Therefore we have begun to step up outside pressure on two fronts.

  1. the legal front by filing a lawsuit
  2. the public opinion front via our postcard campaign

Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support(AIPS) has been reaching out on the streets of Texas and elsewhere to bring this story to the masses and gather signatures on postcards we are sending to the TDCJs DRC to voice opposition to this illegal practice of handling our mail and communications.

One comrade observed:

“Going to the masses with these postcards was very eye opening. Conceptually I knew many of the theories of how different classes of the oppressed nations react to building revolution differently, but to see how that plays out with my own eyes was something else. For example, many of the petty-bourgeois student types were more likely to scoff at or dismiss prisoner organizing out of defeatist attitudes at best (such as how censorship/repression is so big in prisons therefore we shouldn’t try at all) or take up bourgeois ethics and “justice” at worst (believing many prisoners “deserve” to be there). Many of the common labor aristocrat types tended to be more supportive, but also was discouraged in not being able to see the movement in Texas prisons right in front of them – expressed in attitudes of “what do they have to do with us here?” The oppressed nation lumpen (homeless, lumpen organization members, etc.) on the other hand were much more eager to sign the postcards in support of the comrades in Texas despite them being in another state. They knew how repressive the inju$tice system was in either out of personal experience or through their close friends’ personal experiences; and many expressed how even if all of our comrades in Texas was 100% guilty of the most heinous of crimes that the imperialists had no right to judge them expressed through sayings of “cops are the real criminals.”

“Going through these personal experiences with the different types of masses can become pragmatism itself on this comrade’s part, which can become dangerous, so we should remind ourselves of the whole picture of what Chairman Mao said in eir essays”On Practice" and “On Contradiction.”

Yes, mass work like this is how we learn how the masses will respond and engage in different campaigns, but we shouldn’t be too quick to draw broad conclusions based on a little persynal experience. Another comrade reported:

"There’s so many people from all nations who are personally oppressed by the Texa$ Criminal Injustice system, who with the right political education will be prepared to join the movement. There’s no doubt in my mind as a supporter from the outside myself that there will be many more ready to put in the work, in the near, near future. The reception to the Allred censorship campaign has been nearly all positive so far, and many people of the oppressed nations here have told me persynally that they’ve been looking for something just like Under Lock & Key to educate and organize the people.

"Keep on the pressure from the inside, you have millions more to come and push from the outside, we just have to keep our heads on tight, stay determined, and struggle on.

“ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!”

For the voices of the oppressed inside to be heard, we must increase the voices of support on the outside. We call on our readers outside to print out some postcards and fliers, and copies of this article and hit the streets today.

You can view the growing list of confirmed censorship in Texas on our website.

Notes:
1. MIM(Prisons), April 2022, TDCJ Upholds Censorship of their own Grievance Manual, Under Lock & Key 77

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[Grievance Process] [Hughes Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 78]
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Substantive Grievances Work If You Follow Up

I am writing you today in regards to several issues. First, let me begin by thanking you in your support of those of us who fight. I learned of your existence through your “Texas pack”. It is old and outdated, but filled with information that I was grateful to see distributed to the population.

I am currently on the Hughes Unit and my time is filled with Step-1, Step-2, §1983, Withdrawal of guilty pleas, PDR’s, 11.07’s, and 2254’s. I am currently working on 2 Capital “Law of parties” cases, but grievances and withdrawals take up most of my time.

It literally destroys my heart to see so many with no knowledge of the system that enslaves them, abuses them, and ruins their futures. Please, continue to spread that knowledge. Grievances work! But you have to write them correctly, not as in format, but in substance! It is very unlikely you will get satisfaction on a Step-1, these people are cousins, friends, lovers, they will not punish themselves but a Step-2 will get you action. And always write Emergency Grievance: on the very top, and first line, this will negate the denial “screening” process, and you can submit as many as you need. But do not clog the system with “ridiculously frivolous” issues, these are what the authorities point to as examples to pass or uphold restrictive policies.

Yes, file a grievance, no do not lose heart when your Step-1 is denied, Yes issue a Step-2 on every violation, deprivation or abuse. That is how we fight. That gives “Another clear example of the dangerous, culpable, cultural attitude of abusive, negligent, deliberate indifference to not only the lives, rights, health, and safety of the offenders assigned under their care and supervision, but also to the duties and obligations as prescribed by employment by the state and TDCJ.” The cumulative reports are what WE must point to to bring to light the gross violations, and deprivations we suffer to get righteous policies and laws passed and abusive guards and administration fired. Don’t stop. Never stop. They enslave us with paper, only paper will free us. If not, then there’s a lot more of us than them. But that is off the subject. I am signing off.

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[Abuse] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]
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No Commissary and Stompings at Hughes

My problem on Hughes Unit and living in 12 Building Ad-Seg/Restricted Housing Unit is that we are not able to go to commissary (store) until 30 December 2021. We are not able to buy Christmas cards and envelopes and stamps to write our families. They are not serving us the 2100 calorie count each day. Without commissary we’re dead. I’ll fight these cats, do whatever it takes.

This Black Sgt. T. Gladley on 2nd shift suited up and ran in on me. By saying I refused to strip out. And Ran in on me and stomped me all around the head, stating that he was gonna stomp the tumor out my head. And they hide the use of force camera where nothing could be seen. Please help comrades.

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[Hunger Strike] [Campaigns] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]
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Initiated Hunger Strike on Tuesday November 19, 2019

I have exhausted myself mentally and physically, trying to exhaust my remedies by forms of letters, requests, verbally and grievances. All my efforts have failed due to corruption within the system, my unit, and those who don't respond to any forms of correspondence.

On 31 October 2019, we were placed on annual lockdown. On 19 November 2019 shakedown made it to our building and section. The officers came in to [my row] and took [my row and section] to the gym to be searched of their properties and person. They were allowed to be present during the search of their properties.

Once they were returned to [my row] and secured, rank and officers changed procedures and pulled all inmates from their cells to the passive rec yard. This left officers and rank to toss cells and property without the inmates present. All other cells were allowed to return to their houses, leaving me in the rec yard 1 hour longer than others.

Once I was allowed to return to my cell, I realized they went through all my legal documents, taking more of my legal and my used typewriter ribbons I was saving as proof of all my legal work, grievances, I-60s, appeals, court filings, letters to everyone.

I called for rank all day and have been refused this request now for 4 days. I told officers on the floor in detail of the illegal theft by shakedown staff. The shakedown crew gave me no confiscation papers, which is theft and against my 5th and 6th Amendment rights of "due process."

All this occurred after I sent out 3 withdrawal slips to file against the unit in the U.S. District Courts. On 11 August 2019, officers had once again robbed my legal documents, legal mail, grievances, new typewriter, family photos, commissary, etc. Again not allowing inventory papers nor confiscation papers. I have been filing Step 1s and Step 2s, only to be given non-conclusive answers, or not given the grievances back in return, unattaching evidence and claiming nothing was attached, etc. You know what they do to us.

At the same time, the law library is denying/ignoring our requests to access any legal materials. Another incident occurred of theft by officers on 24 July 2018, which was the same. They took some of my legal documents, family photos, medications, etc. Long of the short I have gotten nowhere by following procedures, policies, grievances, etc.

I have no choice but to take this stand to my hunger strike. Every time they rob my legal transcripts, free world documents, grievance copies, family photos, typewriter, etc. this affects my fight for freedom, my constitutional rights, civil rights, etc. My state of mind is being driven to a state of depression. This hunger strike is taking its toll as of day 4. Today I sent a letter to Governor Greg Abbott about my hunger strike and reasons. If I don't make it through this peaceful stand, please make sure others don't give up the fight. Thank you for your continued support.

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[Abuse] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]
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Dirty Games with Grievances in Hughes Unit

I am having problems with the grievance system here at the Alfred Hughes Unit as well as the Law Library. Another problem is that I am (G-5) Closed Custody and confined to my cell 24/7. There really is no difference from Closed Custody & Administrative Segregation here at the Hughes Unit. The only difference is that with Closed Custody you have a cellie to which they then came to call it General Population. But either way you're confined 24/7.

OK so because I'm confined to my cellie I have to write I-60 request forms to the Law Library to be allowed to receive research materials. These laws do what they want by only sending out 10% of my requests. The rest of my I-60s they merely ignore and never send. The grievance department received my grievance but lies by saying it was received late. So I put another Step 1 Grievance to the original. Now they returned that one not even filled out, with no signature, no date received, no date returned, no boxes checked, no next step, or resolution process to follow. I mean nothing, empty.

They are playing dirty games with denial to access to the Law Library and lying about my grievances and what actually happened. The first grievance I had a Sgt. Turner actually take it to the Grievance Department because they didn't even come to our pod to pick up our Step 1s. So I have a witness that it did get taken to them on time. The second Step 1 Grievance I actually had Officer Nash take it from my hand and place it into the Grievance Investigator's hand in front of me, so he is also a witness to the fact.

I don't know if you recall, but I sent you a money order and in return you mailed me 2 packets of materials to help fight my grievances. Thank you by the way. I wrote some bad ass grievances, but now they don't want them to go through. Do you happen to have a grievance I can use for denial of access to the courts/Law Library and how do I write up the Grievance Department when the rules state I can't grieve the Grievance System? I will donate some more money to your organization for some more help and materials that will put a stop to these a$$hole$. This is Illegal but I can't do anything from my confined cell. I only have my pen and paper to protect myself. OK, so I have a typewriter also.

I need your help please. I don't have people in the world besides organizations like yours. Now the building states they are short staffed now for the next 1 1/2 months and won't be allowing recreation, few showers, etc. For the last 2 weeks the entire building states they are out of I-60s, Step 1s, Step 2s. They say to just write it on regular piece of paper but we just came off lock-down and restriction: we don't have any of these materials to keep wasting on something that we can't win. I had to buy a few supplies from the SSIs. Now I can finally make store tomorrow, I hope! What the hell do I do? I sent back that form you mailed me that asked if I received your materials that you had been sending.

Will you please help us fight these people? They are fighting dirty and we are confined to our cells. Like I said I will make more donations to you for more materials or something. What do you think? I have spoken to lots of Officers, several Sgts all with no help to my issue of denial. Now I am waiting on Lt Summers to come and speak to me. I really doubt he will even come. I have written to both Majors, and two Wardens with no replies in two weeks. These people don't play fair at all. I feel fucked by not being able to do anything to protect myself and others. I write for other Inmates as well but I feel like a failure for not being able to make ends meet... I will await your response as I don't know what to do next.

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[Abuse] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]
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Campaign Materials Received but Confiscated

I wanted to thank you for sending the items that I had requested per my last letter to you [the TDCJ Offender Grievance Manual, Texas Campaign Pack, Sworn Complaint Form, PD-22 Codes]. FYI we just went through our lockdown. The Officers came to shake down my cell and took all your magazines you sent to me. I had been using all your information to write grievances and letters. I guess I must of done some good for them to take it all.

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[Abuse] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]
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Lockdown, no Rec, no Law Library at Hughes Unit

We were just been released from a 2 month lockdown because a new Warden had stepped in and wanted us to know hes the boss. We were not given clean clothes for 30 days straight. We received johnny sacks for 5 weeks straight before getting our first trayed meal. We all lost weight!

I filled grievance after grievance. The Grievance Investigator never even showed up for the first month. We had to buy our grievances and I-60's from other Inmates because the Staff told us they were out.

I am in G-5 Closed Custody which means I can't leave my cell. These people have and are denying us access to the Law Library. They're only sending what they want and when they want. You name it and its happening here. We are still being denied recreation yard time. I am in a bad faith based POD. We were being refused that until recently.

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[Abuse] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]
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Denied Out-of-Cell Rec and Adequate Food at Hughes Unit

I am writing regarding an issue that affects my friend who is imprisoned at the TDCJ Unit A.D. Hughes in Gatesville, Texas. Prison Administrators at this unit are continually denying the inmates and convicts in Administrative Segregation (AdSeg) any amount of time out of their cells to exercise or shower as well as continually providing the inmates and convicts with nutritionally inadequate meals thus violating State and Federal Law. These issues are causing damage to their mental and physical health in addition to indirectly creating a risk to public safety.

My friend is in AdSeg where the inmates and convicts are already confined for 23 hours each day in a cell the size of a small closet which was designed to create maximum isolation from human contact. Their only break from this type of confinement is one hour out-of-cell exercise the State and Federal Courts ordered TDCJ to provide during incarceration (Ruiz v. Estelle, 679 F.2d 1115 1151-52 (5th Cir., 1982)). An hour of out-of-cell exercise or activity was ordered each and every single day because of the risk to the mental and physical health of all inmates and convicts who are subjected to uninterrupted confinement in a tiny four-wall cell. This serious issue is well established and recognized.

However, at the Hughes Unit prison, officials are habitually and continually disregarding the established laws. For instance, in the four and a half month period from April 2018 through August 2018, there was no out-of-cell exercise provided to inmates and convicts in AdSeg on 156 of those days. This isn't a new development or the result of an emergency situation. Over the last several years, out-of-cell exercise has been canceled at a similar rate on this unit. Administrators at the A.D. Hughes Unit have not been consistently complying with State of Federal Laws—at best they are complying half the time.

To make matters worse, on about half of that time, administrators are providing inmates and convicts in AdSeg meals that are calorically and nutritionally inadequate which is also a violation of State and Federal Law. Approximately one fourth of all meals served consist of just two sandwiches and nothing more. The first sandwich has only a single slice of processed lunch-meat, soy patty or other similar meat-type product. The second sandwich has about a spoonful of peanut butter. The two sandwiches combined contain about 500 calories. There are never any fruits of vegetables or any other food required for a balanced diet made available to the inmates in AdSeg. It is impossible for these two sandwiches that are provided every now and then to maintain a person's health. Sometimes the convicts at the Hughes Unit could be forced to eat nothing but these sandwiches for months at a time, but only if there was a disciplinary lock-down and we are to be on a 2,500 calories daily dIet.

They got out-of-cell time only 95 times. There is no valid reason for the issues to be happening on a regular basis. Inmates and convicts are given the excuse that there is a lack of staff to provide out-of-cell exercise or to serve proper meals when they question these issues. While this may have been true in some instances, there are many days where exercise was denied while there was adequate staffing on the unit. The staff are choosing to cancel out-of-cell exercise because they don't feel like performing their daily work-time duties. When staff wants a day off they just ask the ranking officer in charge to declare a staff shortage and then they sit around on the unit during their shift doing nothing but collecting payment for a job they aren't performing—money provided by taxpayers. No one is holding TDCJ-CID unit administrators, or these staff members, accountable for their behavior mainly because it takes place all the way down the line from the executive director down to the CO II.

Even when there is a genuine staff shortage that fact doesn't absolve prison administrators of the responsibility of doing whatever is necessary to fully and adequately staff the prisons. Indeed the very essence of their duty is to create and maintain prisons that comply with all relevant laws. The chronic staff shortage is due in part to halfhearted measures taken to hire new employees: when new employees are hired they are often fired on trivial pretexts in order to keep staffing levels artificially low to save money on the prison budget.

It is always important to remember that these inmates and convicts will eventually be paroled or serve their sentences and be released back into society. There is a growing awareness that these types segregation units are incubators of mental illness and further criminality; even when run properly, which they never have been and never will be. Prison administrators' disregard for the inmates and convicts' rights and well being here at the Hughes Unit is only making the problems worse, but only because they wear a different color uniform than us that puts them as bias against us from jump street. After mistreating and antagonizing the convicts for years, TDCJ-CID administrators will just release them back into society, leaving an unsuspecting public to deal with the resulting fallout. Prison administrators at the Hughes Unit are putting us all at risk with this type of unlawful behavior.

Please investigate this matter and see to it that prison officials at the Hughes Unit provide the AdSeg inmates and convicts with a minimum of an hour of out-of-cell recreation every single day as well as showers on a daily basis and nutritious meals as ordered by State and Federal Law.

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[Abuse] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]
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Denial of medicine, grievances and nowhere to turn in Texas

As I write you this letter, I'm sitting in G5 closed custody after standing up to an officer denying me medical and medication. The substitute counsel never helped me nor came back to speak with me. The captain lied and said I refused to attend my hearing. So they ran major court without me. We have cameras here and I can prove they are lying. But who do I contact? I've written the warden, but they ignore my letters and I-60. I never receive a grievance back. The law library is refusing to answer any of my I-60s. The officers have come into my cell and packed my property only to take some of my legal transcripts, returned I-60s, and medications, lay-ins and other personals. They went into my legal manila envelopes and took documents. They threw away my legal envelopes, combined several containers of legals into other folders mixing things up and getting them out of order.

What do I do? Who do I contact? No one on this unit will answer an I-60 concerning the issue. I need your help to start me in the right direction to help myself and my fellow brothers beside me. I don't have any outside sources or family to help.

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[Abuse] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]
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Deprived of food in Texas

I need to know my rights as a offender in Texas. I was locked in my cell without food due to a malfunctioning door. When I informed the guard as he walked by, he just shrugged his shoulders and kept walking.

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