Prisoners Report on Conditions in

McConnell 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.

[Drugs] [Deaths in Custody] [Abuse] [Peace in Prisons] [McConnell Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 84]
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ULK 83 Correction: Murders Weren't About Drugs

Dear MIM-ULK Editor,

Your Fall 2023 edition, at page 11, published the article “Prisoners Punished for Drug Problems in Texas”. The article began:

“On 6 September 2023 the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) prison system mandated a statewide lockdown due to the number of deaths related to drugs: a total of 16.”

This “related to drugs” statement IS A LIE fabricated by prison administrators to cover up the TRUE basis for the 16 murders, and cast the blame and causes for the killings on solely the prisoners, with no accountability on the government. Drugs had little to nothing to do with the murders!

I am on the McConnell Unit – 5 of those 16 murders occurred here; the highest murder rate of any TDCJ-CID facility. There were, also, 3 sodomy sexual assaults. 5 murders and 3 rapes in one 12 month period. NONE of them drug related per se.

From reading the article and its various contributors’ focus; I am making an informed deduction that the fellow prisoners who contributed based their deductions solely on the TDCJ-CID “Public Information Office” press release propaganda alone, with no real knowledge of the truth. I dug deeper and actually investigated.

The FACTUAL causes of the murders was total absence of any meaningful Classification and Housing Policy/Practice to separate categories of personality types; coupled with the administration’s practice of imposing 24/7 lockdowns due to shortage of personnel; and, feeding high-carb, starchy meals that meet caloric amounts but are devoid of bio-necessary nutrients.

Of the 5 murders and 3 rapes over 12 months here at McConnell Unit, one murder was committed by a prisoner high on K-2 and one of the rapists was drunk on “hooch”. The other 4 murders were NON-drug-related – the killers and victims were incompatible personalities placed in an 8’x12’ closet-sized cell and, at the time of the murders, having to spend 24 hours a day in the cell together. Nerves got frayed, personalities clashed, someone died. All three rapes occurred under similar circumstances: cellmates who were under a prolonged in-cell period due to “Staff Shortage”; one a dominant predatory personality, the other a passive victim – the predator gave in to his nature, the victim got sodomized.

In EVERY murder and rape, it could have been avoided had TDCJ-CID enforced a legitimate and meaningful classification, Housing Policy and Practice that separated prisoners into housing with compatible personalities and dispositions. However, classification is almost universally based on:

  1. age range;
  2. physical size; and,
  3. disciplinary history.

While TDCJ-CID policy states various other factors for the classification as well, actual practice uses only the above 3. Cell assignments usually keep the occupants within a similar age and physical size, but the overall cellblocks will contain ranges in age from 18-98 and people ranging from 5’2”, 100 lb to 6’6”, 350 lb. We’ll get a 19-20 year old first offender with 10-12 disciplinary cases in prison for a few theft cases put in a cell with a hard-core Gangsta on his fifth trip to prison for domestic violence/armed assault.

Since state law does NOT allow for any kind of public oversight NOR citizens’ investigations of conditions and administrative practices in the prison facilities, TDCJ-CID can fabricate whatever tale it wants to explain the murders and rapes – hence, put the blame on drugs, gangs, etc. and deny itself any blame.

I realize ULK Editors MUST rely on prisoners’ reports to even know what circumstances are behind the walls. However, it’s prudent that you fact check what the prisoners say, because the vast majority of Texas prisoners actually take “Official Reports” as truth and never even question what they hear on the news!

CLUE: Anytime an Official Report points its finger solely at prisoners to assign blame, and/or gives excuses that open a door to imposing harsher or more restrictive “security” measures – the odds are the Official Report contains lies and is little more than “Perception Management” propaganda to deceive the public.

Courts will not pry into prison operations; they always defer to the “professional knowledge of prison authorities” and accept whatever fabricated “fact” the prison administration offers. When any public organization tries to monitor inside prison conditions, they are blocked. And, the prison administration always has “Brown Nose” prisoners willing to sing whatever song officials want in exchange for privileges.

Prisons are for the most part “black holes” where the light of truth is concerned – truth is sucked in and hidden while only the darkness of lies is visible.

TDCJ-CID has about as much transparency as the CIA – and, until Congress adopts a Law, or the people put in the state Constitution something that imposes citizen oversight (by independent organizations), TDCJ-CID will remain a near-opaque agency.

Thank you for the attention you’ve given to this reality of life in Texas prisons.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We thank this comrade for the additional information on the situation on the ground. We explain our perspective and our reliance on on-the-ground correspondents in every issue of ULK in a box titled ‘On “Objective” Reporting.’

The main point of the article being responded to was that the TDCJ was enforcing a statewide lockdown for a problem that they caused. We know there is massive drug addiction plaguing the imprisoned population in Texas and many other states right now. So in these regards we had the facts straight, and made it clear that it was the staff to blame.

That said we appreciate the additional information this comrade provides on the causes of the deaths and violence. We would not say that celling certain personalities together are at the heart of the violence. And we certainly wouldn’t blame predatory behavior on an individual’s “nature.” There are plenty of contexts in which different people can live together without killing each other. It is the particular oppressive and stressful conditions of U.$. prisons that lead to these tragedies and lost lives. As this comrade mentions, solitary confinement and poor food are serious stressors on the body, especially the brain. It is our experience that the drug economy is a big contributor to conflicts as well. This is not blaming the prisoners, this is blaming the state for promoting the current drug epidemic as a means to divide and pacify the oppressed.

The principal contradiction that defines the prison system is that between the captive and the captor. It is in the interests of the captor, who is the minority, to distract and divide the captives. This must come first, before things like ignoring celling protocols can become operative in a way that leads to deaths. A united prisoner population would not be manipulated by celling strategies.

That said, we agree that policies regarding who is celled with who can reduce these conflicts in our current situation. More importantly, we agree that some kind of outside oversight and pressure is necessary to change the ways of those who would be enforcing such policies. It is only through building true independent institutions that we can begin to apply such independent pressure in a way that serves the people by preventing these oppressive tactics.

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[Heat] [Political Repression] [Abuse] [McConnell Unit] [Texas]
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Murderous Heat and Retaliation in Texas

I have received a few publications this year. Some from The National Lawyers Guilde, The Coalition For Prisoners Rights, and two MIM publications. Of course, there are a tremendous amount of struggles taking place. How could there not be? We as prisoners are after all being punished.

Punishment means, according to U.S. interest and interpretation of the word by the Supreme Court, that states are granted permission to impose upon their prisoners “harsh conditions”, and that ultimately prisoners have “no right to comfort”.

Texas has definitely taken advantage of the fact that they are granted permission to punish prisoners. I know this for a fact because I am a prisoner in Texas prison. I can not speak for any other state. I have only personally experienced, and still am experiencing, life inside a Texas prison compound. I have been confined/hostage for going on 10 years. I have been in TDCJ-CID for about 7 1/2 years.

Yes, there are a lot of things I have witnessed and because of that a lot I can report about and or discuss. The majority of this information has actually already been brought to the attention of some outside the prison. Consequently, most people in the free world could care less. The imprisoned lumpen are a hated class and the public has been conditioned to believe that prisoners deserve their punishment and harsh living conditions.

I disagree with those who think we deserve punishment. Harsh conditions in Texas involves being enslaved, pinned against your cellmate, exposed to the elements, exposed to insects and vermin, mental anguish, denial of mail etc.. It truly goes on! How could any conscious human be deserving of punishment, that by design, is intended to defeat you, break you down, and cause long-term fundamental changes within you. Long-term changes that are not for the betterment of yourself or humanity.

TEXAS’ MURDEROUS HEAT

The harsh condition that I am going to now write about is one that I have not seen in any of the ‘prisoners struggle’ publications this year: extreme heat within Texas prisons. This is a real problem, a problem that not only imposes harsh conditions and punishes prisoners, but as history has shown, sometimes even executes the prisoner!

Under information and belief and from what I have heard on F.M. radio news, prisoners, forced into this Texas punishment compound, have actually been executed this year by being forcefully exposed to the harsh condition of extreme heat in Texas. Many more, including me, have been physically assaulted by this tortuous and murderous heat. Heat that causes physical illness and or Death!

Sadly, those who have been conditioned to hate prisoners most likely take extraordinary pride in the fact that their state, Texas, punishes its prisoners literally to Death. As the saying goes: DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS!

Well, I have recently filed a §1983 over this deadly and dangerous heat here at the McConnell Unit. See Civil Action No. 2:23-cv-00201 filed in U.S. Dist. Court Southern Dist. Texas Corpus Christi Div. Will I prevail? Most likely not because T.X. claims to have in place adequate heat mitigation measures, and T.X. prisoncrats do an exceptionally well job at covering up illegal conduct.

RETALIATION

As of right now, I am being retaliated against by TDCJ Prison guards on the McConnell Unit. I seen this coming because there is a gang of ‘punishers’ who are employed at the McConnell Unit. Sometimes you know who they are by the Patch that they wear on their vests. This Patch is a picture of the comic book character Punisher’s emblem that is superimposed on to either a Texas Flag or an American Flag.

Since filing grievances, when I attempt to get a officers name, I am rudely denied and often threatened with a case. Even though officers are required to give their names upon request, rank does not enforce this upon their subordinates at all!

On July 30, 2023, I requested names from several officers, all in the presence of a sergeant, I was refused their names then written a fraudulent major case by the sergeant Samantha Ramirez. This was the second fraudulent case that was written on me since filing grievances about the heat.

In addition to the fraudulent major case, a hearing was ran on me without me knowing about it or having a chance to confront the accuser. I found out that a case was ran on me when prison classification changed my custody level from g3 to g4 status requiring me to live in a more restrictive housing assignment and forfeiting any of my immediate chances at getting moved to a prison closer to my C.O.P.D. dying Mother. Due Process does not exist for me at this ‘Government Blacksite’

Even more, I have had my life threatened by these vigilantes, denied medical, denied showers, denied recreation, denied dayroom, denied access to phone calls, denied my diet food trays, etc, and I am sure it. It is not over with.

This shit is really going on! I will continue to keep in contact with MIM. Good bye for now!

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[Grievance Process] [Campaigns] [Civil Liberties] [Censorship] [McConnell Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 77]
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TDCJ Upholds Censorship of their own Grievance Manual

For many years, MIM Distributors has been providing legal resources to prisoners in Texas, including the Texas Department of Criminal Justice(TDCJ)’s own Grievance Operations Manual. In 2010, USW launched the grievance campaign in Texas, developing petitions to notify regulatory bodies when the TDCJ was violating its own grievance process. Four years later a comrade reported that on 30 September 2014 the TDCJ removed the Grievance Operations Manual, which lays out the TDCJ’s relevant code and policies, from all prison libraries(1) where it used to be available for prisoners to reference. Soon after, MIM Distributors began offering this document to comrades who were trying to fight grievances they had against the TDCJ.

In May 2019, we received a report from a comrade that the copy of the Grievance Operations Manual we sent em had been confiscated by a Correctional Officer(C.O.) in the law library!(2)

Turns out, they have continued to step things up a notch to keep this public information out of the hands of prisoners. On 12 January 2022, MIM Distributors was notified by the staff that the TDCJ Grievance Operation Manual was censored at McConnell Unit on 10 December 2021 for the following reason:

“in contradiction with BP-03.91, Uniform Offender Correspondence Rules”

That was all the detail given. And we have not determined any portion of BP-03.91 that could possibly be applied to TDCJ’s own public policies. These types of cases should be easy wins for us. Unfortunately, we do not have the support we used to have to deal with prison administrators and hold them accountable. Outside supporters, get in touch to help us rebuild our capacity to fight these blatant injustices. Comrades inside that are falling victim to this repression, keep filing paperwork and provide us with all the info you can on what is going on.

notes: 1. A Texas Prisoner, November 2014, Texas Hides Grievance Manual from Prisoners, Under Lock & Key 42.
2. A Texas Prisoner, May 2019, Texas Confiscating Offender’s Grievance Operations Manual.

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[Grievance Process] [Campaigns] [McConnell Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 76]
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Grievance Campaign in McConnell Unit, TX

Ten comrades in Texas’s William G. McConnell Unit signed and submitted a petition to Mrs. Emma Guerra, Investigator II with the Texas Department of Corrections and Justice (TDCJ) on 25 October 2021. The letter does a good job of citing grievances that have not been responded to as well as retaliatory actions by staff for filing said grievances. They also cite the relevant policy from the TDCJ grievance procedures and inmate handbook.

We have not succeeded in organizing a statewide coordinated campaign around the grievance system in Texas, but it remains an important campaign at the local level for pushing back against abuses and organizing others around a common cause as these comrades have done at McConnell. With their well-documented petition, perhaps they have a vision for how to unite others across the state for this common cause.

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[Abuse] [McConnell Unit] [Texas]
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McConnell Treating Prisoners like Animals

The McConnell Unit on which I am located are treating their prisoners like animals. There are major injustices that are being perpetrated against us no a daily basis.

The water is not clean or clear, and no air circulation in these cells. Holes in the ceiling, walls, and floors. Prisoners are afraid to fight for what's right. They don't understand.

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[Medical Care] [McConnell Unit] [Texas]
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Medical Failures and Discrimination at xx

I have been incarcerated 27 years now and most of my time I've spent on "Safe keeping." We are usually discriminated against by both inmates and officers. I have experienced verbal insults and threats and shortened food in the chow hall. Complaining does no good and the grievance system is a joke where the complaint comes back "officers deny all allegations." I guess some people feel the need to vent their frustrations out on others to relieve their own problems, but I wonder why people can't treat others properly.

Medical here is strange; we wait in a cage for hours to see a "provider" who offers aspirin or other generic medication at the cost of $100. I have seen many times where they misdiagnose a prisoner or even find no problem when the person later finds out he has cancer.

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[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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