Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Polunsky Unit - Federal

Got legal skills? Help out with writing letters to appeal censorship of MIM Distributors by prison staff. 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.

[Deaths in Custody] [Heat] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas]

State (Texas) of Emergency

Dear Comrades,

In June 2023, 32 Texas prisoners died, none of which were associated with heat supposedly, the New York Times reported. Of those who died, at least five, including a 34-year-old and a 35-year-old, died of reported heart attacks of cardiac arrest in uncooled prisons when heat indexes broke triple digits, according to a Texas Tribune analysis.

Texas hasn’t officially reported a heat-related prison death in more than a decade; the last death reported was in 2012.

Statistically that doesn’t add up nor is it true. In 2022 a study published in JAMA Network Open determined than an average of 14 heat-related deaths occurred each year between 2001 and 2019 in Texas prisons that don’t have air conditioning. The study found that no deaths were associated with heat in the prisons that had air conditioning during this time period. About 70% of Texas prisons don’t have air conditioning during this time period in inmate living spaces, the Houston Chronicle reported in May. There are about 128,000 prisoners in Texas and only 42,000 have cool beds (Therapeutic cool housing).

Texas has 100 prisons (facilities); 31 had air conditioning in all housing areas as of May, and 14 had zero air conditioning in the housing areas. The remaining facilities have varying degrees of air conditioning.

The living conditions in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) lacking air conditioning is very oppressive, dangerous, and aggressively unlivable in the sweltering heat.

TDCJ implemented a policy in which the prisons have “respite areas” with air conditioning. These “respite areas” can be in the unit chapel, medical, or an education room which enables prisoners to sit in to “cool” off temporarily. The Random House Dictionary of the English Language (College Edition) defines “respite” as a temporary suspension of the execution of a person condemned to death. That sounds like the definition of TDCJ!

Here are the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas (which also houses Deathrow prisoners for the state of Texas) I’ve witnessed prisoners wetting the cement floors in their cells and laying on it to get relief from sweltering temperatures.

The Texas prisons were built purposely without air conditioning. TDCJ is a $3 billion industry and has no capacity to air condition its prisons.

Texas prisons are made of concrete and steel which gets extremely hot. Temperatures inside some of the uncooled Texas prisons regularly surpass 110 degrees, topping out at a heat index of 149 degrees in one unit, according to a Texas A&M University Study using data collected between 2018 and 2020.

Comrades please understand the “respite areas”, cool showers, and ice water access is not giving daily as “policy” directs. Prisoners regularly sustain disciplinary punishment trying to acquire the cooling privileges because it is not guaranteed.

Texas has the remedy to combat the problem that only costs money. It is a simple math problem, not a complex issue. Easy solution to save humans from dying of sickness and heat-related illnesses. TDCJ saves millions in revenue each year off the free labor of prisoners but won’t invest any money to accommodate the lives of the prisoners they extort from.

TDCJ is still stuck in its 19th century blueprint and seems to be biased to the 21st century methods of air conditioning. This is a very serious problem that will turn fatal as record breaking temperatures continue to rise. If death occurs it will only be covered up and blamed on something else.

Rather than designate money specifically for air conditioning the state budget that takes effect September 2023 allots $85.7 million to TDCJ, which can be used for cooling measures, the Texas Tribune reported. Don’t hold your breath on this comrades.

In these summer months and beyond, TDCJ units are like makeshift ovens, literally. The cells are heated chambers that bake and roast human beings to exhaustion.

This matter is a state (Texas) of Emergency. To those who view this subject as that… please help.

I am drenched with perspiration as I write this. Being a prisoner in Texas is the true definition of blood, SWEAT, and tears.

[COVID-19] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas]

Staff in Texas Prison Say "It's just the flu" and Ignore COVID-19 Precautions


First of all I want to thank you all for the mental support that you have extended throughout this year leading up to my release. It was much needed and extremely vital, especially to my philosophical development. Thank you. I am dissecting and internalizing J. Sakai’s “Settlers” that I received from you. Definitely giving me a few “hmm” moments. And I’ve read so much non-conventional history that I’ve gotten used to the same perspectives in different packaging. So it is a refreshing read. I also received “Malcolm X Speaks” and I am sure I don’t have to expound on how much I’m enjoying it. I greatly appreciate it.

I have received everything you have sent. Surprisingly enough, considering how backwards and close-minded the state of Texas is. These officers are not heeding the cautionary guidelines pertaining to COVID-19. When I confronted the Captain and Sgt. they both tried to convince me that this is not as serious as the media portrays, and that the “regular” flu (oxymoron) has killed more. Obviously, they are too uninformed, or just too stupid to realize that the common flu may kill 30-40 thousand per year with a vaccine and without social distancing, but this has killed 60-70 thousand plus in just (4) months, with no vaccine and world-wide social distancing. They are Trump supporters so I’m not surprised. I’ve had a mask since February, but they handle our food and I am a G5 custody level so they have to escort me to the shower which is the only time I leave this cell. I have a mask on as I write this. Hopefully, I can make it out of here disease-free. Unless I’ve already contracted it and am asymptomatic. Who knows, these people are imbeciles.

Anyway, I will write again within my last (2) weeks.

In struggle.

[Civil Liberties] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas]

G-2 Status Denied to Lifers and Over 50 Prisoners in Texas

Greetings. Sorry for the mix up but my unit is so chaotic that I can’t honestly remember when I wrote last! No I did not get a copy of the appeal grievance letter but I was informed you would file for one! Most importantly yes I do want a copy of the grievance manual! … it has been crazy here (Polunsky) from celebrities (K.M.K.) to multiple deaths - lethal injection - inmate on inmate - officer negligence. To the unit putting out a short of staff S.O.S. We have other officers from all around pulling shifts and the reg. staff keep quitting due to the unjust action, overworkload, and underpayment. In short the manual is in dire need and would be greatly appreciated by not only myself but others that make an attempt at combating the injustice and harsh conditions here.

Another major issue that needs to be looked into is the G-3 status (lifers or 50 yrs + over) inmates with stacked time or I.W.O.P. that have completed the required 10 year G-3 status, are being placed back on G-3 status and are told they will never receive a G-2. The G-3 status restricts inmates to certain and/or no jobs and keep them from attending vocation or college class educations. A law was passed concerning a group of G-3 sex offenders because one raped, beat, and killed a guard on another unit but that law applies to sex offenders that are G-3 only. This unit has taken many G-2 and placed them back on G-3 but those offenders have over 10 years done, and no recent disciplinary offense. That is just one of the many issues we are fighting. Again thank you and you all are appreciated.

[Censorship] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas]

Conditions in Polunsky

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.

[Censorship] [Campaigns] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 68]

Texas Bans Mailing its own Grievance Manual to Prisoners

tdcj griev manual censorship

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 Chican@ 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.

[Abuse] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas]

Punished for Broken Door Lock in Texas

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.

[Campaigns] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas]

Grievance Black Hole in Texas Polunsky Unit

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.

[Abuse] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas]

Texas ignores pleas for help, allows suicide

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.

[Campaigns] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas]

Texas Polunsky Unit destroying property, denying grievances

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".

[Abuse] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas]

Hostil Environment, Grievances Tossed at Polunsky

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."

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