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.
Stiles went down on its annual oppressive lockdown on the 9th of September. Still no mail pick up (it’s Sat the 17th!) and only one official shower given on the 14th. Most of the guards (99.9%) are A) Nigerian citizens on work visas, or B) African-American females with little education, marketable job skills, or energy. Either way, the levels of adherence to the rules of confinement per TDJC Guidelines in Huntsville is laughable, and most paper work is pencil-whipped.
I yelled out to D-2 Asst. Warden Fisher on Tues the 13th that “4 building D-wing” has not received a shower yet, and she yelled back “That’s not what the paperwork says!”
Policy posted on the dayroom window on Day 1, Week 1 of this lockdown says showers will be allowed 3 times per week on M-W-F, with a 10 degree hygiene spend in the 2nd week. Good Luck
No mail pick up, no law library, no showers, and most meals consist of a “Johnny sack”– a paper sack with a PB+Syrup sandwich on cheap donated white bread, and a teaspoon of spicy hamburger meat an another 2 slices of bread. No access to cold water. I’m up on 3 row where the heat collects and my Vaseline turns liquid by 10 A.M.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Mark W. Stiles Unit has been operating for most of 2022 so short of staff that it is placing the public’s safety at risk. For instance buildings 3, 4 and 7 house up to 432 each and on most days operate with one officer at the building control desk, 3 officers assigned to the 3 control pickets and one rover per building. That is 5 officers per 432 prisoners. The 3 buildings mentioned above not to mention buildings 11,12,18 and 19 (of which I have no personal knowledge of the number of prisoners housed in those buildings) that is a total of 15 officers for 1,296 prisoners. The officers are over-worked and have short tempers. They are tired and the rovers are only giving the prisoners an ingress/egress to and from the cells every 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours causing tension levels to be extremely high.
LAW AND FACTS
Mission statement: The Mission of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is to provide Public safety, promote positive change in offender behavior, reintegrate offenders into society and assist victims of crime.
TDCJ Administrative Directive (A.D.)-s.40 clearly states: Offenders will be afforded at least hourly ingress tom and egress from their cells during dayroom hours. Post Order 7.023 (1) The cell block officer shall call for an ingress/egress on the hour, from the dayroom to cells and from cells to dayroom, (2) The cellblock officer shall give offenders returning to cellblock from assigned jobs, school, commissary, or other unit activities opportunity to return directly to their cells.
TDCJ’s failure to follow its own procedural rules and regulations is an independent violation of due process. This holds true even if the rules and regulations provide protections beyond those which are constitutionally required. The existence of rules creates the expectancy that they will be followed… except to create an illusionary semblance of compliance… The legislatures failure to appropriate funds sufficient to increase significantly the security staff does not absolve the TDCJ of liability for any unconstitutional shortcomings in the area of security (see Ruiz V. Seator, 359 U.S. 535 (1959)).
2021 Texas legislative House Bill 3157 by Ron Reynolds. This New Law increases the penalty for violating a person in custody’s civil rights from a class A misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.
I am currently writing to you in regards to us not having a Grievance Officer at the Stiles Unit. We have been without one for at least 9 or 10 months now that I know of, because I have been continuously writing them with none of them being returned or even answered.
I am writing to you to receive the petitions that I need to get started on this guest. There is no reason why we shouldn’t have a grievance officer on this unit.
I want the state level petition, and the new follow up petition to get started on getting some action on this process as soon as possible. We have 4 prisons in the vicinity of this prison about 5 blocks within each other, they can get a officer from them. Everyday for 2 or 3 months we have been short of staff 15 to 20 officers at a time, sometimes more. Thank you for your time and your understanding in the midst of this horrible time we all are experiencing with this virus. God bless all for the work you’ll are doing with the news you print for the incarcerated ones.
We’re sending you this letter to seek true help; our offender orientation handbook is being ignored: DayRoom Rule Pg.16 #f.5 – also #1 meaning televisions will also be kept at a low volume. Living Area C.Pg.14 #8/Pg.16 f.#5. We use common sense here – #9 T.V. – volume/radio etc. These T.V.’s never get turned off, and the volume never gets turned down. Yes – loud!! and aggravating at rack up time: Basic Care they ask us to wear our masks, so we wear masks. They ask us to practice social distancing, so we do. But our DayRoom Rule (k) Pg. #57 (the Safety of Persons) are also being ignored.
PD22 – #20 and #23 are truly and deliberately being ignored/General Rules of Conduct, and where we all have asked to get up off the floor and the trash can while visiting on the DayRoom Telephones especially to avoid Covid Cases that has risen by 33% already and winter has not come around yet. We now are dealing with poor security, that causes mental anguish and fear, concerning these violations, we ask for freedom from discrimination – and the right to equal protection: we ask for meaningful help to formerly resolve all of this.
I’m writing this letter on behalf of all Texas prison inmates who have been denied access to respite areas here at the Mark W. Stiles Unit or anywhere within TDCJ-CID agency state wide.
In United States District Court, Southern District of Texas in the Houston Division, Keith Cole et al. v. Brad Livington, TDCJ Director, et al.; Civil Action No. 4:14-CV-1698, a class action lawsuit, at page 769 it states:
Respite Training and Education
All inmates, both those assigned and not assigned jobs, will be trained on the importance of respite and how to access respite. Training will include:
Respite means cooling off for a period of time in an air conditioned place;
Inmates are allowed to access respite 24/7;
The education wing is now a dedicated respite area;
Inmates do not need to be sick, injured, or feeling bad to access respite, rather they may do so to cool down whenever they wish;
To access respite, inmates can make the request for asking correctional officers if there are problems ask to talk to a ranking correctional officer;
Impress that no one will be retaliated against for asking for respite, and;
Education about why respite is important to protect ones health. The training will follow a script and there will be a time for questions from the inmates. A training circular will be distributed that mirrors the respite notice. There will be a sign-in sheet for inmates to confirm training and receipt of the circular.
Also, a new poster has been developed and will further emphasize these same points. The poster will be placed in common areas accessible to inmates, it clearly states that an inmate may request access to respite areas 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, not being required to be feeling ill. It further states that if an inmate is feeling ill, he should alert staff so that medical assistance can be obtained. The poster also gives the inmates a description of the expectations regarding their behavior in respite, stating that inmates:
Regular access respite any time during the day or night, do not need to be sick, injured, or feeling bad to access respite, rather they may do so to cool down when ever they wish;
Should use respite regularly because it helps the body thermoregulate;
Should be aware that heat is dangerous and heat illness can occur suddenly when temperatures are high;
Should ask staff for medical staff attention if they actually feel ill due to heat;
May talk quietly in respite;
May bring a cooling towel;
Will be provided a chair, and must remain seated;
May not engage in horseplay or arguing;
May not create disturbances;
May not save chairs for other inmates, and;
Must be properly dressed (pants and shirts).
The TDCJ’s Respite Area policy is not being honored here at the Mark W. Stiles Unit even though there are designated areas such as:
Medical Department waiting cage,
Offenders General Library, Windham School District Department
Law Library Department
Note: The Law Library Department, Education Department and the chapel will only be used as a respite area after normal hours at other areas are over.
The current warden has modified or ignored all of these rules. The warden has ordered that all inmates at the Mark W. Stiles Unit must get a pass to have access to respite area and each pass per inmate is only good for 30 minutes. When 30 minutes expires such inmate must return back to their living area buildings to obtain another pass.
These wardens are playing physicians in practicing medicine without a license in the way that they are violating this policy. It don’t have to be hot for another human being in the Texas prison system to be affected by heat related symptoms. There are many drugs that lower heat tolerance, ranging from anti-convulsants to beta blockers. These drugs may disrupt the body’s ability to sweat or thermoregulate, make the body more sensitive to sunlight, or otherwise make people more susceptible to heat illness, and need more respite than thirty minutes broken up by having to go get another pass every time.
There are also reports identifying offenders with heat and/or sunlight sensitivity restrictions, and unit courtroom staff will provide unit security staff with this Medical Heat Restriction List, which identifies offenders who have a heat restriction and is supposed to require security staff to perform wellness checks, in accordance with Administrative Directive 10.64, ‘Extreme Temperature Conditions in the TDCJ.’
Here at the most corrupt unit within TDCJ, the Mark W. Stiles Unit, the respite area and heat related symptoms policies are not followed. In the 11 building restrictive housing area where there is no ventilation system functioning nor any open windows, offenders can not get a cool down shower or access to the respite area, only because the Unit is short handed in staff and all the cool down showers and respite areas are set aside for general population offenders and not those in restrictive housing.
There are offenders in the restrictive housing area that have asthma, use a CPAP machine, or have other respiratory needs/illnesses. Staff will use their chemical agent on an offender which will effect all innocent bystanders, and won’t take anyone to medical even if they do recognize or notice breathing issues owing to the use of the chemical agent. Offenders have to get the attention of the authorities some other way, and once an offender is at the medical department and tells the nurses or other medical providers what’s going on, we can only get medicines or treatment that the security staff approve of, not what we might actually need.
So basically us offenders with heat sensitivity or any respiratory issues are walking dead at the Mark W. Stiles Unit. Please help us investigate and organize against this corrupt TDCJ unit, we in the Texas prison system don’t want to die.
TDCJ has done it again selling their prisoners’ donated gifts to themselves for a profit when it is against the Texas government’s code of law!
Once again! I do take the pen in hand on the behalf of all Texas prisoners because TDCJ has broken another of its own law. TDCJ has now stopped selling and issuing the clear whirlwind fan to their prisoners because a company has donated TDCJ numerous fans for their prisoners as a gift. But these new version of donated fans are being sold to us Texas prisoners for $22.50 out of the TDCJ-CID units’ commissary and through the e-comm direct. But the thing with these donated gift fans is that they are much smaller and the fan itself do not produce much air, like the clear whirlwind fan that actually do and you can actually feel the cool air relief especially through the hottest months of the summer. Unlikely the whirl wind fan you can actually take it apart to clean the dirt and lint, but you can’t with these donated gift fans that are glued very tightly. These new fans won’t last long.
The state of Texas has a government code law that prevent them from selling any donated items, food, or materials to its own state’s prisoners for profit. TDCJ has done this very same thing back in the 1990s era when J.C. Penny’s and Flores donated TDCJ prisoners tennis shoes and thick windbreaker jackets. TDCJ sold the tennis shoes to us prisoners in commissary and gave the windbreaker jackets to the officers and their own families. Both JC Penny and Flores eventually had to sue TDCJ over it and settle out of court. But it’s deja vu all over again. TDCJ believes they are above the law and Constitution when it comes to prisoners’ rights. A lot of them believe that as prisoners we lost them once we were sentenced.
The actual company whom did donate them smaller versions of fans as being a gift most likely did it for the tax write off and don’t even know that TDCJ’s own commissary is selling them to us prisoners instead of issuing it to prisoners for free. A lot of prisoners who had actually purchased one is trading it to those who can’t go to commissary for the old indigent whirlwind fan. Please do look into this donated fans since it is being sold to us Texas prisoners instead of issued to us as a gift by such company.
This letter is on behalf of all wheelchair and/or handicapped offenders here in Texas Department of Criminal Justice Correctional Institutions Division(TDCJ-CID) on the Mark W. Stiles unit.
I’m in an Assistive Disability Services (ADS) wheelchair that’s covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) through its Americans Corrections Associates (ACA) Standards. I had received a major disciplinary write up for refusing to go into a regular cell with a cell mate because it’s not a wheel chair handicap accessible approved cell.
What’s a wheelchair handicap accessible cell you ask? It’s the following:
The in-cell locker must be at chest level while sitting in a wheelchair, not on the floor.
The in-cell shelf must be at chest level while sitting in a wheelchair, not way too high out of reach way above the walls at the top bunk area.
The in-cell stool by its table is not supposed to be there so a wheelchair can roll under the table and use it.
The in-cell toilet/sink area is supposed to have handicapped rails to grab onto when transferring from the wheelchair.
The in-cell bottom bunk/bed area is supposed to have handicapped rails to grab onto for supports when transferring from the wheelchair.
The entrance at the doorway of the cell is supposed to be wide enough to fit a wheelchair.
No wheelchair offenders are allowed to have a cell mate, to prevent them from being taken advantage of.
The general population day rooms are supposed to have a table lacking stools to allow wheelchair offenders to have equal access and share the tables. The day room’s rest room area is supposed to have rails to grab onto as in the cell.
Wheelchair offenders are supposed to have 24 hours access to a wheelchair and/or handicap shower due to bodily discharges of feces and urine and the need for changes of clothing.
The above mentioned wheelchair and/or handicap accessible cells are nowhere to be found for handicapped offenders on the Mark W. Stiles Unit. Don’t get me wrong – there are a handful of single handicap cells in its 7 buildings, but most of the offenders in them aren’t even handicapped nor in a wheelchair. Buildings 11, 12, 3, 4 and 8 don’t have any single handicapped cells at all. So wheelchair offenders are being forced to live with a cellmate.
There have been 2 murders of wheelchair handicapped offenders by their cellmates. The Stiles Unit administration knew about the danger but still allowed handicapped offenders to live with non-handicapped ones, creating the 2 murders.
Right now on 12 Building restrictive housing area we have several of the wheelchair handicapped offenders living in their pod’s day room areas because their wheelchairs are too big to fit through the entrance to any cell. But since I’m the only wheelchair handicapped offender that protested against this and refused to go into a regular cell that is not wheelchair accessible, I received a major disciplinary write up only for exercising my disabilities rights.
The TDCJ state classification committee are the ones in charge and are consistently approving wheelchair offenders to be transferred to the Mark W. Stiles Unit, going against their medical restrictions and ignoring their disabilities.
Several of the wheelchair offenders do accept this form of discrimination due to the fact that they do not know the laws or prison rules, and they fear getting a disciplinary like I did or being placed in 11 Building restrictive housing, which is used as a form of retaliation and harassment. In restrictive housing it can be difficult to get medication or get to medical appointments because of the need to be escorted everywhere and TDCJ is very short handed in the Mark W. Stiles Unit. TDCJ is shorthanded here because of corruption uncovered among its own officers in the Unit.
A class of wheelchair and/or handicapped offenders are suffering because the lack of appropriate cells is not being fixed, and my request form involving over 20 inmates is being ignored by the authorities. My Americans With Disabilities Act grievance under board policy 03.82 VII A 4,5 and VIII has been denied 3 times by the unit grievance investigators. Please! Investigate TDCJ wheelchair handicap offenders needs.
I was moved to another unit for a heat restriction that I have due to medical problems, and have to be in air conditioning. TDCJ lost a lawsuit and Fed court tells them to A/C the Pack One unit. So now they are doing some system wide moving us inmates who have heat restrictions, or what is called heat sensitive medical conditions. There is about 24 conditions that they have at this time. The number one is if inmates are 65 and older. I am 67, but I have a lot of the conditions they talk about having.
Anyway, the Texas prison system is trying to get us old inmates into a temperature control housing which is with A/C. But the bad thing they are putting us in what is called 12 Building which is the Ad-Seg on Stiles unit. Now they made 3 pods for general population heat restriction but we are treated like we are Ad-Seg.
We do get day room from 7am to 10:30pm, phone, TV, we go to commissary off the building, mail room. We don’t have a chow hall we only have a room with 6 tables, they have to bring cooked food to 12 building from the main kitchen. To the kitchen on 12 building which only has a steam table that we get served off of it.
I would like to take this time to share with the readers a very good and strong effort that brought about a positive change.
About 6 months ago I started asking these young inmates on Stiles Unit 8 Building to make a copy of a Step #1 Grievance I had wrote challenging the sanitation of the 8 Building makeshift kitcken that used three (3) barrels to wash, rinse, and sanitize trays, because the makeshift kitchen does not have a dishwasher in it. Well my Grievance came back and all allegations that food service violated policy and procedures was denied.
However the good news is I thought I knew how to write a good Grievance until February 2019 when I got the copy of the Texas Pack. I rewrote the Grievance in a friend's name and today 8 Building and J and L Pod Medium Custody go to the main chow hall to eat lunch and dinner. Yes, they still feed breakfast in the makeshift kitchen and I challenged that.
A week ago I thought I had died and went to heaven because I received a pack of Grievance Complaint forms (petitions to have our grievances addressed). I also received ULK 66. To my comrades in the struggle I say keep fighting and to MIM I say thank you.
It's been a while since I've been in contact with you. I've been pretty busy trying to get help legal-wise and medical-wise over this bus wreck that I was involved in while I was riding in a TDCJ-ID bus. I've been trying to get a copy of the accident report from the Beaumont Sheriff's Dept. Office. I keep getting the run-around by the Sheriff's spokesman and sent to the Texas OIG Investigations Office. I'm now having surgeries on my neck, knees and back. I can't get no attorney to accept my case against TDCJ.
The federal courts will not go against TDCJ here in Beaumont because the Mark W. Stiles Unit hires all the welfare and unemployment people here in Beaumont. Now the Stiles Unit is in violation of the Safe Prisons Act, Ruiz Suit and PREA because the Stiles Unit is 15% under-staffed. There are more illegal drugs being consumed here on this Unit than there are on the outside of those fences. There are offender deaths every week due to these drugs. The grievance system does not work. The Step 1 (I-127) and Step 2 (I-128) are being withheld and answered here on the Unit or thrown away.
I've written to several Civil Rights organizations and haven't gotten any answers. I need to get an attorney that's out-of-state to handle my bus wreck and get me the proper medical help that I need for my injuries. I write my family for help but they receive an envelope with no letter in it. The mail room supervisor Ms. Willis blames the Beaumont Post Master's Office for my letter not being in the envelope. My envelopes are supposed to be sealed when leaving this Unit so the letter should be in the sealed envelope, which it is not. It won't surprise me if you get an empty envelope also. I haven't received any of your issues this year. I need an up-to-date Texas Pack if it's possible and a list of pro bono attorneys in California that practice law in Texas. Please let me know if you received this letter.