Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Wayne Scott Unit - Federal

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. 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.

[National Oppression] [Wayne Scott Unit] [Darrington Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 62]

Forced Prison Labor in Texas: Exposing the Fraudulent Good Time/Work Time Credit Scheme

Reification is a term that refers to using the labor power of the people and in turn using it as a powerful force to keep them under oppression.

The only way Texas can afford to keep 150,000 people imprisoned and continue to give parole “set offs” after they are parole eligible by law is through the use of forced labor to offset operating costs. Theoretically speaking if TDCJ were forced by law to pay prisoner workers through a new supreme court precedent, or if prisoners quit participating in enslaving themselves, parole would be presumptive and automatically granted at first eligibility.

Our freedom is at stake here, friends. That is why this issue is absolutely vital. In Texas, per a 1993 law which was passed in reaction to the 90s crack-cocaine-fueled crime wave, violent or aggravated offenders must serve 1/2 their entire sentence before becoming parole eligible. And often times after decades of dreams, hope, hard labor and good behavior, alas many are given the dreaded “set off.” So much time has elapsed that their momma has died, their support structures have crumbled, and they have become old men in terrible health due to poor diet, unable to gain meaningful employment, dreams are dashed. All their efforts seem totally futile.

It reminds me of the book Animal Farm by George Orwell and how they treat the work horse, Boxer. They push the old work horse to work harder and harder for the revolution, promising him great comforts and retirement benefits one day in the future. However the day comes when he becomes so old and unable to work they send him off to slaughter at the glue factory. TDCJ’s treatment of its prisoners is very analogous to this. When will we wake up?

MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an interesting take on a theme that we hear about constantly from our subscribers in Texas. This writer is saying that if prisoners didn’t help offset the operational costs of their own imprisonment, that TDCJ would be forced to release them because it could no longer afford to keep so many people locked up.

There is a contradiction between the high costs to keep people in prison, and the pressure applied to the criminal injustice system from citizens who want to keep oppressed nations in check. Texas is one of the most racist borderland states and has a very long history of national oppression and white supremacy.(1) The call for harsher sentences coinciding with the crack epidemic is simply a manifestation of this racism. It’s not about fear of violence; it’s about fear of Black violence.

TDCJ certainly would have a harder time financing its prison operations if it actually had to pay prisoners for their labor. But if it started releasing people because of these financial problems, we’d be hearing it from the citizenry. We aren’t sure what lengths the state would go to to appease its white constituency.

In fact, we have also heard countless reports of what TDCJ does when it has “budget problems”: it makes conditions worse for the prisoners by skipping rec time, medical call, and other duties it has to prisoners. We have yet to receive a letter from someone saying that TDCJ has started releasing prisoners due to budget problems.

The battle here isn’t between the prisoners getting paid for labor, and the TDCJ not paying them. The battle is between the interests of the oppressed nations who are housed in TDCJ prisons, with their entire lives stolen from them, and the Amerikkkan nation which has a strong material, social, and cultural interest in keeping these oppressed nations locked up. If that battle manifests in a struggle for work to be paid for in TDCJ, or for TDCJ to honor good time - work time credits in releasing prisoners, then we are all for it. But we can’t lose sight of this bigger contradiction, which is what the entire prisoner labor struggle rests on.

This contradiction has always existed since the beginning of the Amerikan nation, and even prior to that when it was still in development. And it has only been heightened under the Trump presidency. We aim to build our power so that we can overcome the contradiction, in unity with oppressed peoples all over the world. Any struggle for paid prisoner labor should primarily be a struggle to build our internal unity and organizing.

1. Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, by a MIM(Prisons) study group.
[Campaigns] [Censorship] [Legal] [Wayne Scott Unit] [Texas]

Step 1 and Step 2 Grievances on Indigent Mail Campaign

Prisoner filed Step 1 grievance in March 2016:

“I file this grievance against the Texas Board of Criminal Justice’s revision to the TDCJ Correspondence Rules, effective 1st October 2013. This revision restricts indigent prisoners to five one-ounce domestic letters per month and removes all references to the first 60 days that a prisoner is indigent. Prisoners retain their First Amendment right to free speech (i.e. right to be free from unjustified governmental interference with communication). This revised policy violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. It is also contrary to standards established in Guajardo v. Estelle, 580 F.2d 748. Guajardo established that ‘prison furnished postage and stationary to indigent inmates for special and attorney correspondence and give additional letters per week without waiting period but with right to recoup amounts expended during the first 60 days.’ Secondly, in light that general correspondence rules touch on the rights of persons not incarcerated to receive mail, this revision also violates the Constitutional Rights of my friends and family. Finally, there is no legitimate or rational basis (besides administrative convenience) for the increased communication restrictions on indigent prisoners. It is unreasonable, and unrelated to any legitimate interest in security, order or rehabilitation. Thank you for your understanding.”

L. Doyle Sr. Warden Wayne Scott Unit responds:

“Investigation of your complaint has found that Ms. Grays, Law Library Supervisor is adhering to the Access to Courts, ATC-034 (Rev.6). No policy violations notes. No action.”

Prisoner filed Step 2 grievance in March 2016:

“My grievance is against the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, NOT Ms. Gray the Law Library Supervisor the individual. My complaint in Step 1 was not resolved.”

R. Pool, Asst. Program Administrator, Access to Courts, Counsel and Public Officials responds to Step 2 grievance:

“Step 1 has addressed your complaint. The Texas Board of Criminal Justice approved a revision to BP-03.91, Uniform Offender Correspondence Rules, on 08/23/13 that states,”… An indigent offender may use indigent postage to send five (5) one-ounce domestic letters per month to general correspondents and five items per week to legal or special correspondents… Funds expended by the TDCJ for postage and stationary for indigent offender’s shall be recouped by the TDCJ from funds later deposited in the offender’s ITF account.” No further action is warranted.”
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