Censorship at Texas Estelle Unit
This brief letter is not a complaint but only to raise my voice against the injustice I'm experiencing here at the Estelle High Security Unit.
I understand the implications pursuant to Correspondence Rules BP-03.91, of which each out-going and in-coming letter to and from offenders are indeed subject to inspection and if such letter is denied then the offender and the sender will be provided a Correspondence Denial Form within seventy-two hours of rejection. This is designed to go into detail informing the offender of the appropriate cause and the evidence relied upon for this denial, and whether he intends to appeal. If he does not wish to appeal, then he has the choice either to have the letter destroyed or sent back to the sender at the offender's expense. This rule, policy or procedure is not being followed.
As stated, there is no question a uniform procedure for denying out-going and in-coming mail is needed. I don't have a problem with the policy. I have a problem with the process. The BP-03.91 policy is a complete method of procedures, which establish a way of doing things and each procedure shall be related in accordance to policy.
What the mailroom staff (Office of Intelligence) are doing is shifting/switching procedure from one day to the next to cover whatever actions they've taken. In a very plain term, its unfair and totally inappropriate to shift or switch procedures in midstream without giving prior warning to offenders. How can any offender follow rules which constantly change without any notice? Rules, policies and procedures that change without notice confuse me as well as other offenders.
This policy is vague and ambiguous, leaving major openings for misinterpretation and giving unreasonable discretionary power to unit Gang Intelligence Officers that TDCJ-ID has left largely unchecked and unquestioned and untrained in key areas of the policy which, in return, causes animosity towards myself and other offenders. They use these misinterpretations to vastly exaggerate accounts of supposed gang-related information, and to justify denial of out-going mail. When mail is denied it often takes weeks before an offender is notified or if the correspondence is not denied it is sent out weeks later. All this is under the guise of security.
If the G.I. (reader) decides my letter contains dangerous content the letter will automatically be denied. How these readers define such content, and who plays a role in making that determination are questions without clear answers. And while such denials require written notification, in practice that rarely happens.
A review of the process exposes a policy in which sections of the policy either contradict each other or are shifted from one day to the next so that no one is responsible. The mailroom, the G.I. and/or Wing officer or even other offenders have access to our mail. The policy isn't even uniformly applied. These type of standard procedures will continue to exist because the mailroom staff insists on denying out-going mail without providing a written notice and without returning back offender's stamped envelopes.
For over two years on this unit, when out-going mail was denied the offender was informed and his stamped envelopes were confiscated. Only after the mailroom staff became so sloppy that they no longer even passed out any denial forms were there enough questions raised that it was discovered that the offender was supposed to receive his stamped envelope back, how nice! However, if questioned about where the thousands of stolen or wrongly confiscated stamps when to the past two years, there is no answer. In fact, any offender ho dares to ask will be retaliated against. Even when caught, the mailroom staff will deny that their conduct was unlawful in any respect.
Enclosed in this letter are grievance step one and two proof of my effort to remedied the problem but as you can see their response is always the same "...The Estelle Unit mailroom is processing all incoming and outgoing correspondence in accordance to BP-03.91. No further action is warranted..." I have other grievances that consist of the same issues but were handled with the same answer.