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[First Nations] [Religious Repression] [Medical Care] [Political Repression] [Civil Liberties] [Legal] [Connally Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 79]
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Native Religious Rights and Cool Housing Struggles in TX

I’m attacking the “Heat Sensitivity Scoring (HSS).”

We feel that being classified as “Heat Sensitive”, which requires a cool-bed housing assignment, is a medical treatment and a medical diagnosis. A diagnosis that you should be able to choose if you want the “treatment” or not. We have a right to refuse medical treatment but they will not let us opt out of this “classification” and will not explain how this “Heat Score” was calculated.

The best information I’ve gotten on the Cool-bed litigation came from Nell Gaither at the Trans Pride Initiative PO Box 3982, Dallas, TX 75208 (214) 449-1439, tpride.org. She copied and pasted Document 59-2 from Sain v. Collier 4:18-CV-4412 and I had her letter entered in my case. It is a 4 page letter and you can buy it for $0.50 per page from the Clerk in the Western District, Austin Division @ 501 W. 5th St., Suite 1100, Austin, TX 78701.

TDCJ makes First Nation practitioners take a religious knowledge test before they will approve them for a Designated Native American Unit and if you can’t pass the test you can’t meet with clergy or attend ceremonies, etc.

I was shipped off of my Designated Unit and put in High Security in Allred because I was “Heat Sensitive.” SO they denied me of my religion due to my health conditions and wouldn’t tell me I had to re-take the test to re-apply for a Designated Unit (which is unconstitutional). Anyway, what they’re really doing is shipping [lawsuit/paperwork] filers off to high security claiming they are “Heat Sensitive.”

If this happens to others, all they need to do is contact the Chaplain and apply for a transfer to a Designated Unit again. They will have to take the test again as is TDCJ Religious Policy AD-07.30 policy number 09.02(rev3)p.1 &2 and policy 09.02(rev2) Attachment A.

We are looking to do away with this unconstitutional religious discrimination and teach our own religion. TDCJ’s text is based on Lakota religion and there are no Lakota tribes in Texas, so it is difficult to get Native Chaplains willing to teach a religion that is not their own.

People are fired up about ULK 78! I’m going to be ordering all of my grievances to send to TX Prison Reform. Thank you Triumphant of T.E.A.M. O.N.E.! for the good info. I’ve already ordered my grievances, I have 56! You can purchase them from the law library for $0.10 each.

Note to my Connally Unit comrades: As of 1 August 2022, TDCJ will no longer make legal copies, which is fucked up! I’m having to send my original documents through the mail to the court and hope they don’t steal my mail. Warden Rayford has banned inmate-to-inmate legal visits and there is no drinking water in the Law Library and no bathroom breaks. If you need to go to the pisser, your session is over.

No legal copies and legal visits hinders our access to courts, but I suggest sending an I-60 in and getting a denial on paper even if you don’t need a jailhouse lawyer. Then, if you loose your case you can say this was because you didn’t have your “helper.” Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S. 483, 490(1969) says you have a right to get legal help from other prisoners unless the prison “provides some reasonable alternative to assist inmates in the preparation of petitions.” And if they are still retaliating after that, make sure you got a lot of witnesses. It is a federal crime for state actors (the prison officials) to threaten or assault witnesses in federal litigation 18 U.S.C.§1512(a)(2).

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[Religious Repression] [Civil Liberties] [Grievance Process] [Connally Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 78]
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Grievance Tips & New Grooming Policy in TX

In ULK 76 you printed an article by the Connally Committee of Texas T.E.A.M. O.N.E. titled “Connally Unit Denying Grievances & Retaliating”. I cannot vouch for the retaliation from here in High Security, but as for not responding to grievances and being chronically understaffed, I can vouch for.

I filed 2 grievances back in early April and have had zero response to them. I found a good cite in Prison Legal News June 2022 edition. It says, “A prisoner’s administrative remedies are exhausted when prison officials fail to timely respond to a properly filed grievance.” (Haight v. Thompson 763 F. 3d 554 (6th Cir 2014)) According to this, if they do not respond to our grievances we can go on to a §1983 Civil Action.

My suggestion to TEAM ONE here at Connally is to go ahead and file §1983 Lawsuits with hand-written copies of your Step 1’s and try to file a Step 2. But your remedies are exhausted when TDCJ fails to respond to your grievances. They have 40 days to respond to a Step 1 or file an extension. If it has been more than 40 days and you have no answer, your administrative remedies are exhausted. I’m sending a handwritten copy of my Step 1 into the District Court this week. They will file, stamp it and assign it a document number and I’ll use it as evidence in my case.

As far as being understaffed, I can certainly agree with the writers of that article. Every end of the month into the first of the month this place is a ghost town. We are locked in our cells and fed sack lunches.

We did recently win a small victory as far as the grooming policy goes. AD-03.83 & SM-06.16 (Rev5) were updated on 10 May 2022 to allow male prisoners to grow long hair and wear pony tails. There were a lot of §1983 lawsuits pending on this subject. I’m still not totally satisfied with the updated policy because TDCJ reserves the right to force cut our hair for disciplinary reasons and they do not do this to the women. Growing our hair is a religious right, not a privilege to be revoked so I still have it listed in my lawsuit.

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