Abuse in Prison – by Steve McCain

Largely because prisons are closed institutions to which neither the public nor the press nor prisoner rights advocates have access, the abuse that takes place within them exists largely as an unknown. As one might imagine, this fact only exacerbates the danger. It is upon this that I wish to shed light.

Abuse in US prisons is far more dangerous than it appears because little of it appears to be either serious or physical. And while there are episodes of physical abuse, they are – perhaps miraculously – kept to a minimum. “Serious”, however, is oftentimes in the eye of the beholder, and therefore deserves more “serious” consideration. Most of the abuse doled out and experienced in prison is subtle and psychological, rather than obvious and physical, and it is this subtly that allows it to perpetuate, that prevents its victims from crying out, and it is this same subtly that defeats them when they do cry out.

Charles Dickens visited Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary in 1842. Concerning the experience, he later wrote:

“The system is rigid, strict and hopeless… and I believe it to be cruel and wrong… I hold this slow and daily tempering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body.”

A victim will not cry out for fear of being labelled by both their peers and the courts; with derogatory terms by the former, and as a chaser of frivolity by the latter. Many that do cry out suffer a shared fate: Their complaints are labeled “frivolous” by the courts and dismissed on this ground. A singular incident may well appear frivolous, but when combined with other incidents, or influenced by exacerbating factors and continued over extended periods of time, the cummulative effect is anything but “frivolous”.

Consider this:

If someone comes occasionally banging on your door at 11 o’clock at night – or at two o’clock in the morning – you might consider it only a minor annoyance. But what might you consider it when it occurred more nights during the week than not? Would it still be only a minor annoyance, or might it come to present more serious connotations? Consider the following daily schedule:

Rack time (i.e. bedtime) 10:30

Roster count (if asleep, one is 11:00-11:30

woken up more times than not)

Breakfast 2:30-3:30

Morning medication 4:00-6:00

Workers (slaves) called out 4:30-5:00

There are some small variations to this schedule, but this gives a good sense of daily life in prison. Weekends are worse yet, as there is also a roster count at 1:00am and showers are also in the middle of the night. So, at what point does a minor annoyance become something far worse? At what point does it become abuse, or worse yet, torture?

Sleep deprivation is a well known and commonly employed tool of torture – Tyrants do so love their implements of torture – and one that is in continual use throughout the US prison system. Sleep deprivation is a nasty implement of torture, but it is not prison’s only implement. Its is but one tool in a very large toolbox.

Perhaps it is time the courts reconsider what is and is not frivolous.

Perhaps it is time the people took up the torch and forced the issue.

Many believe that prisoners get what they deserve. This is a fallacy, a fantasy. No one deserves what prison does to people. Death would be less cruel and more humane by far. Prison is not the solution to America’s crime problem; it is a primary contributor to it.

The Open Prison Initiative, Part 2 – by Steve McCain

Challenges abound for the captive storyteller, for the public audience is only hesitantly, if at all, receptive. Alas, the public is the prisoner’s biggest skeptic; justly perhaps, but perhaps not. The criminal justice system pulled quite the fanciful trick when it managed to impeach the only voice that could authoritatively witness against it. It has been said that the great trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. Well, in a like manner, the greatest trick the criminal justice system ever pulled was convincing the public that prisoners tell no truths. Oh yes, quite the fanciful trick indeed.

Presented here is not a single voice, not the voice of a lone writer, but a chorus of voices more than two million strong; they are crying out in the night, most too fearful to speak aloud or alone. Their plight begs for the public’s attention; it begs for yours. Listen closely. Do you hear them? They are neither shade nor shadow, neither spectre nor wraith. They are human – our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters – and they are alive. Their lungs pump air; their hearts, blood; and they feel, and they fear, and they hurt. It is difficult to see a defenseless people collapsing under the heavy burden of abuse and not yourself yearn to cry out. Is it not?

This is why opacity is so important to the survival of the prison institution: opacity is the prison’s protector; it prevents the public from seeing the abuse; it prevents the public’s crying out.

Open the prisons to the public. This must be our motto and mantra. These words must drip from our lips every time we speak; they must season our every conversation; they must radiate from our written words. Why? Because transparency is the key to reforming any institution, and prisons are no exception.

Prisoners cannot change the prison insitution alone, no matter how loud they scream (and they are seriously inhibited from screaming at all); they need the public’s help; they need yours. This is why this initiative is so important. As a closed institution, the public audience cannot see prison’s ever present abuses. This point was clearly made in ‘part one’ of this serious. The problem that prison reform advocates and activists face in attracting and securing public support is this: If prison’s abuses cannot be seen – recall that media also is absent – the need to reform them can neither be understood. Transparency places the public proximate to the problems. The preeminance of this cannot be overstated.

Prison policy makers and administrators, with steadfast resolve, declare themselves blameless and declaim against any wrongdoing, but they are equally unwavering in objecting to institutional transparency. Now, when has any actor ever been ashamed of a good performance? State governments object to transparency in the prison institution for two reasons:

  1. They fear public outrage (though they would never admit this), and
  2. They fear federal interference and policing.

At the same time, however, they refuse to adequately police their own operations, and they are loath to yield to the public’s will.

Who’s guarding the guards?

Though the position of prison guard, because of the nature of the prison environment, begs for an education and/or professional training in behavioral psychology, and though a humane prison operation demands it, prison hiring policies do not require it as a prerequisite for unemployment in that position, and the typical applicant does not possess it. The prison system could provide the training as early stage unemployment preparation, but they do not. For this, the prison institution must be held culpable for placing people in positions, and in an environment for which they are wholly unqualified, unprepared, and (for many) unsuited; and for placing them, at least potentially, directly in harm’s way.

Prison is an environment in which a large portion of the population has been diagnosed with some form of mental illness. Prison guards, uneducated, untrained in behavioral psychology, and not knowing how to appropriately respond to inmates with behavioral or other mental disorders, oftentimes become frustrated and angry, and respond to these prisoners not with professional compassion and understanding, but with aggression. And aggression begets aggression.

This is one of the principal problems in the prison environment. Aggression drives and is driven by fear; it is a cycle as perpetual as it is dangerous. This cycle creates a river of stress and tension which flows undamned, it’s current sweeping up all those in its path, prisoner and prison staff alike, and, in so doing, makes the prison environment potentially dangerous for both.

Many of the prison guards, but not all, approach the prisoners by shouting, yelling and screaming at them. This behavior is not absolute, but it is prevalent enough to cause serious problems, problems for which the prisoner has no equitable solution available. The prison staff is accuser, prosecutor, judge, hury and executioner. In a problem resolution, the prisoner has no voice at all. Except in calling for help, when an individual begins to yell, shout and scream at other individuals, those individuals have a tendency themselves to become aggressive and abusive. Recall, aggression begets aggression. Consider how many prison guards are guilty of such behavior: many, if not most. Why is this so? Ah! This is a key question indeed, but it is not necessarily the key question. That question would be, “Why is such behavior tolerated?” But, alas, it is more than merely tolerated; it is fostered.

Cruelty and abuse in the prison environment exist as a viral contagion and at epidemic proportions. These are diseases that have infected every level of every penal facility in operation in the United States; no facility is immune, be it an ICE facility, juvenile detention, Max or Super Max, state or federal prison, county jail, civil commitment facility, or some other. This, if nothing else, is absolute. These diseases have spread throughout the US penal insitutions with the same efficacy as coronavirus has demonstrated in spreading throughout the world, affecting and infecting people at every level, from the newest of corrections officer recruits to the most senior of the ranking officers, prison wardens, and top level administrators alike.

Why do prison staff members, specifically, (but not exclusively) the guard staff, exhibit aggressive and abusive behaviors? It should be noted here that verbal abuse incites anger that all too often assumes physical attributes. In this instance, there is no single answer to the question of ‘why’; there are, however, many variables that hold influence over this question. With a great deal of confidence, it could be said that, as with many other obstriable behavioral patterns, in many areas of life, peer pressure is a pivotal influence. As a young child learns through imitation, so does the newly hired prison guard; as the child imitates to gain acceptance from their social sphere, so does the prison guard from their professional sphere. Prison guards are human, and are no different from others in that they both desire and need to be accepted. So what is the newly hired prison guard to do but imitate what the other prison guards are doing? As peer pressure leads those weak of mind, will, and judgment to abuse drugs, alcohol, and more, so does peer pressure lead people to abuse power: For what is power but the most powerful drug of all.

Why does the managing staff allow and, ultimately, promote such behavior within the prison organization? In this regard, it must be said that climbing prison’s corporate ladder subjects one to not less peer pressure, but to more, which demands the ever increasing abuse of the intoxicated (i.e. power) and, as is true with chemical intoxicants, the intoxicant affects a different people in different ways. That said, being endowed with absolute power over the lives and destinies of other tends to corrupt all but the strongest of mind, will and judgment, all but the most compassionate of benevolent men and women among us. Remember Acton’s Law:

Power corrupts, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.

It should now be considered that many of the most aggressive and abusive prison guards were not corrupted by the prison environment, but, rather, were drawn to it because they themselves have a natural prpensity for aggression and violence, and the prison environment provides a ready stage upon which they can act out their nature (against a defenseless host – this is cowardice) with virtual impunity, under the protective wing of the state.

Completing this dangerous scenario is this: Under the extreme stress of serious or long-term continual abuse, either as a witness, a conductor, or a subject, the brain will anesthetize itself as a means of protection. It does much the same thing in shutting down major pain receptors following serious or traumatic physcial injuries. This anesthetic effect, as psychologically protective as it may be (i.e. it prevents one from being traumatized to the point of dysfunction), is likely what makes the prison environment as perpetually abusive as it is. The prison staff being naturally mean-hearted, or abusive, or uncaring and indifferent is not the greatest concern regarding the prison environment. As true as these things may be, and some undoubtedly are, they are a cornerstone, not the keystone. That would be this: What makes the prison environment so unnecessarily abusive, and what makes a closed prison institution most dangerous is the fact that, under the effects of the brain’s protective anesthesia, those involved in the abuse, either giving or receiving, reach a point where they no longer feel the effects of it. At such a point it is said that they have become desensitized; they live with neither affected feeling nor conscience; the clinical definition of a psychopath.

If I were not continually writing about the abuse in prison; if I were not reminding myself of it daily, hourly even, the effects of it would begin to deminish as my brain began releasing anesthesia. I would slowly lose the realization of the reality of the abuse, and I would no longer be so adversely affected by it. Writing about it continually, as I do, inhibits the brain’s natural protective processes by keeping the reality of the abuse ever present in the forefront of my mind. My disadvantage in this scenario is that it puts my own mental health at risk. My advantage, more important, more important to me by far, is that it enables me, empowers me, to continue telling the world about it.

This is why we need to open the prisons to the public, to the press, and to our advocates. This is why we need The Open Prison Initiative.

Call for Accountability in Response to January 18th “Suicide” at TDCJ Allred Unit

Team One begins this piece by offering our sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Bice and the families of all victims of state negligence and indifference. #PrisonLivesMatter

It was only months ago when the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner issued a statement, noting that prolonged solitary confinement amounts to psychological torture. Be that as it may, that exact form of torture is widely practiced and accepted as the norm in the self-ordained “land of the free”. Solitary confinement in excess of 14 days has been deemed “prolonged” by the UN.

Prisoncrats in the state of Texas falsely assert that they do not hold prisoners in solitary confinement. They make this false claim by not counting their restrictive housing ad-seg populations as solitary. However, such a practice is contrary to UN definitions on exactly what constitutes solitary. The United Nations deems solitary as any confinement where the prisoner is held in isolation for twenty-three hours or more hours a day. As of August 2019, Texas held over 6,500 people under such conditions, illegal conditions, we might add. More than 3,000 of those 6,500+ had been in isolation over a year. More than 650 had been in solitary for a decade or more and 145 had been isolated more than two decades. Because of this clear and continued arrogant disregard for human sanctity we say Governor Greg Abbott, TDCJ director Brian Collier, Allred Unit’s Warden Jimmy Smith and Psych. Staff member Mrs. Cherry are guilty of criminally neglegent homocide for the January 18, 2021 “suicide” of the Allred restrictive housing (RHU) solitary prisoner whom the writers only know by the surname ‘Bice’. We say that the above mentioned perpetrators should be judged by a ‘poor people’s court’, consisting of families who’ve been ravaged and victimized by the genocidal insitution that is prison. If found guilty, the punishment shall be the abolition of the TDCJ institution. We call this justice.

On January 19, a corrections officer McGraw, who found Bice unresponsive, reported to one of the writers that on the day in question, “I escorted Mrs. Cherry to Bice’s door. I heard him tell her three times that he was feeling suicidal. I later learned that he had a history of self-mutilation and suicide attempts. Mrs. Cherry had that information in her file for the inmate, but she still ignored him. She walked away. I did my rounds every 30 minutes, and on one of them I saw his feet peeking on the opposite side of the toilet. I asked was he okay. When he didn’t respond I called it in, but it was too late.”

As we write this piece on February 2nd, Mrs. Cherry is still on duty, a paid representative of the State of Texas and the institutionalized genocide of working class people that is prison.

It is important here to illustrate the conditions which tragically led to Mr. Bice’s death. As stated in TDCJ’s own “restrictive housing plan”, “offenders in extended restrictive housing may develop symptoms of acute anxiety or other mental issues”. Therefore, TDCJ brass clearly understands that the basic conditions of this isolated confinement damages human beings, yet they do not care. We say again – #PrisonLivesMatter!

From late December until January 31st the entire Allred Unit was on a “Covid 19 lockdown”. As we scribe this, captives in general population remain on lockdown, while restrictive housing has been let up. This is in response to Mr. Bice’s death. However, the public should know that the initial lockdown of RHU captives was arbitrary and unnecessary, as pods without any positive tests at all were locked down for over a month. Take into account the fact that we, RHU captives, are already “locked down” not only physcially but intellectually as well. Let’s illustrate further.

TDCJ defies state law, Tx.Gov.Code 501.009, by refusing to allow all inmates the opportunity to take part in mentally/intellectually stimulating programming, which would undoubtedly mitigate some of the pent up “anxiety and other mental issues”. The above government code mandates life skills, job skills, literacy and education classes, parenting, drug rehab, and religious courses for all TDCJ inmates. Of course this law is not being practiced, as RHU prisoners are routinely discriminated against for their/our social and/or political convictions.

Let’s also take into account that RHU prisoners are allowed only minimal phone time – 5 minutes weekly. This minimal amount was only made possible as a concession from the administration in response to a Team One instigated mass hunger strike in July 2020. Although TDCJ has approved both video visitation and prisoner friendly tablets as ways to further exploit the monopoly they have on their captives lives, RHU prisoners are not allowed access to these communication avenues, thereby further exasperating the psychological and emotional anguish that is solitary confinement (RHU) in general, not to mention during a pandemic.

So Mr. Bice, like over 6,500 others held captive in TDCJ’s torture chambers, was left isolated physically, ex-communicated, and intellectually unstimulated. On January 18th he like others on Allred Unit seg/RHU/solitary was held on an arbitrary medical lockdown where out of cell time was non-existent, besides the occasional shower.

Couple these conditions with the unprofessional and incompetent psych/medical staff and it is no wonder that suicides and suicide attempts have been constantly on the rise in recent years. A close look of Mrs. Cherry’s inaction is necessary.

On each RHU pod the admin has designated cell #7 as a “psych cell”. This means that when psych staff such as Mrs. Cherry come around conducting “evaluations” the prisoners in question are to be escorted by security staff to cell #7, where Mrs. Cherry or other psych staff can conduct interviews and evaluations while allowing the prisoner the necessary privacy.

The problem is that this is never practiced. Staff are too lazy, or in their own words “too busy”, to do these escorts. On Janary 18th laziness and incompetence is the only “excuse”, as all Allred inmates were on lockdown and the only activity security staff had to partake in daily for over a month was the serving of food trays.

So here it is, that even if Mr. Bice did not mention feeling suicidal he should have been escorted out of cell and more thoroughly evaluated, per policy.

Furthermore, upon him mentioning suicidal thoughts, Mrs. Cherry was obligated to insure that Mr. Bice was placed on suicide watch, per policy, where in every 24 hours he would’ve undergone subsequent evaluations until his suicidal feelings subsided.

Instead of taking these common sense steps, according to security staff member McGraw, Mrs. Cherry just “walked away”. Again, we say #PrisonLivesMatter!

In closing, We, Texas Team One, a collective of abolitionist and human rights activists ask that the public demand that Mrs. Cherry, Jimmy Smith, Brian Collier and Greg Abbott be held responsible for this preventable death. Further, we say that if the lives of those imprisoned by the state have no value, our families, communities and supporters on the outs should join in on helping us. #FreeEmAll!

“You’re an Anarchist, Mr. Zuniga” – by Comrade Z

Our nation was born in genocide. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or feel remorse for this shameful episode.”

-Martin Luther King

Ideology is TDCJ’s excuse to write bogus cases on me, to close my inmate trust fund, to block access to law library or grievance process. Till this day, officers come to my door and in a semi-compassionate voice say, “You’re an anarchist, Mr. Zuniga. You asked for the mistreatment. You are making us discriminate against you. You are forcing us to hold your meals, supplements and medical. You are forcing us to hold your mail and open privileged mail. You are an anarchist, and that’s why you are being punished. We are above the law. We can lie, torture and slave you by force too, but you’re backed by the Industrial Workers of the World. If we can’t physically or psychologically kill you, we’ll starve you. We won’t allow your family to put money on your books. You won’t have access to the world, as long as I am working on Darrington. You’re an anarchist.”

Anarchism is TDCJ’s reason for attacking me, dicriminating on me, retaliating on me for the past 10 months, and they still haven’t made a dent to anarchism. Solidarity by fellow workers on Darrington has kept me alive, fed and happy. This is the example all fellow workers must display to our oppressors. We stand against prison slavery, guidelines, disgusting living conditions and work conditions. How is it okay for there to be A/C on an 100 year old unit only for administration and unoccupied areas? Why are power outages occuring without storms? Why are people getting sick by drinking our water? Why are officers getting promotions for stacking dead bodies of inmates dying by suicide? I reported Angela Chevalier for 15 suicides in 3 years. Then she gets promoted to Warden. Warden Armstrong gets a slap on the wrist, as if it wasn’t Proud Boy red as it is.

Sugarland 95, your spirit and the spirit of George Floyd (aka Big Floyd) lives on. This is what TDCJ is feeling – the wrath of tortured souls who are hellbent on destroying the oppression that is the Texas slaveholding tradition. If you continue to pretend this is just the way it is, you are handing slavery your very soul. Are you a willing slave? I am willing to stand against this culture of racist mass encarceration. This is the time to take control from the oppressor and give it to the people.

Stand up against bullshit policies. We’ve got your back. Fuck TDCJ. Texas Local Charter-IWOC on Darrington is recruiting members statewide for the sole purpose of giving the workers’ power back to the slave. Fuck pay wages. We want parole! Fuck your commissaries. They are worthless. Fuck your policy. It’s cruel and unusual. It’s disproportionate. It’s bent to serve corruption and capitalist agendas. Nothing is for the community. The $90 million a year industry goes to politicians who turn a blind eye to seriously fucked up building code violations, civil right violations, work related injuries, and contaminated water. Wake up and join us in combating this racist regime called TDCJ.

Write to:

Sam McCabe

PO Box 192

Bellingham, WA 98227

Tell him “Z” sent ya.

Organize, Educate, Emancipate!

2021 is the year of Unconditional Work Stoppage. Everyone who wants to receive their chunk of solidarity, to stand against TDCJ – someone is ready to help.

Long live anarchy!

Solidarity and Sabotage,

TLC-IWOC

Corrupt Oversight: The Causes and Effects of Prison Violence – by Jason Renard Walker

Most people don’t quite relate the causes and effects of prison violence to corruption within its oversight.

The meaning of “prison violence” is often skewed by mainstream corporate media giants, so that when it’s referenced in the public domain, a false image and fear has been distilled into the minds and hearts of Americans that will never step foot into a prison compound, and in the ones that will, that image arrives before they do.

Savages assaulting and raping each other; bloody riots; unjust killings of innocent guards and staff; and any- and everything corresponding, defines the term. But in reality: thugs lacking morals, empathy, self-respect, and/or respect for those around them and in society, is only a microcosm of in-prison violence on a day-to-day basis. The term is a hydra that’s far further reaching.

We can thank government-sponsored television programming for the false images cast on America’s prisons.

Shows like HBO’s “Oz”, which depicted a fictitious prison called Emerald City, as being one where rape, violence, and homosexual activity (whether forced or consensual) was the norm, overlooked by the few guards there. Then there’s the movie “Con Air”, that had violent federal prisoners hijacking an airplane that was being used to transfer them from one prison to the next.

You also have American Me; Blood In Blood Out; Penitentiary and whatnot, all conveying the same false reality that prisons are extremely violent and out of the control of guards working in them, who are in fear themselves.

Even newly-hired guards hold this animus, often strutting around the compound their first few weeks on the job, with attitude and a no-nonsense facade, and cultural bias. An image that quickly diminishes when these “crazed madmen” prove to be just like them, or were incarcerated for petty offenses, due to economical disadvantages. But there are still those few prisoners who meet the status quo image of sexual depravity and psychopathy, yet they are few and far between.

Most guards adapt and become “institutionalized” themselves in a matter of months, i.e. talking in prison code and slang; adopting the eating habits and recipes of prisoners, etc. In one rare instance I observed a white guard inquire on how to be recruited into a white supremacist prison gang. McFarland was fired for unprovoked assaults on Black prisoners.

As one guard, Skyler Tidwell, told me in 2015 during my seven-year stay in administrative segregation (solitary confinement), “the only difference between me and y’all is y’all got caught.” Months later, a rumor spread that he was arrested for attempting to rob a convenience store.

I’ve even witnessed the occasional newly arrived guard or staffer whose only purpose for working at the prison was to prey on any prisoner who had access to cash or funds on the outside. In exchange, the prisoner can get sexual favours, contraband like buck knives, drugs, cellphones and possibly more.

The above-mentioned hands-on examples were during my stay at the Clements Unit in Amarillo, Texas, spanning 2009-2017.

The clarify, the term prison violence can extend to any activity or series of activities in a prison setting that perpetually compromises the life and/or safety of those within its confines. But more often than not, it is only associated with the aggressive actions and behaviors of prisoners. Ultimately granting the (sometimes unprovoked) hostile behavior of rogue guards immunity.

This makes it nearly impossible for a prisoner to be documented as a victim in staff-initiated assaults, since the scope of its reach wasn’t designed to stretch beyond the actions and expressions of a prisoner and into the cesspool of guard misconduct. So long as a guard alleges that he was hit first and used “the minimum amount of force necessary to gain compliance”, the burden shifts to the prisoner, who now has a trumped-up staff assault disciplinary infraction, coupled with injuries and sometimes the destruction of their personal property. Prison violence in its purest form!

In order to get a general understanding of the causes and effects of prison violence, and why violence in prison will remain intact, one has to look beyond the propagation devices imposed by penologists and researched studies, and use critical thinking.

The former tools only implant a bias in people who will support reform, or allow the decadence of a flawed penal system, merely based on what the expert said, just because the expert said so, per se. In such an event, wardens and other bureaucratic employees are interviewed, documents are viewed for statistical analysis – such as cherry-picked use of force reports – and the findings are produced. In no way will guard misconduct reports be used in determining the level of violence in a prison, as opposed to misconduct reports written on the prisoners for the violence they may, or may not have inflicted.

Prisoners aren’t immune from this bias, as they are the subjects of the matter and have the most to worry about, since pride, psychological trickery, self-confidence, size, criminal charges and social status determine who are the victims, and how violent their world is, not a scholar writing their thesis.

For instance, a black prisoner who is 6’5, 250 lb, talks with an urban dialect and has social status within his clique has little to worry about compared to a white prisoner who is small, diminutive, speaks with a proper tone, has never been to prison before and was raised in the suburbs.

Those on the outside looking in have already succumbed to the psychological trickery, since pride, self-confidence, size, criminal charges and social status have given the black prisoner a predatory advantage over the white prisoner.

Thus, within the black prisoner’s clique, it is already “overstood” that in the event the white prisoner tries to “stud up” (stand up for himself), he will get “maxed out”, meaning beaten to a bloody pulp.

In short, a group of over-confident predators are created through a meeting of the minds; hollering ballyhoos and demanding respect, when their lifestyles are everything but respectable.

In the event the white prisoner happens to be a black belt or knows some other advanced combat technique, beats the black belt to the ground and challenges one of the other individuals, their collective confidence individually disappears and confusion spreads among the group – making them prone to being victimized by observers themselves.
Their social status is lost and will never be regained, forcing them to spend their entire prison term engaging in random acts of violence (against hand-picked victims) in an effort to redeem the unredeemable – to turn back in time.

On the other hand, another element exists within the prison setting that is a key contributor to the causes and effects of prison violence – corruption within the hierarchy.

Unlike many other prison spoofs that give the guard a role limited to that of a blind bystander or naif, e.g. sleeping with the keys hanging on a hook by the cell door; allowing a birthday cake to be brought to an inmate with a hacksaw baked into it, etc, inside the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), where I have spent over 12 years as Offender #1532092, there aren’t too many things that slip past the knowledge of guards and staff; besides the abusive treatment imposed on the prisoners by their co-workers and, in many respects the fights between prisoners that are set up by staff themselves.

To believe otherwise is to suggest that a guard who’s put in over 20 years of service, who has never written a report fingering the foul acts of a co-worker during the (off-camera) beating of a prisoner phase of “use of force”, has never seen it happen or participated in it.

In fact, it is within the chain of command where such acts are condoned, promoted, and sometimes enforced. The Warden, Major, Captain, Lieutenant, all the way down to the portable camera operator, have a role in investigating and documenting a use of force. And whether the investigation is handled with integrity, depends on whether the amount of force applied was needed, or solely for the wanton infliction to cause pain or death.
During a use of force, the responding portable camera operator is usually a female, who’s already been given preferential treatment from the shift supervisor, who’s broadly known as being a foul actor. The treatment includes job duties requiring little to no contact with the harsh conditions the operator is responding to. Most of their time is spent around the supervisor doing nothing.

Likewise, the camera operator forms an inclination to record activities in the light
 most favorable to his/her co-workers. It isn’t unusual for a cell extraction team, consisting of five guards dressed in armor, to beat a prisoner, (while falsely yelling “stop resisting!”) while the camera operator only records the wall or the ground; shaking and twisting the camera so that the backs of the guards are all that’s of value. And if something key is accidentally captured, the footage is exploited or overlooked.

Having female camera operators also gives staff the ability to conduct key parts of the use of force with the camera turned off, under the banner that to do otherwise would infringe the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). Like the viewing of injuries, or the denial of viewing them, further beatings and threats of retaliation get buried in the unknown annals of TDCJ’s sordid history. A history only known to those trusted to uphold the law and “correct” those being left to fend for themselves in their care.

“I remained on F-Wing to speak with the offender and explain that the strip search [following my beating] would occur off camera, by a male officer… I stated that this was to prevent any females from viewing the offender in a state of undress,” said Sergeant Sirena White in a use of force report, where I was assaulted by known racist guards: Brandon K. Pollock, Zachary H. Williford, and others, in the Ellis Unit (cameraless) hallway; as black guard Sylvester Glaze Jr. watched, Nov 23 2018.

In reality, it was an unprovoked assault, in a place where all uses of force, in response to “staff assaults” just happen to occur on the night shift. Yet, no effort has been made to install hallway cameras, since the only thing it will prevent is the advancement of assaults on prisoners, and trumped-up staff disciplinary cases.

So in this instance, staff can no longer rely on the statements of co-workers to enforce bogus staff assaults, while doubling back to the same report to counter any complaint made by a prisoner that he was the one assaulted. “At no time did I witness any officers strike offender Walker,” Williford falsely documented in his witness statement. “I went to assist when I saw offender Walker, Jason #1532092 struck [sic] Officer Pollock in the facial area”, Officer Brian Rivas (one of the assaulters) made up in his report.

Little did Williford know, Pollock filled out a report admitting to punching me five times in the face and stomach, while pinning me with a bogus staff assault disciplinary. Little did Pollock know, Williford didn’t get the memo about the bogus staff assault, and would’ve kept his code of silence had Pollock not admitted to assaulting me.

Williford, Pollock, Glaze Jr and disciplinary hearing officer Michael Hill, have since been removed from TDCJ as employees for their roles in the cover-up. A Federal civil rights law suit was filed, and those interested in the outcome see: Jason Renard Walker vs Brandon K. Pollock et al Cause #H-19-4829. The bogus disciplinary was overturned on the step 2 appeal after Ellis Unit warden, Christopher Lacox, tried to uphold it on the initial appeal.

The same warden that attempted to cover up me being injured and assaulted, but failed because Pollock incriminated himself.

Acts like these are sustainable because the world inside prison is a hidden one, concealed behind walls and barb wire fences, inaccessible to the public and sometimes media.

A lot more goes on inside prison besides the false belief that we sit around all day causing problems, lifting weights, preying on the weak and doing “gang stuff”.

There is actually a black market, or economy, where thousands of dollars are made a day through the introduction and sale of drugs, cell phones, weapons and prostitution. With the former and the latter comes gang territory, competition between rivals, robbery and violence.

For one chapstick cap of methamphetamines, the buyer will pay anywhere between $150-$200, depending on a number of factors. A piece of paper the size of an identification card and saturated in liquid K2 goes for $100. A 16 oz size water bottle of homemade liquor runs $300 a piece. A “night in the boom boom room” (sex with a female guard) costs $100 a session. One $20 pre-paid Tracfone costs anywhere from $800-$1,500 depending on availability. Renting one is $50 an hour, etc.

So it’s quite obvious that there’s an interest to not only stave off other competitors, but protect the staff that smuggles the contraband in. In return, the staffer will relay confidential information and documents to their business associate. Documents like incoming and outgoing letters from prisoners to gang intelligence staff; incoming processed grievances that a prisoner sent complaining about their safety and anything that will profile the dealer about the prisoners around him.

It’s also not unusual for a guard to know who the sellers are, relay false information about a prisoner they don’t like to them, and sit back as the accused is attacked for snitching. I’ve personally witnessed several prisoners get severely beaten based on the word of Clements Unit staff, Captain Crystal Turner and Sergeant Crystal Rust, for supposedly getting hidden drugs confiscated. Drug-addicted prisoners lacking funds also have an inclination to raise false allegations to a dealer, then accept a drug payout to attack the innocent prisoner.

The economic structure within prison is a cesspool for violence in itself, as guards involved get an average payment of $5000 each time they bring something in; prisoners involved can use their status for intimidation and control purposes; prisoners buying can feed their drug addiction. So any- and everything that threatens this is weeded out by any means necessary, with little regards to the consequences that may or may not occur.

Early last year, a TDCJ statewide rule was created, designed to prevent the introduction of drugs and cellphones into the prison. Any prisoners being found to be in possession of drugs or cellphones now receive the following punishment: 180 days commissary restriction, 5 years on medium custody status (was 6 months) and criminal charges.

As absurd as this introduction prevention measure is, no rules have been implemented that curb staff’s ability to bring contraband in. All this measure does is round up prisoners engaged in drug ability and dump them off in the same cell block; increasing the level of violence, competition, and the amount of contraband available for sale, in a prison that already rivals drug sales in many ghettos across America.

Jason Renard Walker
#1532092
Boyd Unit
200 Spur 113
Teague, TX
75860-2007

The Citizenship is Sinking – by Kado

Eastham Unit, February 2021

No visitation for almost a year. No regular access to phone calls and we’re on a “security lockdown” while cops go cell block by cell block to tear up our property. Nevermind there’s “quarantined” blocks due to the dreaded Covid. Shingles outbreaks too, which to me has more merit to be cautious about. The fact that these cops are cool with such “cross contamination” just shows that they know as well as I do that the Covid bullshit is just an excuse to handle us. Snow in the forecast means no mailroom staff. It’s astounding how many “laws” these cops break while being enforcers of the Law.

Beyond these walls folks, folks are calling similar shots to the public. Pelosi gets outted getting her hair done , maskless, at a salon she is responsible for just about bankrupting. Biden roams maskless and free along with family on “federal land” the day he mandates otherwise. Cuomo, Lightfoot, democrats, republicans, senator, governor, etc. All the same assholes that put these restrictions on us don’t follow them themselves. Not a single one has missed a payday either, while the “nobodies” lose everything. That is the point.

I used to tell myself, after so much becomes evident, people will fight back. Well if it hasn’t happen by now, then that’s a wrap. It’s gonna be those small pockets of us that resist what’s ahead, and only if we’re able to. Being ready to go that route means the difference between having a shot and being beaten before the tussle starts. I say it has already begun.

Action is already being taken to snuff out any resistance to the future rule of the public. The propaganda machine has just kept everyone distracted. I am in the end result, and helpless if these cops cut my water, my power, my food, everything. They bring that five-man team with gas and riot gear to get me. It’s only a short matter of time with very little resistance before they do as they please. Nobody understands subjugation better than me. Instead of a five-man team out there, it’s the National Guard. They’ve got control of your food, your water, even your power if you’re not prepared. Don’t wait to see if or when they’ll shut it down. Prepare for it, because they have been for a longtime.

The United States of America is a corporation whose jurisdiction is applicable only in the ten mile square parcel of land known as the District of Columbia (Washington DC) and to whatever properties are legally titled to the United States by its registration in the corporate county, state and federal governments that are under military power of the United States and its creditors.

The above mentioned was enacted February 21, 1871 and concerns any who may be ignorant of what’s been afoot for individuals and our “freedoms” since. Are you free? Do you know how far corporate America has come in it’s aim for totalitarian dictatorship since 1871? What it means that Washington DC is being added to the union now? Well, I’m an anarchist and you won’t catch me voting or entertaining political fiascos, participating in statism or similar nonsense. My aim is to topple them or in the least, allow them to implode upon themselves, but to know thy enemy is key to survival. Knowledge of what’s going down is beyond important.

The ball got rolling in 1871. Then, in 1933, that said corporation called in all debts payable in gold only, effectively bankrupting the banks. Individuals who had accounts in gold lost out and received nothing. The banks were reopened by corporate America under “a new system” – dollars. Nothing more than “I owe you” promissory notes. Then in 1935, the Gold Reserve Act made it to be illegal to privately own gold. Debt begins as commonplace.

Anyone whose been alive awhile may be able to tell you social security numbers were “voluntary” at one time. When created, that account info wasn’t mandatory nor supposed to be for identification purposes. Getting a birth certificate also used to be voluntary. It’s also a contract naming you a debtor, not to mention a means of tracking you.

The fact that the corporation of America has been now spent about a full year expending the amassed wealth (by the deception of issuing promissory notes, but getting free labor in return since 1933), while keeping people locked down, scared and unproductive means shit is about to go south for individuals and their “freedoms”.

Scare tactics have kept people disoriented and “shelter in place” keeps them from organizing revolt. Gun laws are being enacted to remove as much possibility of rebellion as possible, while for the past year every nation worldwide uses the same protocol, which tells me all I need to know. This is the gloves coming off and the smooth sort of control going out the window. We’re being conditioned for the new world government, which will be a police state under martial law, where you get what you’re given and do what you’re told. Think that’s far fetched? Well, then you don’t know history. You don’t know how elitists have done exactly such things and can track their wealth back to the bastards who did such acts in the past. “Old Money”, as the term goes.

Monopolies have been set by corporate America on every aspect of life and the means to it. Land, water, labor, even travel! Those bastards charge you, vet you and track you if you try to leave, and lock you up if you don’t pay their fee. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s not freedom. The corporation charges you a fee to hunt food for the table, regulating what you do. You’ll be fined if caught catching rainwater for your home, and meters are now mandated for water wells on privately owned property. Whether growing gardens or raising hens, they control it.

People largely used to farm little, living off the land, and be quite self reliant. Countrysides used to hold plenty of families and communities, but the trade cartel beggared them in their endeavors to make it on their small trade efforts, forcing 90% of them to funnel into cities. Why do you think that is? How many in the cities are conditioned to depend upon the government? The economy? How many would be freezing or hungry, or helpless during a so-called pandemic had they not been herded like cattle to the cities? Did you know it’s a crime to be penniless? Yep – vagrancy is an arrestable offense. It seems these assholes are willing to cram their baking and promissory system down your throat.

All the rats abandon ship as it sinks. The money is being sapped out and redirected while we sit on our hands. Venezuelans saw that same show. They sat on their hands too long. Rise to the occasion.

Solidarity,

Kado

Noah Coffin 01795167

Eastham Unit

2665 Prison Road 1

Lovelady, Texas 75851

Letter from Steve McCain (Eastham Unit) 2/12/21

February 12, 2021

Eastham conducted three unit-wide Covid tests, and turned up positive results at each. Then, they went to random tests for which they chose a random sampling from each housing unit. I believe there was eleven in my dorm chosen in this test, myself included. This naturally drew fewer positive tests because the testing pool was smaller (11 vs. 80 in my dorm). One tested positive and two that had not been included in the test were found positive soon after. Now, they have went one step further. They have made the tests voluntary. To the person not familiar with the prison environment this would not seem like a problem, but a problem it is, and a big problem indeed. We have been on lockdown because of Covid on and off since April of 2020, and it really does get old and wearisome. But what is happening, because of the voluntary participation in the Covid tests, is that the potential volunteers, mostly older prisoners, are being bullied into non-participation by younger, stronger prisoners who are tired of the lockdown condition, and want it to end. This is putting older prisoners at risk, not only of contracting this virus, but also of missing its detection if contracted.

Exacerbating this situation, we are under a shakedown lockdown now, unit wide, whereby all of the housing units and all of the prisoners’ property is being scoured by the very individuals who are responsible for introducing the virus into the prison facility. It only gets worse. According to the cover article in this month’s Prison Legal News (page 14, para. 1) Texas is “one of 10 states that did not include incarcerated people in its (coronavirus vaccine) roll out plan, which was announced in October. Guards were also left out”.

My dorm comes off quarantine on the 16th. We will probably go through shakedown then. Could this be their plan to reduce the prison population? Kill them off? This is what I postulated early on in the pandemic.

In Solidarity,

Steven McCain

Eastham Unit

2665 Prison Road 1

Lovelady, Texas 75851

Anarchy: Weighing In – by K(A)DO

Comrades, what are you doing? What’s actually being done? As anarchist revolutionaries, our endeavor, as a collective whole, is and must be system failure. Not just an aspect of it or one face or the other – the entire thing!

Here I sit in my small, rusted stone and iron kennel catching but glimpses of the “collective efforts” beyond the razor wire. 24-7/365, pushing past 6 years of the tyranny that is solitary confinement and over 10 years of “Texas Justice”. Through it all I’ve been perplexed by 99.9% of anarchist groups that push zines behind enemy lines here. Collaborating, organizing and promoting Statists, Communists and the like, while screaming “Anarchy!” is an oxymoron. It matters not what your system is or what your government is; keep it! I have had my fill of it and, being an anarchist, have absolutely nothing for those who endeavor to govern or rule.

That said and done, this is a call to attention – Anyone out there that are anarchists, or are simply tired of government, cops, dictatorship or law, and would like to know more about what anarchism is, check us out. I stand with my comrades at Mongoose Distro and Fire Ant, as they hold true to what anarchy represents, not to mention they’re solid friends. That they are, no question. More like family to me.

For those about action, tell me, or even ask yourself: in all your efforts, what are you getting done? Protests and such are not nothing, however what does that accomplish toward system failure? Look around you. This system has tighter control, more power over the public and near utter compliance over the people than ever before seen in my 35 years, and with a National Guard post every few miles of major highway, a very real potential to take control with very little resistance. That’s just harsh facts. I’ve seen martial law and it’s a sobering sight.

Some great direct action examples are from my respected and admired green anarchist (RobCat at Fire Ant – I love ya man!) defenders of earth and all the life it holds. These are dedicated, passionate comrades. Lockdowns, tree sits, barricades, as well as protests, facing prison, harm and even death, their direct actions have gotten real results.

Strikes, both work and hunger, seem to be great direction, however lacking the elements of success. The comrades “Lay it down”, refusing to work or eat, sacrificing their bodies for change. What’s missing? Well, it’s kinda like anarchists organizing with statists – different goals, different ideals or direction. As seen with Bobby Sands and those that stood against tyranny, our life means nothing to the system. Self harm is spinning wheels. Work strikes behind the razor wire do not work so well because for every 1 that lays it down, 10 more are willing to work. Different direction, separate goals. A crowd may start with you, but before long…

So, my little rant isn’t about prison directly, although I should say we need better connection. Anarchist to anarchist, my goal here is to brainstorm with you about system failure. For starters, to be free of the system means self reliance and autonomy. That’ll take preparation. Should the nation collapse today, are you prepared? When “Covid-19” stopped 90% of the economy, how did you fare? These are things all of us anarchists must prepare for. Further, fuck numbers. I am quick to stiff arm anyone that’s against that tide. Don’t waste my time if you’re helping promote any organization in their efforts to increase, create or uphold statism or government. Anarchy – that means everything to me. Being ready to exist without economy or society should be step 1. I’ve got plenty to share there, but Texas prison probably let me mail that out. The best prepared today are those comrades who’ve got little homesteads. No machine in sight, no system allowed.

The system is fueled by labor, labor is provided by us. Calling strikes en masse historically merely accomplishes wage reform, tax reform, etc. Pretty much more “system comfort”. Still a system. Removing ourselves fro such systems of oppression as taxes, laws, fences, borders, etc. is the first step on the path to liberation. How do we do it? Well, first off, for as many of us that leave the matrix, there’s a million who won’t, so a system will still exist for a time.. The nail that sticks out gets hammered. That’s wisdom to live by. By “our”, I mean our collective. You can rock that (A) and talk anarchy all day. That doesn’t mean much. Actions do. So let’s tackle that together. Feedback, organizing, being ready for our goal of no government and no system without economic shutdown wouldn’t mean squat to us.

Pop Quiz:

Martial law is in effect. National curfew is enforced and lights, water, phones and all roads are down. National Guard are locking down the city as they set up road blocks from the outside in (Hurricane Rita in 2005 saw Houston locked down tight in 1 hour). What’s your move? Got a route to take? Some place to hole up? Food? Water? Such is why metropolis and urban areas are strategic traps for anarchist revolutionaries.

My thoughts summarized:

Create a network that exists outside of the system, is fully autonomous and able to sustain the entirety of the collective indefinitely and is able to become a ghost in the machine, so to speak. That means on the down-low. The nail that sticks out will get hammered! In my estimate, the system will eventually self destruct, and that’s when being prepared will count. Create spaces now where that system doesn’t touch, where anarchy exists not just in our hearts and minds.

Your thoughts?

Solidarity Forever,

K@DO

Noah Coffin 01795167

Eastham Unit

2665 Prison Road 1

Lovelady, Texas 75851

Speaking Truths – by Comrade Z

Free thinkers, comrades, rebel girls, militants, my subsistence has squarely been because of the unwavering love and support from all of you, which is why this essay will begin with you in mind, to let you all know that I appreciate you. Thank you.

So 2021 has started off with me gaining the upper hand psychologically on the Texas Department of Minimal Justice and reigning terror on their financial empire. As I continue to move in to my next campaign I urge prisoners to educate yourself and learn to stop cooperating with the “no win” policy and tactics applied by TDCJ administration to take “workers’ power” back into the hands of the people. You have to deny a broken system. It has no beneficial function to whole communities and, to be quite frank, to humanity.

Grievance process is moot and law libraries are legal props of plastic state designed bullshit remedies that never receive the attention we need it to. Stop participating with it. Simply stop. This agency will never change its terroristic ways of systematically silencing the proletariat. Advocate, abolitionist or free thinker, gay, straight, black, white, brown red, no one but the agency is winning by you slaving for free, forced to support their hustle in commissaries across the state. Millions of Texans without work, they’ll import wage slaves from Nigeria to do their bidding, all for the mighty dollar. How can we write a grievance on an officer and still lose on disciplinary cases that are flawed as fuck?

Am I supposed to continue to pretend “this is just the way it is”? It’s a stage set by the state to continue to exploit, torture and dehumanize so that our families’ good money goes to bullshit brands of flavorless foods on commissary. When you begin to realize that $80 million a year prison slavery business is beginning to feel the pain of losing, apply more pressure, stop working and watch how Huntsville begins to take your snacks and raising commissary prices.

Pay attention, this is the power you hold. Pay attention to the crack in the fence. It’s decaying, showing you that the illusion they have you believing is not really as powerful as it was. You just have to objectify it. You are born free men, and you have a right to assemble, express and speak about anything that is clearly threatening your livelihood and human rights. Stop accepting what they tell you. Seek the truth. People are physically and intentionally being hid from you through mailrooms to keep you “dumb and broken”. Stop that shit! Wake up!

If you can call, write or have contacts on the outside, make it known that something is off. Something is not right and we need to stop participating with TDCJ all the way until they fix it from the ground up. This shit is killing people, 1 out of every 500, every day. That’s just coronavirus, not to mention officers trying to assault people to scare you out of speaking out. Hey man, they are outnumbered, and weak. So is the government.

People are working to change the Texas constitution that is written by blue-blooded AmeriKKKanz. Texas is majority brown and black, why do we not have a black or female governor? Texas is a racist state, so stop believing that they care. Stop believing the illusion that is TDCJ. Kill it. Now is your chance. Prisoners are being heard and organizing is taking place, but you don’t need to. All you need is to agree that shit is fucked up. It’s not making any sense, but it is making TDCJ cents. As long as you are participating, your family is getting further and further away from you. Now is the time to lay it down. Let it die. No need to get violent. It’s a power you have always had. Now take it. Unconditional work stoppage means no work until parole gets us back to our families and the state of Texas changes all tyrannical forms of criminal justice. You know in your heart that something is wrong. You’re watching the way they move, and in bad times they take from your plates and spike up the prices on our families. How long are you gonna let TDCJ jack your people?

I am in the struggle for you, fighting with my pen everyday, and I am winning. For once, I can honestly say I am in ad.seg. for doing something right, for acting like a rehabilitated person, ready for the world, and started right here on B-Line, Darrington.

Here it is. I’ve come a long fuckin’ way and made these fools look stupid, caught them in lies, exposed their violent actions and corruption. All they could do was G5 me and write bogus cases, but all I did was show everyone “how they use tactics”. I have done all of this to show you how to win. Small sacrifices were made, but I’m proud to be a part of this movement. Now, I played their game just to see how far they’d go. They actually believed that we were living in 1933, which is when this unit was built. Dumbasses forgot that I know it’s an illusion, a stage to psychologically fuck you into submitting to their will. Most of you still harbor that terror in your hearts and this whole time it isn’t even real.

They’ve got no chance at scaring me. Anything they do I turn it into gold and I want this to be how you do your time, with the power of the worker in your hands. Texas is the Wizard of Oz, but I pulled the curtain on historically played out forms of their slavery. Stop playing with this bullshit agency. It’s dead. Demand the impossible and do it at will, collectively, and watch it grow into something beautiful. This TDCJ is obsolete and more harmful to humankind than anything in the world. People like us have made mistakes, but how many times do we have to be punished for our crime? No man, black or brown, should be forced into slavery in Texas, the 7th richest state in AmerKKKa. Now, your politicians in congress are changing the rules of government to keep you feeding their families. How much longer are you going to play nice with the ones breaking your families’ hearts and minds?

This is my call to solidarity. All men and women in TDCJ, all of you stop participating, with medical, commissary, with free labor, with grievance, law library. Fuck TDCJ. Go to your families and tell them you are done. Let the people come in with media and TV and inform them that we want parole to take over now and release those who have done their halfway point. Demand whatever you want. Just stop allowing TDCJ to have power over you. Break the system now and we will never have to worry about this shit no more! Unconditional Work Stoppage is to ensure that the TDCJ enter its financial collapse. This is what needs to happen to stop Texecution, prison slavery, solitary confinement, to stop the “no win campaign” against Texas prisoners. This shit is not working in 2021 and we need to make sure it doesn’t harm any more families. End TDCJ now! No work until the State of Texas creates humanitarian forms of criminal justice. Equality and emancipation is at your fingertips. Stop thinking about TDCJ. They can’t help you. They are not here to help you, but to rape you of all humanity. Stop that shit!

Pay attention, focus on what the people are saying. They are wanting us to end this agency by stopping the machines that enslave us by force. Fuck that shit. Unconditional Work Stoppage is the reason I am in ad.seg. but they can’t lock us all up. Even if they do, it’s only going to help the financial collapse move faster. So get on board, kill TDCJ once and for all. Demand the impossible, now, because it is possible now.

This is Comrade Z, Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee – Texas Branch. Send support and love to us on KPFT.org The Prison Show and stay tuned for a future IWW-IWOC show under construction.

For True Liberation,

Z