Telford Unit Prisoners suffer heat exhaustion: Denied medical care, access to cold water, and staff negligence

By Jason Renard Walker
Originaly published on Incarcerated Worker Organizing Committee (IWOC)’s site, July 18, 2018

Since 2011, at least twelve Texas prisoners have died from heat stroke, which was a result of the sweltering temperatures inside buildings, dorms, day rooms and the cells where prisoners live.

Hundreds more have suffered heat-related illnesses, many of whom were among the elderly and disabled inmates housed at the Wallace Pack Unit. This does not include prisoners who didn’t report their injuries or those who attempted to treat themselves.

The Pack Unit is a medical and geriatric prison where the indoor prisoner housing areas are not climate-controlled with air conditioning. Prisons like this cause a spike in heat-related injuries because the apparent temperature routinely exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit inside the housing areas. This is a state-wide problem, not just a Pack Unit one.

In 2011, Prisoner Keith Cole and others filed a 1983 Class Action under the 8th Amendment for cruel and unusual punishment and other heat-related violations. In 2017, Judge Keith Ellison granted Cole a preliminary injunction that ordered TDCJ to move all heat-sensitive prisoners from the Pack Unit to one of the few units that had adequate air conditioning to accommodate them. When the heat cooled, they would be moved back – over and over, until the problem is resolved.

But, like the lawsuit explained, all prisoners are likely to suffer heat-related injuries and deaths from these particular conditions, which opens up a Pandora’s Box for subsequent lawsuits.

Now TDCJ has a state-wide policy called Respite Training and Education. It is supposed to alert staff to how prisoners can access respite areas. In part, it says:

* inmates are allowed to access respite 24/7;
* 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 to any correctional officer;
* if there are problems, ask to talk to a ranking correctional officer.

In fact, officials aren’t complying with this order, and have implemented a very crafty punishment program for prisoners who insist on protesting about being denied access to respite.

Most notably, on May 27th 2018, Officer Phillips, a black female who often brags about being the administration’s lapdog, made several prisoners strip out of their clothing and stand in the 3 Building’s hallway. She was the desk officer for that day. The reason was that these prisoners had complained of being hot, and others didn’t have their shirts tucked in. This was being done while prisoners were passing by going to dinner, and as another officer watched with a smile. I was a victim of this at one point myself.

A so-called legal eagle prisoner pretended to help the victims of this, but he turned out to be a servant of Phillips. I heard him tell Phillips to watch out, that plans be were being made to get her disciplined. She admitted to the lackey that her actions were retaliatory, and because “they wouldn’t shut the hell up.”

Such efforts to coerce prisoners who request respite are widespread, and prisoners are often prevented from actually getting access to respite areas. Denied commissary purchases, threats of cell shakedowns, and disciplinary cases are the usual scare tactics. These methods have been very effective: prisoners are willing to sweat in the day room and suffer heat exhaustion rather than face cruel and unusual punishment. Indeed, this situation alone is cruel and unusual punishment.

On July 24th, 2015, Deputy Director Robert Erison authorized a TDCJ state-wide memo to all TDCJ wardens and regional directors, ordering all wardens to make air-conditioned respite areas available. This included posting notices saying where these areas are located, and allowing staff and prisoners to use them as needed.

But, like at the Telford Unit, Pack Unit prisoners feel threatened just asking for a place to cool down. “I’ve only ever tried to use an area listed on TDCJ’s ‘notice to offenders’ once, and that was a bad experience”, said plaintiff Fred Wallace, in a declaration he wrote to the courts.

The Pack Unit’s warden, Roberto Herrera, investigated prisoners’ claims of being denied access to respite areas, and learned that many were denied for no reason at all, and others were handled unprofessionally.

These acts towards heat-exhausted prisoners in search of respite are devoid of logic or reason. No legitimate penological or institutional objective is furthered by this deliberate indifference. Since most prisoners don’t grieve this, these acts are seen as normal by staff and other prisoners, and so these practices remain ongoing.

On July 2nd 2018, during one of the hottest days thus far, Officer Jessica N. Castro not only denied prisoners who asked for respite; she doubled back and wrote disciplinary cases on prisoners for taking their sweat-saturated shirts off, and standing by the open window on the dayroom stairwell. The rule book says we can’t take our shirts off in the dayroom or stand on the stairwell; it also says we can access respite 24/7. Who was wrong in this instance?

Castro spent her entire shift going from one pod section to the next, writing prisoners up for the exact same thing. She showed little regard for her own health and safety, constantly entering the cellblocks, which caused her entire uniform and face to be drenched in sweat after just a few minutes.

Most officers minimize the frequency and length of their visits to the cellblocks due to the humidity. They are most often seen when they come to retrieve a sweaty shirtless prisoner’s ID card to write them a case. They enter the cellblock dry and leave looking like they’ve had water thrown on them. The smarter guards won’t enter the cellblock, but have the prisoners slide their ID under the door.

Since it’s summer vacation, and the warden closed down the craft shop for political reasons, prisoners aren’t in school where there’s air conditioning, and the craft shop can’t be used as a respite area.

Inside the dayrooms, heat pours in from the open windows, while the exhaust vent pumps out the stale heat, so hot air is perpetually circulating. The dayroom water fountain doesn’t work, the bathroom sink’s cold water is broken, only giving us access to lukewarm water. The water cooler, which is supposed to have ice water in it 24/7, is normally empty, and only gets refilled two or three times a day. This is to support forty-eight prisoners. Debris is frequently found in it.

TDCJ standards require that each prisoner drink at least two gallons of water per day, but the water cooler couldn’t possibly be filled up enough to meet this standard. To top this off, we are only allowed to purchase twelve 16.9 ounce bottles of water from commissary every two weeks. These bottles only hold enough for two days, three at the most. They are considered emergency items. Readers, please demand that we get multiple special water purchases.

Dropping like flies in the summer heat

To avoid public scrutiny and accountability, officers and medical staff devise ways to misdiagnose heat-related injuries, so that their severity is hidden before they are documented in medical records.

On July 3rd, 2018, two prisoners were hauled to the infirmary for what were called “heat strokes”. At 2:20 PM, a call over the officer radio to all stations stated that a prisoner on 4 Building, F-Pod, had passed out from a “heat stroke”, and was unresponsive. Five minutes later, the same caller stated the the prisoner was responsive with a wet towel on his neck, and that it wasn’t a heat stroke; she didn’t state what the new diagnosis was.

Despite having no competent medical judgement, she or someone else diagnosed the injuries, changed the diagnosis, then had the prisoner walk to the infirmary in the heat, even though medical had said they were en route with a gurney. At 2:31PM, I watched from the law library as an old red-headed female nurse and a heavy-set old male nurse met with the prisoner, who was being escorted by a black female officer named “Garner” or “Garland”. This black prisoner was walked into the infirmary an hour after a white- or hispanic-looking prisoner was sent there on a gurney. Both had sweaty bodies and clothing. Both had the same initial diagnosis.

A prisoner living in 4 Building who wants to remain anonymous stated that “rank said medical can’t put the word ‘heat’ or ‘stroke’ on paper cause they gonna get sued.” This coincides with me hearing the guard on the radio change the diagnosis. And why they had the obviously heat-exhausted prisoner walk to the infirmary. The institution’s Rule #1 is that if it isn’t on paper, it didn’t happen. On July 6th, 2018, another prisoner dropped.

There are other cases of inappropriate denial of medical care and respite. On July 3rd, 2018, I returned from the law library, and was denied the opportunity to go into my cell, even though the pod officer was letting other prisoners do so. The white female guard told me that she wasn’t going to go to the third tier, where I stay, because it makes her “sweaty and dizzy”.

I was forced to sit the in the dayroom for over two hours. During the first thirty minutes, I became heat-exhausted, so I tried to contact the pod officer. I was told to shut up and sit down. I contacted Officer Michelle R. Lafayette, who was working in the guard tower that watched over the three pod section and controlling the doors. I’m in A-Pod, 2 Section.

I asked if I could access a respite area to cool down and get some water, since the water cooler was empty. “A re-what?” she laughed over the intercom. “We don’t do that here”, she said, before cutting off the intercom.

I spent over an hour trying to get her and the other pod guard to notify medical staff or ranking staff, because I began to feel dizzy. Efforts to go in my cell, which has a fan, were maliciously denied. Lafayette told me that she was giving me a direct order to get away from the door and the intercom. If I didn’t, I would receive three cases, she said, for failing to obey a direct order; for being out of place (we can’t loiter by the door or intercom); and the third for asking for water – which she claimed is the same as begging her to bring in drugs. No respite or medical care was provided.

Heaven and hell’s kitchen

During lunch and dinner in the dining rooms is no different than in the living areas. These “chow halls” are twice as small as the day room, but hold a lot more people, often being at full capacity thirty minutes at a time. They contain no air conditioning, and the hot air circulates just like in the dayrooms.

More often than not, the soupy flavorless meals are piping hot, coupled with a complete lack of anything to drink. When drinks are there, they are lukewarm, and rarely contain ice.

After prisoners are done eating, they are forced to wait in a single-file or double-file line, sometimes for twenty minutes, until the exit door is opened by Sgt. Huff. This lifeless control freak closes the exit and entrance doors, so that comers and goers are at his mercy entering and exiting the chow halls. When he’s not around, they remain open or are closed briefly. If any prisoners that dare to beat on the door or beg him to open it, he subjects us to a longer wait. “Keep beating on the door and I won’t open it”, he says. Even officers in the chow hall suffer, and are only bowing down to their supervisor. Sweaty shirts and faces gleam everywhere.

The Officers’ Dining Room (ODR), which is built and looks like the chow halls, is a complete contrast. This ODR has top-of-the line air-conditioning, table cloths, chairs, ice-cold beverages, a wide variety of “solid food” choices, adequate lighting, and is always swept and cleaned by prisoners.

Such conditions in the chow hall don’t exist, and one would be lucky to be assigned to a table that is at least half-wiped. In fact, the ODR is one of the places TDCJ lists as a respite area.

Experts and the courts say this is unconstitutional

Even thought the Cole v. Collier class action suit focuses on the Pack Unit, many of the conditions that create heat stroke-threatening temperatures inside the cell blocks are the same everywhere, if not worse.

Dr McGeehin, a lead scientist for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with other expert witnesses, testifies that the most proven effective method for reducing heat exhaustion is adequate air conditioning.

In fact, ice water, cold showers, breeze fans, and industrial blow fans in the day room, have proven ineffective in temperatures over 95 degrees, and serve as a short term measure only, according to expert witnesses.

Fans are proven to only circulate the heat that’s drawn in from open windows and ventilation, which can increase heat exhaustion by drying out the skin.

TDCJ claims that providing adequate air conditioning to prisoners is costly and would compromise an already decreased budget. But experts calculated that TDCJ can provide enough air conditioning, not only to the Pack Unit, but other units. It is TDCJ who installed air conditioning units in the slaughter hog barns because they wanted the pigs to live comfortably. It had nothing to do with its meat being less nutritious.

TDCJ also tried to claim that the respite areas can offset the need for air conditioning units, but it’s already been proven in the Cole v. Collier suit that respite areas aren’t always accessible; can accommodate all prisoners; and that many times prisoners are denied access.

They even had Dr Means, a defendant in related prisoner wrongful-death cases, get on the stand and try to persuade the judge that air conditioning isn’t effective. She was viewed as incredible by the judge, who commented “on the stand, she was unable to directly answer most of the questions by Plaintiffs’ counsel, and was even nonresponsive to questions posed by this Court.” (See Document 473, Memorandum Order).

It was exposed by the courts that TDCJ failed to provide each unit living area with air conditioning, and that this was done for “political and financial reasons”. And that by doing this, they were deliberately indifferent, and subjecting prisoners to unnecessary “cruel and unusual punishment”. The State of Texas requires county jails to keep indoor temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees (see Title 37 Texas Administrative Code, 259.160). This is because, when it’s 98 degrees outside, it can easily get up to 110 degrees inside places that lack adequate air conditioning.

The Telford Unit is one of those places. Unit Warden Garth Parker is responsible for ensuring that constitutional conditions of confinement exist at the Telford Unit. He won’t move to change these conditions until he’s faced with public scrutiny, enquiries, and protest. Something that he doesn’t expect to happen, something that needs to happen.

Readers, please call Warden Parker at the Telford Unit (903-628-3171), and demand that he investigate and remedy the situation where prisoners are denied access to respite, medical care, and the lack of oversight that Cpt. Beard, Warden Townsend, Warden Aisebrook, and Medical Supervisor R. Burreson are providing to ensure these needs are met.

Dare to struggle, dare to win, all power to the people!

Jason Renard Walker, #1532092
Telford Unit
3899 Hwy 98
New Boston, TX 75570

Note:
All references from the Pack Unit, the Cole v. Collier suit, and any mention of expert witnesses are drawn from 14-1698 – Cole et al v. Collier et al, Court Documents #38, #174, #473, #629.

Note:
This article was originally censored by the mailroom, on the grounds that the original version of the article mentioned Jason’s affiliation with the New Afrikan Black Panther Party in the byline. Telford mailroom staff claim that any mention of the words “Black Panther” counts as gang activity, and this censorship comes in the context of what seems to be a co-ordinated clampdown on NABPP members across Texas.
Readers are encouraged to contact the TDCJ Ombudsman at ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov, as well as the Telford Unit’s management at 903-628-3171 and garth.parker@tdcj.texas.gov, to request that they cease the campaign of harassment and retaliation against Jason, and provide all inmates with adequate relief from the extreme heat. Let them know that we’re looking out for Jason and will hold the prison accountable if anything happens to him!

Letters to Jason at Jason Renard Walker, #1532092, Telford Unit, 3899 Hwy 98, New Boston, TX 75570, will also help to break down his sense of isolation and show the administration that there are people watching out for him, but as mentioned above, be aware that his mail is undergoing heavy censorship.

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Letter to Texas DCJ about a Prisoner in dire need of medical care

Sir,
This concerns inmate Jeffrey Thomas #1392641, who is being held at McConnell Unit. He has been suffering – progressively – from an unbelievably painful hernia for over 3 years and is in dire need of a proper hernia operation – as soon as possible – before he dies.

Please see to it that Mr Thomas receive adequate medical care IMMEDIATELY, by having him examined and treated by an outside hospital. He also needs mental healthcare and he needs to be in a unit where his medical needs are met, including his level of feeling safe.

His healthcare is your responsibility, and so is his death, if he should die of neglected or inadequate medical care on your guard. Remember the lives in your hands, to care for them as well as you personally possibly can.
In hopes you are hearing our pleas for our brother Jeffrey.

Sent to:
tbcj@tdcj.texas.gov (The Chair of the (TBCJ) Texas Board of Criminal Justice, Dale Wainwright)
exec.services@tdcj.state.tx.us (TDCJ Director Bryan Collier)
ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov
Philip.Sifuentes@tdcj.texas.gov (Senior Warden)
Billy.Hirsch@tdcj.texas.gov (CI Division Deputy Director)
Miguel.Martinez@tdcj.texas.gov (Regional Director: Miguel Martinez, Region IV)

Solidarity with the Hunger Strikers at the Alred Unit in Iowa Park – Texas

Comrade Malik in Texas stands in Solidarity with the Hunger Strikers at the Alred Unit in Iowa Park, Texas

By Keith ‘Malik’ Washington

Revolutionary Greetings Comrades!

There is a hunger strike going on right now at the Alred-Ad-Seg Unit which is located in Iowa Park, Texas. There is a High Security Unit in Iowa Park, Texas and my comrade and fellow IWOC member Xinachtili also known as Alvaro Luna Hernandez is housed there.

A lot of prisoners are on hunger strike in protest of the cruel and inhumane conditions which have been allowed to be visited upon the prisoners in the Ad-Seg Unit.

The key issues are:

  • Lack of opportunities to go to Outside Recreation.
  • Cold food being served every meal at the Ad-Seg/High Security Unit.

There has been rumors of physical abuse but I will let Xinachtli provide more in-depth details as he is housed there and I am not.

There are a lot of similar problems here at Eastham Ad-Seg and some of the common denominators which allow these problems to continue are:

  • Serious Shortages of Staff all over TDCJ
  • Lack of funds to make repairs on anything
  • Deliberate Indifference and Abuse by uncaring Staff at Alred!

The 85th Texas Legislature which convened in 2017 approved a massive multi-million dollar cut to the budget of the Texas Department of Criminal INJustice. I believe the amount was close to $212 million give or take. There have been numerous unintended consequences as a result of these cut backs—staff shortages is just one.

We have also seen an inordinate amount of prisoner deaths as a result of subpar medical care given by employees of the University of Texas Medical Branch whose headquarters is in Galveston, Texas and I believe the President of the Corrupt UTMB organization is a man named Dr. David Callender.

One issue that I’d like to bring to your attention is that prisoners who are housed in Ad-Seg all over Ad-Seg but especially at the Alred Unit are more vulnerable to abuse by TDCJ prison employees because they are more isolated from the general public, the Media and Their FAMILIES!!

Hunger Striking is the last ditch effort to have their grievances heard. This is a cry for HELP! We cannot ignore them.

My name is Keith ‘Malik’ Washington and I am a Human Rights Activist.
Please aid me in drawing attention to this serious situation.

Keith ‘Malik’ Washington is a co-founder and chief spokespersyn for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement, a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and he is the Deputy Chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter). Malik has been instrumental in calling for the abolition of legalized slavery in Amerika and is very active in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign.
You can view his work at comrademalik.com or you can write him directly at:

Keith ‘Comrade Malik’ Washington
TDC #1487958
Eastham Unit
2665 Prison Rd. #1
Lovelady, Texas 75851

Sacrificing Self: Activism Beyond the Wall

By Comrade Kado, Eastham Unit, Texas

Photo of Comrade Kado

Comrade Kado, who has been receiving retaliation for reporting human rights abuses in a Texas prison

Received: Dec. 18, 2017 and on Dec. 29th via email from recipient of his letter.

In the “care” and custody of prison nation’s notoriously cruel southern giant – Texas – one might question how so bad a circumstance could become worse… As an activist for human rights and prison abolition, housed in solitary confinement, you may consider that this is as bad as it gets.

Before picking up this pen and typing paper in pursuance of liberation for the human people bound, abused, and silenced by the oppressors of a corrupt nation – I safeguarded as best I could against retaliation. I had zero cases for any type of misconduct in a number of years, so [I] made this point known of misconduct in a number of years, so made this point known and clear. A very dedicated contact, and supporter in this – the revolution – even had the governor Greg Abbott request an inquiry of my disciplinary history. This [was] done because of how activists seem to “suddenly” get cases and thus receive very restrictive, repressive and oppressive custody levels. For a time this seemed sufficient to combat the silencing tactics used [to] lash out at me for [my] voice, my struggle… of course I had to endure such problematic issues as: mail being withheld going outside or coming to me, sudden moves to housing that is close proximity with violently disruptive prisoners, and even having my property and family addresses “mistakenly” into another offenders’ cell, along with property taken without receiving confiscation papers during annual lock down… I endured those things and considered them merely part of this struggle.

Current events I bring to you now are to expose the actions and lengths the oppressors go to.

Ad. Seg. is a very effective tool to pick apart any targeted “offender.” Separated, isolated with no witnesses beyond the officers and staff. Every action is not random and has purpose. Once a weakness presents itself it is capitalized upon. I bring this to the attention of you comrades, not for the purpose of discouragement, nor sympathy… Simply for you to know the opposition, to know what to prepare for.

Recently I received a Jpay email that my grandmother was in final stages of colon cancer. The doctors gave her a week. In Seg., only 5-minute calls are permitted upon request every 90 days (if offenders are case-free). As it had not been 90 days since my last call, I needed to request an emergency call. This is done for deaths in the family or similar circumstances. I spoke to each shift sergeant I saw. Everyone promised to let me say goodbye to the loved one I would never see or speak to again… As days ticked by and I paced that cell, people were pulled on my line building for calls only to stop right before my cell and feign some problem or another. This, of course, had me in a state of desperate anticipation – a desired effect… A man in an already agonizing state is expected to break or lash out when he is agitated further (i.e. losing mail, antagonizing, denial of recreation, cold or small portioned food trays adding hunger to the state of hurt… It goes on and on – it also works).

Around the tenth day I stopped a C.O. named “Skaggs” while he was doing phone calls and asked him to just look at the jpay email. After seeing that there had been so much time past the week my grandmother was given left, and also that those sergeants I spoke to still did not have me on the list for call, he took the Jpay email down to the office himself to see what he could do. He came back and took me to call. Skaggs also had to listen to my call (they do that for Seg). My mother answered while in the funeral home – Grandma passed and Mom was so overcome with emotion she was unable to speak… [had I] been given such a notice that I had plenty of time to say my goodbye…

C.O. Skaggs was very compassionate and since my mom was hysterical and unable to talk due to being in the funeral home – he told me to let my mother know I would call that following day between 7pm and 8pm.

No call was given. Two days crawled by – no doubt with my mother, who also had failing health, worried senseless about me or why I never called back… Skaggs returned to my cell front to apologize and let me know that “Higher up” reprimanded him for what he did and that I had to take it up with his superiors. No call was ever given.

By now it is known by the oppressors that I am in a bad state of mind on top of being in solitary – time to ply their trade: my mail is held ridiculously long periods of time, more “shake downs” of my cell, cold food… Then a suicide occurs and another liver failure which I expose, and the “big guns” come out: The day following my exposure of a young man’s suicide, (see “Dropping Like Flies”) I am approached by a female sergeant at my cell front close to ten-o’clock night-time and asked my statement on a bogus case. A case alleging I committed an offense in public at 9pm that night. Then I am ordered to strip out of my clothes, put on only boxer shorts, submit to restraints and go to level 2 without my property, without due process…

I am now housed surrounded by screaming, raving offenders who are the poor souls that have long ago lost themselves to the cruelty, the oppression and torture of TDCJ. Now they themselves are used as tools of torment… no way to find sleep, the smell of fecal matter, urine and bodies unwashed for mont… this is how Texas fights activism, this is Texas Justice. I am not to be broken, I have been lucky to land here… the terrible cruelties that I witness here will find a voice to the people who make the struggle possible. I worry that my health is at risk, and if I fall silent, it may be that they have stopped mail, or taken a step further…

I have gotten word Comrade Malik is very sick. (Following the triumph in federal court?) Please follow up on his condition and care under TDCJ custody – mine also. Today I had to stop every officer working, sergeant “Brown” still was left, for close to 4 hours dealing with chest pain and dizziness before being escorted to medical where my blood pressure was in the red! None of my medication was brought to my new cell. My concerns for my health and safety are very real, these people aren’t happy – looks like I’m doing my job. Struggle not and you are but a slave!

Revolutionaries, you are the voice to protest and with a great love for the people and mighty rage against oppression I shall struggle until I’m free or dead. Fight the power! Fight for freedom! Fight toxic prisons!!

Comrade Kado

Please contact me with any letters of support, news of the struggle or simple words in solidarity. If you email me & desire a response, leave your snail mail address please.

Email at: www.jpay.com (Noah Jack Coffin #1795167)

Mail:
Noah Coffin #1795167
2665 Prison Rd #1
Lovelady, TX 75851


Read more stories by Comrade Kado:

Cold disregard: Texas prison guards and University of Texas medical staff ignore excruciatingly painful spider bite (Dec. 15, 2017)

The condemnable and the condemned: To live and die in Texas prisons (with Comrade Malik, Sept. 16, 2017)

Exploited, abused, neglected: Mental illness and solitary confinement in Texas prisons (with Comrade Malik, July 18, 2017)

My nextdoor neighbor Ben committed suicide in Eastham Unit-Texas

Received from Comrade Malik in Texas:

Greetings Everyone! I’m very sad to report that my nextdoor neighbor Benjamin LaRue, AKA “Ben” committed suicide last night here at Eastham. Ben was a very young white male 24 or 25 years old. He only had a 3 year sentence!! And now he is gone. Needless to say, I am very upset because I saw the signs of depression and I failed to Act. He just had a visit yesterday!! I thought he was OK. I was wrong.

The officer on duty was not doing his security checks! I will be writing a detailed essay about this death. Once again, I am pleading for a visit. I need to talk to someone who really cares about humyn beings. These people neglected Ben. They knew he was troubled (mentally ill). They ignored him!! No matter what T.D.C.J. says, Ad-seg is still as form of solitary confinement and it is no place for anyone but especially for those who have been diagnosed with mental illness!!

Eastham Ad-seg unit is a Torture & Abuse camp! Although I may sound upset, I am strong and my resolve to expose and fight against abuse & injustice is strengthened.

His name was Benjamin LaRue and his life mattered!!

In Solidarity,

Malik
(Nov 18 2017)
Malik can be reached via Jpay.com (search for: Keith Washington, Texas TDCJ nr: 1487958 or by writing him to:

Keith Malik Washington, TDC# 1487958
Eastham Unit
2665 Prison Road 1
Lovelady, Texas 75851

Here is a poem Malik wrote that he dedicated to Benjamin LaRue:

 

Bad Karma

By Keith ‘Comrade Malik’ Washington

 You were vested with authority in order to oversee and care for those whose lives had become a bust.

Instead of sustenance and care you traumatized, degradd, and dehumanized your charges, blatantly violating the public’s trust.

For years I observed you—patiently I waited behind the scenes.

You grew arrogant and cocky—puffed up with pride—thinking it was ok to mistreat society’s throw-aways and discarded humyn beings.

When the vulnerable cried out for Justice—you cleaned up the crime scenes and pretended as if the deaths were accidents, always claiming the Agency did no wrong.

We let you get away and as a result you became very confident that weak indigent prisoners could never overcome the strong.

But perceptions of the oppressors are just subjective feelings not always based on FACT.

Your crimes have caught up with you now and No Power in this world can ever Hold us Back!

Did you really believe you’d get away after hurting all these innocent people?
No recompense, no pay back, totally scot-free??

Not so fast STATE of Texas I have something very special for the media and the public to see!!

What you dished out will be given back in dividends—10 times worse in the END.

My name is BAD Karma and I’m definitely not your friend.

Remember the elderly and disabled at Estelle you allowed them to be beat-I was there.

Remember when we asked Senator Whitmire to intervene—he said he didn’t CARE!

Remember when we asked if the water at Pack I was poison—you said it was ok.

Remember the suicides which were actually murders—you took our sons, brothers, husbands, fathers brutally away!

Well, all those things are catching up with you Gregg; are you ready, it is now Judgement Day.

I won’t announce when I’m coming bust surely I will Arrive.

I’m Bad Karma; isn’t Destiny Great? don’t you feel blessed to be Alive?

Well it’s over—you’ve been found out—you most certainly did nothing great.

I’m Bad Karma, here to show the world what happens to Government officials who make a living sowing seeds of HATE!

 This poem is dedicated to Benjamin LaRue, a mentally ill prisoner and friend of Malik who recently was found dead in his cell at the Eastham Ad-seg unit in Lovelady Texas

Prisoner Lives Matter Too – But Not In Texas!

By Keith “Malik” Washington

“To cooperate passively with an unjust system makes the oppressed as evil as the oppressor.” – Dr Martin Luther King Jr

Peace & Blessings Sisters and Brothers!

This month of October 2017 marks the 10th year that I have been incarcerated inside prisons and jails operated and maintained by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Many things have changed in those ten years, but many things have stayed the same. The “lock ’em up and throw away the key” philosophy is still prevalent in the state of Texas. I watched closely as prisoner rights advocate Jennifer Erschabek fought passionately to reform the broken parole system in Texas. The Texas legislature has no desire or will to change the system. Texas State Representative Senfronia Thompson, a Democrat from Houston, Texas, agreed with Ms Erschabek that the parole system needed reforming, and she authored a bill, HB2120 that would have given more prisoners in Texas a realistic chance of freedom. The bill died in committee.

In Texas, prisoner lives don’t matter, and nothing illustrates this point better than the decision by the Federal Government to abandon over 2000 prisoners at the Federal Prison Complex in Beaumont during Hurricane Harvey. My friend, journalist Candice Bernd of Truth-Out, wrote a heart-wrenching piece which detailed the horrendous living conditions prisoners were forced to contend with during and in the aftermath of Harvey.

As far as the state response to Hurricane Harvey, I have to admit TDCJ did a very good job evacuating state prisoners and moving them out of harm’s way.

However, I recently returned from a Federal Bench Warrant in order to attend a Federal Civil Court proceeding. While en route to Court, and during the many days it took me to return, I discovered some horrible things.

I travelled to many other prison units in mid to late September 2017. I spoke directly to prisoners who were travelling on buses and vans with me. One glaring issue and topic which continued to come up throughout the course of our conversations is the shocking increase of prisoner deaths inside facilities operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Many of these deaths are attributed to an epidemic of synthetic marijuana usage, which has created chaos for both prisoners and staff throughout the State of Texas.

The problem seemed to be extraordinarily pronounced at the Beto I Unit located in Tennessee Colony, Texas. I spent about 1 week at Beto awaiting my transfer back to the Eastham Unit which is located in Lovelady, Texas.

The Senior Warden who is in charge of ensuring the safety and security of both his staff and the prisoners in his care is Mr Norris Jackson. In my opinion, Warden Jackson has failed miserably in protecting the lives of prisoners, and he should be removed by the agency immediately.

Here is what I have discovered:

In the past 2 months, there have been approximately 10 prisoner deaths on the Beto I Unit. The cause of these deaths has been varied, but are in line with a pattern and a trend my free-world friends have noticed across the penal state:

  1. K-2 (synthetic marijuana) and the psychotic episodes associated with its usage is causing deaths at Beto Unit.

  2. Employee abuse, medical neglect and deliberate indifference are causing deaths on Beto Unit.

  3. Prisoner-on-prisoner assaults and suicides are causing deaths on Beto Unit and many other Texas prisons.

The bottom line is prisoners in Texas are dying at an alarming rate. I need help from media correspondents in order to uncover the details.

Contrary to the popular belief among prison administrators in Texas: prisoner lives do matter!

Sisters and brothers, no matter the race, religion or gender of a persyn, a humyn life is precious to me!

I can introduce you to caring and thoughtful prisoners at Beto I Unit who can provide you with the much-needed details concerning these deaths so we can collectively save some lives.

Lorie Davis is the director of TDCJ’s Correctional Institution Division, please let’s ask her why Warden Jackson continues to fail in preserving and saving the lives of prisoners.

Saving lives should be Job #1, don’t you think?

If you are interested, please contact me or one of my dedicated free-world comrades.

Dare to struggle, dare to win, all power to the people,

Comrade Malik

Keith “Malik” Washington is a humyn rights activist currently incarcerated in Texas. He is a co-founder and chief spokespersyn for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement. Malik is a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) and he is the Deputy Chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter). Malik has been instrumental in calling for the abolition of legalized slavery in Amerika and he is very active in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign. You can view his work at comrademalik.com or write him directly at Keith ‘Comrade Malik’ Washington TDC# 1487958 Eastham Unit, 2665 Prison Road 1 Lovelady, Texas 75851 (936) 636-7321 ext. (**009)


[received by PWN via an email of the supportgroup for Malik, 10-19-2017]

TX: Lead and Copper in Eastham Unit Water: A Potential Silent Killer

by Keith “Malik” Washington, Deputy Chairman, New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter)

Published originally in : Incarcerated Workers

“…We’re reaching a point where capitalism’s rapaciousness threatens the collapse of entire ecosystems and has us catapulting toward irreversible climate change catastrophe.” – Political prisoner David Gilbert, from an interview with Bob Feldman

Revolutionary Greetings Sisters & Brothers!
Right now, many of you are obtaining a clearer perspective of what actually is going on inside Texas prisons: deadly extreme heat, toxic water, and the “mysterious” deaths of prisoners at the Bill Clements Unit have recently been exposed by journalists who are not imprisoned. I am very glad to see this.

More than ever, now is the time for “the chickens to come home and roost” for the actions perpetrated by the ultra-corrupt prison officials of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Like Brother Malcolm X, I say “chickens coming home to roost never made me sad, they only made me glad.”

The focus of this brief essay is the purposeful poisoning of prisoners housed at the Eastham Unit in Lovelady, Texas. Once again, we are seeing a collusive and co-ordinated effort by the state of Texas and its prison agency, TDCJ, to cover up the poisoning of prisoners.

I say once again, because TDCJ has done this before. Candice Bernd of Truth-Out just recently reported on the problem in her article “Cruel and Unusual: Texas Prisoners Face Deadly Heat and Contaminated Water.” I highly recommend you read Ms Bernd’s article and follow the series she is working on with her colleagues from Earth Island Journal, Maureen Nandini Mitra and Zoe Loftus-Farren, “America’s Toxic Prisons: The Environmental Injustices of Mass Incarceration”.

I met Candice Bernd in July 2017 right here in the Eastham Unit. I was impressed by her intelligence and also by her commitment to unearthing the truth and reporting it. Like me, Candice is not just a journalist, she is an activist.

In 2015, I began raising the alarm about arsenic contaminated water at the Wallace Pack Unit (Pack I) located in Navasota, Texas. Panagioti Tsolkas, the co-founder of the Prison Ecology Project, raised the alarm also. In November 2015, I asked Professor Victor Wallis PhD of Berklee College (School of Music) in Boston, MA, to submit a complaint to the the TDCJ Ombudsman Office concerning the arsenic-tainted water at Pack I Unit. In the response we received, everybody lied! TDCJ lied, the Texas Commission on Environmental Justice lied, Emma Guerra the Ombudspersyn lied too!

A lot of people don’t realize that I am a communist and I subscribe to a very strict process when I am confronted with a problem. I apply historical dialectical materialism. I perform a concrete analysis of the conditions around me.
So I decided to provide for you the actual response we received from the TDCJ Ombudsman when we complained about arsenic contamination at the Pack I Unit in November 2015.

TDCJ Ombudsman to Dr Wallis-re arsenic water and extreme heat

TDCJ Ombudsman to Dr Wallis-re arsenic water and extreme heat: TDCJ officials deny the poisoned water.

In June 2016, Federal Judge Keith P Ellison ordered TDCJ to provide arsenic-free water to prisoners at Pack I because a finding of fact proved that Pack I’s water supply contained 2.5-4 times the EPA approved level of arsenic. So we learned a valuable lesson from that experience.
The State of Texas and its Prison Agency will lie about serious violations of humyn rights – FACT!

Through my research here on the Eastham Unit located in Lovelady, Texas, I have discovered that there has been a high frequency of lead and free copper found in the water system which serves Eastham Unit. Free copper and lead reveal a problem with the lines and service lines at the Eastham Unit. Corroded pipes are present here! The lead is exceptionally problematic because one of the detrimental health effects is high blood pressure or hyper-tension.

New Afrikan/Black men have a predisposition for high blood pressure! So now we are looking at a disproportionate number of New Afrikans incarcerated here at the former slave planation of Eastham. We factor in the deadly extreme heat and the heightened risk of heat injury and death; couple that with the consumption of toxic water, and this is a textbook example of an 8th Amendment US constitutional violation (cruel and unusual punishment).

Now, the first thing the professional liar Jason Clark will say is: “There are no traces of lead or copper in the Eastham water supply.” Jason Clark is the spokespersyn for TDCJ, he is paid big bucks to lie! If I had listened to Clark and the rest of the TDCJ liars in 2015, I would have ceased my exposure and investigation, but I know better. I continued to press the issue, and in June 2016 I was vindicated.

Right now, as I speak to you through this essay, my anarchist comrades at the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons are beginning to pore over data contained on the website operated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. I have asked Panagioti Tsolkas to ask college-educated toxicologists to study the data so that we can come up with a respected and authoritative opinion about the toxins present inside the Eastham water system.

I am requesting more free-world citizens help me force TDCJ to allow an objective and independent water quality testing organization to be allowed to enter Eastham and test our water from the taps in our cells! Oh yes! I’ve been doing my homework and TDCJ has been fraudulently manipulating the sample point so inaccurate lead and copper readings are recorded!

I am a New Afrikan Black Panther, so of course I have a vested interest in protecting the health and lives of black people – but my commitment doesn’t stop there! Some of you may be aware that I have been training a white man named Comrade Kado to be an effective jailhouse lawyer and human rights activist. Comrade Kado has fiery red hair, blue eyes and has been diagnosed with chronically high blood pressure!

This lead-contaminated water leads to kidney problems and high blood pressure. High blood pressure leads to strokes and strokes lead to death!
There are white, black and latin men at Eastham who can easily succumb to the “silent killer” which exists in the water we are forced to consume. We have no other water source!

The reason why these types of environmental problems are so very pervasive inside Texas prisons is that prisoner lives are not valued. Society is constantly bombarded with negative images of the violent, belligerent and manipulative convict.

No-one wants to talk about the Marissa Alexanders, or my comrade Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, who exposed the abuse of prisoners in Texas and was banished to a hole inside a Florida prison. Rashid’s “crime”? Having more concern for his fellow prisoners than he has for himself! And these are the types of stories the mainstream media ignores because they don’t fit the narrative the “powers that be” want to be in the fore-front of society’s collective mind. I humbly request that you start to question the oppressors in Texas and Florida.

I have a final word to offer on the topic of white supremacism and the rampant spread of neo-nazism in Amerika: Sisters and brothers, if we are extremely passionate about taking confederate statues down because they represent the vestiges of and legacy of white supremacy in Amerika, then we must become doubly committed to dismantling and abolishing the institution of legalized slavery in Amerika!

The United States leads the world in the proliferation of slave kamps and deadly gulags. President Donald Trump is a true reflection of Amerikan values and morals, he represents the cruel and harsh reality that we have been ignoring and unwilling to confront – until now! Dare to struggle, dare to win, all power to the people!

This essay is dedicated to the memory of the comedian, writer and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, October 12, 1932 – August 19, 2017.

Keith “Malik” Washington is a humyn rights activist currently incarcerated in Texas. He is a co-founder and chief spokespersyn for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement. Malik is a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) and he is the Deputy Chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter). Malik has been instrumental in calling for the abolition of legalized slavery in Amerika and he is very active in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign. You can view his work at comrademalik.com or write him directly at
Keith ‘Comrade Malik’ Washington TDC# 1487958
Eastham Unit,
2665 Prison Road 1
Lovelady, Texas 75851