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)

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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

CDCR allegedly creates new types of solitary confinement cells, applying double jeopardy

From a letter sent on Aug. 14, 2015:

I’m writing to you about a new disciplinary building that’s been implemented here and at other prisons. It is known as a C-Status building.
It’s both similar and yet different from the Hole, or SHU.

This new program was implemented this year and cdcr are putting inmates in here based on how many 115s we get. The criteria is having two “Serious” 115s* (this could be for phone possession, dirty drug test, fighting, ANY Division offense really), or one Serious and two Administrative 115s, within a 6 month period.

The problem with this is if staff doesn’t like you, they can and will find something to write us up on, and it’s like we are being punished twice.

We have to deal with the disposition/punishment from the 115 (loss of yard, loss of phone, canteen, appliances, visits, etc), and then if we have two write ups, they convene a Commitee hearing (the captain, CC1, and CC2), label us as ‘program failures’ and we get put in the C-Status building for on average 5 months.

Once in the C Status building, our TVs, hot pots, fans, watches, radios, shavers, anything electronic is taken from us, as well as musical instruments, and we’re told to either send it home or donate it, but they will not store it for us. For recreation, we are only given one hour in the concrete yard at the same time every day.

The Title15 says they are only supposed to take away entertainment appliances, but they are going beyond that. They do not allow us to go to the law library (only paging), or go to any religious services.

Many of us have appealed via 602, but they have been screening out every one. We are essentially being punished twice, the first punishment being from the 115, and then by committee putting us in here, sometimes months after the original 115 disposition.

There are approximately 44 cells that have been appropriated in 8-Block (all of the cells in B and C section) to be used to house inmates placed on ‘C-Status’ by the disciplinary lieutenants and/or ‘C/C’ placement (Privilege Group & Work Group), by prison officials at a Committee hearing (which consists of the facility Captain, CC1 Counselor, and CC2 Counselor).

Since the implementation of this new punishment, prison officials have been on a grind to fill up these cells. And they have done just that; almost all 44 cells (double occupancy) have been filled up. And these are only with the inmates on this yard, C-yard.

There is a huge disparity in the treatment and ‘program’ we receive compared to those inmates that get sent to Ad-Seg and SHU’s. They have more privileges than us and they are often placed there for way more serious offenses, such as possession of weapons, distributing/possessing drugs, battery and assault on staff or inmates, etc. And these Ad-Seg inmates are allowed to have their TV’s, and new arrivals to Ad-Seg are even given radios to use temporarily. Even more important, they are [in theory] allowed access to the law library twice a week.

But for many of us we’re put on C/C for petty offenses, and once here we are not allowed to go to the law library or any religious service programs.
Being denied access to the law library and its resources is a huge obstacle to those with active appeals and court cases. It’s denying us with one of our fundamental rights to have access to law materials and the courts.

CSP-Sac officials have ignored the Title-15, and often make and impose changes arbitrarily. For example, since when is a hotpot, fan, or wrist watch considered an ‘entertainment appliance’, which they have and thus will not allow us to have them. However, according to the Title-15, the only property we’re not allowed to have while on C/C or C-Status, are ‘entertainment appliances’ (TVs, radios, and musical instruments).

We are being subjected to worse treatment and denied programs, and for many of us these are for petty offenses. All of us have already been found guilty and punished once already for the 115, but now if we have two 115 write-up’s within 6 months of each other, we get punished twice by being put in this shit-hole of a disciplinary building, often for up to 5-6 months. This is double jeopardy at its finest.

*=Rules Violation Reports, see 3310-3326 of CDCR Title 15 rules book

 

Menard hunger strikers still fighting to be treated like human beings

Reblogged from: SF Bay View, April 12, 2014

Written By Jesus Vega

I am currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center in Illinois and housed in the high security unit in administrative detention. I was one of the inmates who was on hunger strike over harsh living conditions and denial of our due process, which is still going on.

No! Things haven’t changed after the hunger strike was over. I spent 29 days on hunger strike and three days on a water strike. I couldn’t go any longer.
I tried my best with the other brothers to get these harsh conditions fixed or changed. But nothing has been done.

There was a lot of reasons why we went on hunger strike, but some of the main reasons were the denial of our due process where they place us in administrative detention in the high security unit and refuse to tell us why, don’t let us know how long we will be in here and how to get out without becoming a snitch, plus having to endure the harsh conditions, meaning living without hot water in the cell and no heat during the cold weather months plus some other things.

But we’ve only gotten hot water, and we still are in a fight to be treated like a human being. Just know we haven’t quit our fight.

Send our brother some love and light: Jesus Vega, R21806, Menard CC, P.O. Box 1000, Menard, IL 62259.

Hunger Strike Begins at Wallens Ridge State Prison

From: Solidarity with Virginia Prison Hunger Strikers

April 16, 2013

On Monday, April the 15th it was brought to the attention of the Solidarity with Virginia Prison Hunger Strikers Coalition that a hunger strike has been initiated at Wallens Ridge State Prison located in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Based off inside information there are at least 16 individuals participating in this hunger strike. The status of the strikers is unknown at this time.

Last May a hunger strike was initiated at Red Onion State Prison, which is located 30 minutes north of Wallens Ridge State Prison and could be considered its sister site. Between the prior hunger strike and the current one, the VADOC has conducted a new effort to transport many of the prisoners formerly held at Red Onion to Wallens Ridge. 

Although Wallens Ridge is a lower-level security prison it is commonly said by prisoners and ex-prisoners that Wallens Ridge is a more brutal and corrupt prison than Red Onion. Even though the technical status of Wallens Ridge is security-level 4 there has now been a new security-level designation within Wallens Ridge, in correspondence with Red Onion transfers, known as security-level S. 

According to the VADOC January newsletter the reasoning behind this campaign is to “give…offenders more programmatic opportunities and more pathways to lower security prisons” and that it has resulted in “..a reduction in the number of Administrative Segregation offenders, a reduction in incidents, and a reduction in offender grievances.” 

The fact that these young men are compelled to risk their lives in order to gain a little more fairness, a little more decency, refutes whatever the official line of the VADOC may be in its efforts to keep the population under its thumb.

The VADOC and its agents are culpable for all torture and brutality that is inflicted upon generations of young black men who are living at the mercy of a justice system that specifically targets them based on their race and class. We support these hunger strikers and their demands against the oppression they face daily at the hands of correctional officers and the negligence of the VADOC itself.

Writing materials no longer allowed inside Mansfield Ad. Seg….

We received this from a correspondent who is currently in the “hole” in Mansfield C.I.:

Oct 10, 2012
Mansfield C.I.
From the “hole” (administrative segregation)
This is the last working pen we have. Guards said they no longer provide pens + they won’t let us get to our property to get pens, so this is a way to silence the entire segregation population. Isn’t it coincidental that policy changes like this occur every time I’m placed in segregation? You would almost think this is an effort to silence me, and everyone else impacted are just dolphins caught in a tuna net. So this may be the last anyone hears from me for a while, including my attorney. No pen, no outgoing mail.
As a last matter, all reading material sent to me is withheld, it would be wonderful if out of spite a million people sent reading material and overwhelmed the […] mailroom.

People: Please send this man some mail and interesting politically progressive reading materials (copies)!

Sean Swain # 243205
Mansfield C.I.
P. O. Box 788
1150 North Main Street
Mansfield, Ohio 44901

(or via Jpay.com)

See for Sean’s writings and thoughts: Seanswain.org