From the September-October 2014 issue of News & Letters
Amarillo, Texas—The Texas prison system cut the total number of first-class letters that indigent prisoners are allowed to send from five per week to five per month. This has backed up my correspondence. By the end of the first week I have already posted my five outbound letters for the month. Those five letters, plus others, were written back in the first part of the previous month so that I do not miss a mailing/submission dates on my educational courses. When you go from 20-25 personal correspondences a month to five, it is the most “productive” silencer the prison system has enforced yet.
I give you the Texas Prison System, which was forced by federal legal actions (multiple Ruiz v. Estelle filings) to cease violating openly and intentionally, all prisoners’ constitutionally protected rights to humane treatment, access to courts, basic necessities, etc.
MONEY IS NOW A NECESSITY FOR JUSTICE
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is not trying to completely return to the days when only prisoners who had money or had family and friends who had money, were able to handle their appeals and civil rights violations suits. Now prisoners have no access to the federal courts’ rulings through the law library because the rulings have been removed as “too old.” But prisoners may purchase copies of “foundation cases” from the State Law Library.
To do so, prisoners must have money or access to those who do. Thus, indigent prisoners no longer have open access to the courts. But hey, that’s OK because the courts don’t care—neither state or federal.
How did the powers that be come to believe that they could get away with what they are doing worldwide? At what point in time did the 1% say now is the moment to undo years and years of having to treat folks as human beings with rights? The worst part is that “things” are going to get even worse before people stand up and say, as a whole society, that is enough. I believe that by 2016 food riots will be a daily happening and that food stamps and welfare programs will no longer exist. But hey, the Navy will have brand new subs and fleet carriers.
FOOD IS NOW A ‘PRIVILEGE’
This unit has cut the amount of food each prisoner is given (kitchen personnel say the food has not been reduced, but there are empty spots on the trays now). Whether this is to force an increase in prisoners’ purchases from the prison commissary, I do not know. What I do know is that prisoners who are indigent and can’t go to the store are getting thinner and starting to get that “look” about them that I saw in Central America in the faces of poor kids.
I have been noticing more and more prisoners with sores and red splotches on their arms, legs and faces. Anyone who gets a scratch, nick, or a cut talks about it taking a very long time to heal—if it does at all. I am not a doctor, but I believe I am seeing mass malnutrition and borderline scurvy.
I find it hard to believe when I see a prisoner that goes to the commissary standing next to one that does not, that both are not only eating in the same chow hall but are housed on the same cellblock in the same country.
Keep getting the real news out to the people. With each passing day that simple need becomes harder to meet. More folks are waking up to what they have been ignoring for far, far too long.
—Man in a Cage