TDCJ Field Ministers help to usher in Dramatic “Culture Change” at the Eastham Unit!
Written by: Keith “Malik” Washington
Peace and Blessings Sisters and Brothers! It is your brother in Struggle, your solider for Change, Comrade Malik reporting in from the Texas Gulag. April is here and with the new month we have Easter, Spring time, Reflections on the Past, and New Beginnings! Last year around this time, prisoners at Eastham were falling out in droves suffering from “Toochie Attacks”. Toochie or Tune is the street name or rather prison name for K-2 also known as synthetic marijuana. Last year, this Unit was flooded with the drug and it created a horrible atmosphere of chaos and violence. Prisoners were assaulting each other and Staff. This created a hostile work environment and some officers lost their cool also. Eastham was in need of a spiritual revival.
In Ad-Seg last year I was fighting for more humane conditions of confinement. We had a Roach and Rodent infestation problem and our opportunities for outside recreation were limited to 2 or maybe 3 times a week. I am glad to report that a lot has changed for the better here at Eastham Uni and I attribute it to a few things. First, in Ad-Seg we have a new Warden. Kenneth Hutto has a much different “management style” than the previous warden. He is strict but fair and he does not tolerate an un-sanitary or un-healthy environment. He seems to realize that human beings who live in small cells 23 to 2 hours a day, 365 days out of a year need adequate opportunities for outside recreation. We’ve been getting 5 days a week! The weather is starting to get nice so I will be going out regularly in order to shed these extra pounds I’ve picked up during winter.
One of the most welcome additions to Eastham are prisoners who attended and graduated from TDCJ’s Theological Seminary School which is at the Darrington Unit located in Rosharon, Texas. The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary School (SWBTS) at Darrington is privately funded. After completing 125 accredited hours in approximately four and a half years students received a Bachelor or Science Degree in Biological Studies and officially become “Field Ministers”. Senator John Whitmire has been one of the biggest supporters and advocates for these “Field Ministers”. In Theory they are supposed to go out into the General Population and Ad-Seg Units and act as an Extension of the TDCJ Chaplaincy Department. I actually had the pleasure of meeting and becoming close friends with a couple of these college trained “Field Ministers” and I can tell you that these men are incredible Ambassadors for Positive Change! Stanley Rucker and Melvin Aviva are just two of the “Field Ministers” I’ve grown to know and work with here at Eastham.
When brother Stanley discovered that a lot of prisoners in Ad-Seg were without Whirl-wind fans, he took the initiative to create a list and gave it to the Senior Warden here Billy Lewis. Warden Lewis contacted the Property Officer here and on June 21, 2017 Ad-Seg prisoners got fans!! Brother Melvin and Brother Stanley also helped me address some sanitation issues we were having here in Ad-Seg. In General Population Melvin, Stanley and the other “Field Ministers” began to work on the HEARTS and MINDS of prisoners who were in the midst of addiction to K-2!! Medium Custody prisoners were some of the most frequent victims of the so called “Toochie Attacks” so that is where Brother Stanley and Brother Melvin went to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the prisoners who needed it the most!! And I am a MUSLIM and I LOVE AND RESPECT THESE SOLIDERS FOR CHRIST BECAUSE THEY HAVE INTEGRITY AND HONOR!! And I was not the only one who noticed! During Hurricane Harvey last September Eastham hosted hundreds of prisoners from the C.T. Terrell Unit. They were housed in the Gym and in the Chapel area. It was our “Field Ministers” who acted as servants and helpers to these prisoners/evacuees many who were elderly, disabled, and infirm. In essence, our “Field Ministers” acted as Home Health Aids providing care and support for our guests! So in theory, Senator Whitmire hoped that the “Field Ministers” could help deliver the Message of Christ but in PRACTICE these “Field Ministers” have done that and so much more!!
A “spirit” of peace and tranquility has descended upon the Eastham Unit. There is co-operation between high ranking staff and the “Field Ministers”. What I mean is that these “Field Ministers” have earned the respect of the Administration and thus they have been granted a lot of latitude to move about and interact with all security levels. The “Field Ministers” are PROBLEM SOLVERS ACTUALLY ACTING AS A LIASON BETWEEN PRISONERS AND THE ADMINISTRATION. I am so supportive of these men because they are a manifestation of qualitative and quantitative change in a system which has been stagnated in the “OLD WAYS” for years! On top of that, I can teach more people how to fight for their rights when they aren’t angry and “high” on K-2!! More later Comrades!! This is Comrade Malik signing off until next time!! All Power to the People!!!
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
2665 Prison Rd. #1
Lovelady, Texas 75851