Saturday, August 19, 2017

URGENT CALL TO ACTION - HEAT AT EASTHAM

Email to: ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov

Dear Ombudsman's Office,

I am writing to make an official complaint about the lack of implementation of heat mitigation measures at the Eastham Administrative Segregation Unit.

I have been informed by an individual housed at this unit that heat mitigation measures including provision of ice and ice water, access to cool down showers, and access to respite areas, are NOT being implemented or made accessible on the Administrative Segregation unit at Eastham.  As you probably know, these are not only necessary and lifesaving measures, but also mandated by TDCJ policy.  However, from what I have been told, water is being passed out maximum three times per day and it is LUKEWARM, with NO ICE.  This is contrary to policy and poses a gravely dangerous health risk.  Furthermore, I am being informed that access to cool down showers is NOT being provided to those housed in Ad-Seg.  Respite areas are similarly impossible to access for those in Ad-Seg, because they are confined to their cells.

When I called the Warden's office at Eastham to register my concern about this, I was informed immediately by the receptionist for the Warden's office that staff was in compliance with all department policies.  I find it laughable that I am supposed to take her opinion, with no investigation into the matter whatsoever, at face value.  She is administrative staff, and honestly has no idea what measures are, or are not, being implemented.  When I pressed her on this point, she curtly informed me that I should take it up with the Ombudsman's office, and so that is precisely what I am doing; I can only hope that you will be more thorough in your investigation that she was!  It is simply not enough to take Department staff at their word on this.

As you may be aware, indigent and mentally ill prisoners on the Eastham unit were recently provided with whirlwind fans due to the extreme heat (reaching over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with even higher heat indexes), and Federal judges have order the installation of AC at the Pack Unit and emergency transfer of 1,000 prisoners prior to the installation, due to the health concerns and human suffering associated with extreme heat in the cells.  All of these improvements came after the filing of many complaints, write-ins, call-ins, and eventually legal battles that the Department lost--not to mention, after 25 people have died of extreme heat in TDCJ custody over the years.  It is absurd, cruel, and shocking that even ONE person would die of heat exposure in TDCJ custody, let alone over two dozen!  I provide all of this as context, because clearly the issue I am raising in this complaint is a DEPARTMENT-WIDE ISSUE, and TDCJ will be called to account time and time again in the form of costly, time-consuming, and embarrassing litigation, unless they start following their own policies to mitigate extreme heat.  That is all there is to it, and really, ice water and a place to cool down for a few minutes is not much to ask--it's hardly some extravagant luxury!  It's basic human rights, dignity, and safety.

Please enter my complaint into the official record and investigate this issue as thoroughly as you can; and be proactive, because prison staff unfortunately do not seem to be capable of holding themselves accountable, so we will have to do that for them.

Thank you very much for your time and assistance in this matter.  I look forward to hearing from you--and from those housed at Eastham--regarding improved conditions.

Sincerely,
 
Your Name
 
Why should you do this?
 
Friends,

I am writing because there is a dire need for ally support right now, for people housed in the Administrative Segregation (solitary confinement) unit at Eastham Prison in Texas, which is experiencing DEADLY HEAT conditions (as are many other prisons in Texas, and the greater southwest region).

What is needed is for folks to email the Ombudsman (the office in charge of investigating grievances) about this issue; it's easy, there's no official format to follow or anything, just dash off an email, shouldn't take more than 10 to 15 minutes!

I am including below the email I sent for reference, but yours need not be that detailed; all you need to include is your concern about the issue (exposure to extreme temperatures) and what you would like to see done (implement heat mitigation measures already on the books). Here is all the info you need to write your email:

- According to its own policies, TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) is supposed to offer access to ice and ice water on demand, access to "cool down" showers for people to lower their body temps, and access to "respite areas" that are air conditioned to lower their body temps
- None of the above are being made available to those housed in Ad-Seg, NOT EVEN ICE WATER!!  The water is offered at maximum three times per day, and it is lukewarm, with no ice.  TDCJ must immediately begin complying with its OWN POLICIES and make these heat mitigation measures available.
- Imagine being locked in a cell that reaches over 100 degreesfor 23 hours per day.  This is a cruel violation of human and Constitutional rights
- Nearly 2 dozen people have died in TDCJ custody over the years due to extreme heat exposure.
- The extreme heat in Texas prison is not news by any stretch of the imagination:  a federal judge just ordered the emergency transfer of 1,000 people in another unit and the installation of Air Conditioning on that unit because of gross violations of the 8th amendment against "cruel and unusual punishment."  So current complaint exists within a context of greater departmental failure.
 

Friday, August 18, 2017

VIDEO & AUDIO of Speakers From ATX Millions for Prisoners Rally

Millions for Prisoners on ATX Aug 12th 2017
In solidarity with Millions for Prisoners March on Washington DC

Jason Hammond, formerly incarcerated as part of the Tinley Park 5, "Bella Ciao"

Greg Curry, Amend The 13th: Abolish Legal Slavery in Amerika Movement, currently wrongfully incarcerated for a murder he did not commit during the Lucasville Uprising Listen Write
Greg Curry #A213159 Ohio State Penitentiary 878 Cotsville-Hubbard Rd Youngstown OH 44505


Annette Price, African American woman who served 20 years of her life in prison. Today, she is the Intake Specialist for Texas Fair Defense Project, Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable Fellow and an Advocate for criminal justice working toward making systemic changes.


 Jasmin Patel of Counterbalance ATX about the School Supply Drive and speaking on behalf of
Keith "Malik" Washington
Write Malik: Keith Washington #1487958 Eastham Unit 2665 Prison Road 1 Lovelady TX 75851


 Martina Grifaldo Alianza - Latina Internacional
speaking on Immigrant Detention Centers from the perspective of trafficked women


Fredrick Womack, co-founder AMP 360, father, business student at Austin Community College, formerly incarcerated


Brad Crowder, Fight for 15, 
on his experiences while incarcerated in the Bureau of Prisons 

BlAcKjAcK aka James Dzelajlija musical stylings and full interview
Write:  James Dzelajlija #A530144 Lebanon Correctional Institution PO Box 56 Lebanon OH 45036



Rodrick Reed, of the Reed Justice Initiative and Justice 4 Rodney Reed,  
 brother of wrongfully incarcerated death row inmate Rodney Reed
Write Rodney Reed #00999271 Polansky Unit 3872 FM 350, Livingston, TX 77351


Rose Collins, mother of currently incarcerated hacktivist Jeremy Hammond
Write Jeremy Hammond #18729-424 FCI Manchester PO Box 4000 Manchester KY 40962


Akwasi Evans, Federation of Former Felons and Editor of Nokoa The Observer on his felony conviction for possession of marijuana


  Brother Zulu, Free Alabama Movement, speaking from solitary confinement. Listen


 
Ronnie Goodwin, Prison Abolition Prisoner Support, on not wanting to send his brother's killer to prison


Thanks to JLK of ShotsFiredTX for video and photos

Additional photos by @GarrickJannene

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Speeches from across the razor wire heard at other nationwide rallies

Hereby Heshima's speech for today's Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March. His speech will be heard at the San Jose Rally on Aug 19th 2017 



97,000 INMATES ON LOCKDOWN IN FLORIDA!

 
Prison Abolition Prisoner Support (PAPS)
Media Contact: Azzurra Crispino

 The Ordinary People Society (TOPS)
Media Contact: Psr Kenneth Glasgow


FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS PLACES 97,000 INMATES ON LOCKDOWN TO STOP THEM FROM JOINING MILLIONS FOR PRISONERS

FLORIDA – Florida Department of Corrections has placed all of its 97,000 inmates on lockdown, just days before the August 19th Millions for Prisoners and Human Rights March on Washington, DC calling for an end to the legalized slavery of the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution.  Cracking down on the mobility of inmates by correctional officials has become a common tactic to prevent prisoners from joining outside supporters in calling for an end to mass incarceration.  Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, who was recently moved to a Florida prison from a Texas unit on interstate compact following a massive call-in and write-in campaign to return his legal materials, witnessed these same tactics in Texas prior to the 2016 national prison strikes: “The actual aim of this lockdown was/is to pre-empt the prisoners at this Unit from participating in the September 9th protest by confining everyone to their cells in advance of it, and well into the period during which it might last.” Mr. Johnson, who organizes with the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter, has been disappeared in the Florida Department of Corrections System. The inmate locator website and officials will not reveal where he is being held, once again making vague claims of security threats - as they are doing to attempt to justify this unreasonable lockdown. 
Prison activists and family members of prisoners are concerned that this lockdown and repression may lead to more violence. At Kinross Unit in Michigan last September, inmates peacefully marched in the unit and then were met with brutal retaliation from correctional officers. Speaking from the Millions for Prisoners rally at the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), Alejo Stark of Michigan Abolition and Prisoner Support (MAPS) stated, “protest at Kinross Correctional Facility had been peacefully resolved for hours before MDOC sent in ERT squads, causing panic and terror by deploying chemical weapons at imprisoned people.”
            Pastor Kenneth Glasgow of the The Ordinary People Society was held in three different Florida prisons for a span of two years before becoming a prisoner advocate for the last two decades.  “These lockdowns are some of the most egregious, inhumane places that these prisoners can find themselves. But it also burdens the families because they do not know the where-abouts or the care-abouts of their family members. They cannot visit them or call them to know whether they are alive or dead.”
MEDIA AVAILABILITY: CURRENT & FORMER PRISONERS, FAMILY IN FL
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Press Release


Media Contact                      
Azzurra Crispino
512-300-5559
       Prison Abolition Prisoner Support


MILLIONS FOR PRISONERS ON ATX SCHOOL SUPPLY DRIVE & RALLY

Austin, TX: In solidarity with the Millions for Prisoners March on Washington and associated actions nationwide, a rally and school supply drive will take place in Austin, Texas on Sat, August 12th from noon to 2pm at Travis County Jail Central Booking, 500 W. 10th St. Austin Texas 78701. As made popular by Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th, the 13th Amendment – which was meant to abolish slavery – includes an exception for those convicted of a crime. Prisoners are legally considered slaves in the US!  These actions call to #AmendThe13th in order to #EndSlavery once and for all.

Attendees will bring school supplies, which will then be distributed to children at risk of falling into the schools-to-prison pipeline. Sponsored by a large coalition of community groups, including: Justice 4 Rodney Reed, Counter Balance ATX, Free Alabama Movement, Texas Jail Project, Grassroots Leadership, ICE Fuera de Austin/ICE Out of Austin, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, Alianza Latina Internacional, Inmate Lives Matter - Texas Chapter, Fight for 15 Texas, Prison Justice League, and Prison Abolition Prisoner Support.

The event will include music composed and performed by a current prisoner, currently and formerly incarcerated speakers representing city and county jails, state and federal prison, and immigrant detention centers, and family members of those incarcerated and victims of crimes.  “This is our chance to finally abolish slavery. Don’t you want to be able to tell your grandchildren you helped do that, even if it took to 2017 to do it?” says organizer Azzurra Crispino, co-founder of Prison Abolition Prisoner Support, as to why this event is being put together.

Those unable to attend the rally in person can still donate school supplies at various community locations.



MEDIA AVAILABILITY: CURRENTLY AND FORMERLY INCARCERATED, FAMILY MEMBERS, ORGANIZERS, SPANISH AND ENGLISH.

VIDEO, PICTURE AND AUDIO AVAILABILITY (after the rally):  

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

SponsorOrgs

FINAL LIST OF ORGANIZATIONS SPONSORING THE MARCH

Justice 4 Rodney Reed,  
Counter Balance ATX,  
Free Alabama Movement,  
Texas Jail Project,  
Grassroots Leadership,  
ICE Fuera de Austin/ICE Out of Austin,  
Jailhouse Lawyers Speak,  
Alianza Latina Internacional,  
Inmate Lives Matter - Texas Chapter
Fight for 15 Texas,  
Prison Justice League
Democratic Socialists of American Austin Chapter  
Left Up To Us 
Campaign to End Torture (Chicago, IL)
ACC American Federation of Teachers Local 6249 
Inside Books Project
Prison Abolition Prisoner Support

Speaker List

FINAL LIST TO BE RELEASED ON DAY OF THE EVENT

TENTATIVE LIST


BlAcKjAcK, musical stylings from behind the razor wire

Rose Collins, mother of Jason and Jeremy Hammond, on having both of her twins incarcerated
 
Brad Crowder, Fight for 15, on his experiences while incarcerated in the Bureau of Prisons 

Greg Curry, Amend The 13th: Abolish Legal Slavery in Amerika Movement, speaking from prison in Ohio

Sonia Escobedo,  Prison Abolition Prisoner Support, on being on both sides of the wire

Akwasi Evans, Federation of Former Felons and Editor of Nokoa The Observer on his felony conviction for possession of marijuana
 
Ronnie Goodwin, Prison Abolition Prisoner Support, on not wanting to send his brother's killer to prison

Martina Grifaldo with Alianza Latina Internacional, speaking on Immigrant Detention Centers from the perspective of trafficked women 

Rodrick Reed, of the Reed Justice Initiative and Justice 4 Rodney Reed,  brother of wrongfully incarcerated death row inmate Rodney Reed

Jasmin Patel, Counter Balance ATX

Annette Price, African American woman who served 20 years of her life in prison. Today, she the Intake Specialist for Texas Fair Defense Project, Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable Fellow and an Advocate for criminal justice working toward making systemic changes.

Fredrick Womack, co-founder AMP 360, father, business student at Austin Community College, formerly incarcerated



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Millions for Prisoners March on ATX

An action in solidarity with the Millions for Prisoners March on Washington (August 19th #A19 in Washington DC) to #EndSlavery #AbolishThe13th #AmendThe13th .




Co-sponsored by
Counter Balance: ATX, Campaign to End Torture (Chicago, IL), Free Alabama Movement, Texas Jail Project, Grassroots Leadership, ICE Fuera de Austin/ICE Out of Austin, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, Aliana Latina Internacional, Inmate Lives Matter - Texas Chapter, Fight for 15 Texas, Prison Justice League, Prison Abolition Prisoner Support - it is not too late to come on as a co-sponsor!





Most people believed the 13th Amendment abolished slavery, but its actual text is: 

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

In other words, prisoners are legally considered slaves!!! This is a travesty that must be stopped. Join us! 

Who: ANYONE! 
What: Rally
Where: Travis County Jail 500 W 10th St, Austin, TX 78701 
When: Saturday August 12th noon-2pm
How: Please bring school supplies and backpacks for children whose parents are incarcerated.
Why: To Abolish Slavery once and for all! 
 
Activities will include: coloring for the kiddos, speakers, music, and postcard writing 


Can't make the rally? Sign the petition or drop off school supplies 

Confirmed Speakers: 

Rose Collins, mother of Jason and Jeremy Hammond, on having both of her twins incarcerated
Brad Crowder, Fight for 15, on his experiences while incarcerated in the Bureau of Prisons 
Sonia Escobedo and Alysia Duemler of PAPS on their experience in local jail 
Ronnie Goodwin, Prison Abolition Prisoner Support, on not wanting to send his brother's killer to prison
Martina Grifaldo with Alianza Latina Internacional, speaking on Immigrant Detention Centers from the perspective of trafficked women 
Annette Price 
Fredrick Womack, co-founder AMP 360, father, business student at Austin Community College, formerly incarcerated

There will also be some incarcerated speakers across the razor wire, come in person to find out! 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Help Malik

Keith "Malik" Washington has been in administrative segregation since he was charged with inciting a riot for his peaceful part in organizing the April and September 2016 prisoner strikes.

YOU can help Malik by providing him with reading materials:

Here is his wish list:


Wired Magazine
Atlantic Monthly
Ebony Magazine
SLAM Magazine
The Economist
Austin Chronicle
Esquire
ESPN Magazine
Rolling Stone
Austin American Statesman
Houston Chronicle


“any anarchist newspapers/magazines with a special focus on green anarchism and black block* - socialist/communist newspapers"

Keith "Malik" Washington
1487958
Eastham Unit
2665 Prison Rd #1
Lovelady TX 75851

please email us (i heart paps at gmail dot com) if you have any questions, or if you have donated a subscription for Malik from this list and we will cross it off so he doesn't get two.