Independent oversight of Texas prisons: Fantasy or reality?

by Keith ‘Malik’ Washington, Chief Spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement
Published first in the SF Bayview, May 8 ,2019

In 2013, imprisoned journalist, activist and Freedom Fighter Kevin “Rashid” Johnson arrived in Texas after being transferred from the Oregon Department of Corrections. Johnson, who is the Minister of Defense for the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter, immediately became the target of a coordinated campaign by the state of Texas to silence his voice and to harm him both physically and mentally.

It wasn’t long after Rashid’s arrival that he was transferred to the infamous Bill Clements High Security Unit, located in Amarillo, Texas. While housed there, Rashid witnessed the murders, suicides and mysterious deaths of numerous prisoners housed at the facility.

Rashid wrote essay after essay detailing the grisly abuse of the mentally ill and other vulnerable prisoners housed at the unit. In 2014, I had heard enough. With the help of Professor Victor Wallis, Ph.D., I submitted a packet of information and letter to then First Lady Michelle Obama. In them, I described the mistreatment of incarcerated U.S. military veterans and the “mysterious deaths” of prisoners housed at the Bill Clements Unit.

I was surprised when I received a letter in April 2015 from U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney Brian Buehler informing me that the packet of information and letter, which I had sent to the White House, was actually read by Michelle Obama and she had forwarded the letter and other information to Buehler at the Justice Department!

This is the background story to what has now become a campaign in Texas to establish an Independent Ombudsman Office that will monitor the actions of this extremely unethical, unjust and corrupt prison agency known as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ).

A Black legislator in Texas named Jarvis Johnson, a Houston Democrat, has filed House Bill 363, calling for the creation of an Independent Ombudsman Office. What actually is being proposed is that the current TDCJ Ombudsman Office be moved and placed under the purview of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

There are some serious problems which exist within the current Ombudsman Office. Not only have we seen on-going acts of cronyism, nepotism and obstruction of justice tactics when family members and friends of prisoners submit complaints, there are also noticeable structural, systemic and institutionalized racism and bigotry hardwired into the mainframe of this prison agency.

Lorie Davis is the director of the TDCJ Correctional Institution Division. Davis has actually promoted, sanctioned and condoned retaliation and intimidation of prisoners whose family members and friends utilize the Ombudsman Program. But it is much deeper than just that.

Lorie Davis has created a culture within TDCJ by which jailhouse lawyers, also known as “writ-writers,” are subjected to manifold reprisals for their peaceful and legal activities. Activities which are supposed to be protected under the U.S. Constitution’s First and 14th Amendments!

The state of Texas is down here attempting to purge minorities from voting rolls – so please, miss me with all that talk of our vote meaning nothing!

Davis has also created a toxic work and living environment for both prisoners and employees. Patriarchy and the misogynistic behavior of high-ranking male officers in the employ of the state of Texas have become the status quo inside Texas prisons. Davis can feign neither innocence nor ignorance, because too many human and civil rights violations have happened on her watch!

I actually have been working closely with one of Rep. Johnson’s staff members in order to provide historical evidence to clearly show that the current TDCJ Ombudsman Office has not only violated the public’s trust but has completely ignored serious complaints by those who have incarcerated loved ones inside facilities operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

One key point we have been trying to make is this: Many of the complaints have led to multi-million dollar civil lawsuits filed against this unscrupulous prison agency, and Texas taxpayers continue to foot the bill when these multi-million dollar settlements are handed down – by federal judges!

At the end of the day, our goal is to create an office that will provide transparency, accountability and meaningful investigations, as well as oversight of a prison agency that has lost the confidence of citizens and taxpayers. Texas has the largest state prison system in the country and establishing an Independent Ombudsman Office has the potential to promote an environment where prisoners may be treated with dignity, respect and humane living conditions.

Rep. Johnson has told me in a letter that he believes that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is one of the key foundations which make the United States unique from other countries.

Prisoners should never be afraid to exercise their right to free speech. If there’s one message I’d like to give to college students all across the United States it is this: You cannot say that you belong to or represent a political party if you don’t get involved in the process!

Be you a Democrat, Republican, Green, Socialist or Democratic Socialist – don’t ever let anyone tell you that your vote or your voice is insignificant or that it doesn’t count! That is a lie! The state of Texas is down here attempting to purge minorities from voting rolls – so please, miss me with all that talk of our vote meaning nothing!

If it meant nothing, these sneaky politicians and powerbrokers wouldn’t be trying to defraud and sabotage our rights! Please stay tuned, sisters and brothers. There will be much more for me to report from the Lone Star State!

Dare to struggle. Dare to win. All power to the People!

Keith “Malik” Washington is co-founder and chief spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement, a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, an activist in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign and deputy chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter. Read Malik’s work at ComradeMalik.com and on the site of the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement.
Send our brother some love and light: Keith “Malik” Washington, 1487958, McConnell Unit, 3100 S. Emily Dr., Beeville TX 78103 (or via Jpay.com).

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Social death in Texas

Revolutionary greetings comrades and fellow workers!

When we discuss the term “social death”, especially in the context of the Prison Abolition Movement, we are talking about the severance and cutting off of a human being from all ties to (free) society as we know it. I would like to share my experiences.

I was first incarcerated in Texas in October 2007, so I am now approaching 12 years of incarceration. As soon as I arrived at the Harris County Jail, I fell off into a deep depression. I know that my depression had a lot to do with my drug addiction. Right from the beginning, everyone I knew began severing ties and literally “throwing me away”!

I was being held on a charge of bank robbery (with a note). The first person I reached out to was my former Public Defender Peter J. Bray. Peter worked for the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Houston, TX, which was headed by Marjorie Meyers. Peter was not nasty, but he did tell me: “Mr. Washington, there is nothing I can do to help you. The U.S. Attorney said that they have no interest in picking up your case and that you will do your time in the custody of the State of Texas. Good luck, Mr. Washington.” And then he hung up!

My first court appearance, I was informed that I was looking at 25 to LIFE! I was shocked and began experiencing hallucinations and hearing voices. I had no free-world support at the time. My former fiancée and I had separated. She had become an employee with the federal government. In fact, she was at the Pentagon with the Defense Intelligence Security Agency (DISA). I had actually encouraged her to accept a scholarship from the Department of Defense, and while she was in graduate school, I supported her financially and morally. I was actually financially stable at one point in my life! My former drug habit ruined my life!

So, I am in the county jail for approximately 7 months before I sign a plea deal for a non-aggravated sentence of 20 years, I’d be eligible for parole in 2 years so I took the deal! There was a problem. I had an outstanding charge in Galveston, Texas, and I kept telling my court-appointed attorney, who was named Brett Podolosky, about it. Brett turned out to be my enemy and not a friend. He told me not to worry about it! I knew better, but there was nothing I could do. When you are an indigent prisoner in the state of Texas, you have to take what you get, and the system is not set up for you to retain quality legal representation. I’ll never forget “good ol’” Brett Podolosky!

I don’t like to admit this, but I sought psychological counselling and help while I was housed at the Harris County Jail. At the time, a new Sheriff named Adrian Garcia was in charge at the jail, and he had instituted a new mental health program which gave Sheriffs training and education in regard to mental health issues and how they impact the prison population. The Harris County Jail had also opened a new housing wing for prisoners at the jail should they experience a crisis. I actually believe that this new program instituted by Sheriff Adrian Garcia saved my life! I am not embarrassed to say that! I am now a serious and dedicated advocate for the mentally ill and physically disabled, and if anyone studies my work, they will clearly see I spend a lot of my time focusing on these issues.

As I began to seek treatment for mental illness, I began to embrace my Islamic Faith more seriously. I grew my beard out. In fact, I wore a huge beard while living in the city of Houston, Texas, and I attended a Mosque regularly in the 3rd Ward called al-Muhayman Masjid on Cleburn Street right around the corner from the SHAPE Center. This is significant, because here we are 12 years later and my comrade and friend L. just met death penalty abolitionist Gloria Rubac, of the SHAPE Center, and Comrade Gloria said that her daughter is a parole attorney who can help me! That is pretty amazing for a guy who was thrown away and forgotten about 12 years ago! But I digress.

The dedicated and compassionate employees with the Harris County Psychiatric Center helped me snap out of my depression, and I continued to embrace my Islamic Faith, and held on to that.

In March 2008, I was transferred to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and arrived at Garza West, which is located in the Kennedy and Beeville area. As soon as I got off the bus, a TDCJ employee said in a loud voice: “Does anyone have a problem with shaving their beard or cutting their hair?” I raised my hand. I was the only one to do so. The officer approached me, and mind you I’m not a little guy, I was about 6’4” and 260lb at the time, with a huge-ass beard! The officer asked “What’s your story?” I said, “I am a Muslim, we are instructed by our Prophet to grow our beards and trim our moustaches.” The TDCJ employee said “Well, I will tell you that if you don’t shave that beard, we are going to put you in a cell and about 4 or 5 of my buddies are going to beat your ass and force you to shave, so what do you want to do?” At the time I chose to shave!

It is important that I tell you this part of my story, because not only was my incarceration taking me literally out of society, it was attempting to destroy my identity! Destroying my Muslim identity! At that reception center at Garza West in South Texas, hundreds of us were stripped naked, showered, fingerprinted, photographed and shaved bald. Then we were given identical prison uniforms and a number! From that point up to right now, I have been treated like an animal and not a human being! Texas reminds you everyday that you are a subhuman. “Your lives mean nothing to us, we don’t care if you live or die, you are a slave and are treated as such!”

So here I was, 12 years ago. No family or community support. No clergy. No money. And very little hope.

Twenty years is not a life sentence, and I have always been an extremely optimistic person – I am not a quitter! So I began to fight in my own way! At first, I assimilated. I was a “happy slave” and a person who hustled to stay alive. I got a job in the kitchen and sold sandwiches. I was good at hustlin’. But, I was also a Muslim, and as I got more and more involved, some of my brothers told me that, during the Holy Month of Ramadan, they wanted me to suspend my thievery from the kitchen. I complied, because I love being a Muslim and I love Allah!

I began to become very interested in the law, because I received a letter from the City of Galveston, Texas. The letter was from the District Attorney, and it said that I had an outstanding charge for aggravated robbery! Remember Attorney Brett Podolosky? He said don’t worry! Brett Podolosky still practices law in Houston, and he gave me very bad advice! Boycott him!

The good news is that I went to the Unit Law Library, and filed a motion for a speedy trial. In 2010 I finally adjudicated those charges, and I did not receive a charge for aggravated robbery! I received the exact same sentence I received in Harris County, and the Prosecutor counted most of my back time and she ran my time concurrent and not consecutive. That means they did not stack the sentence! Judge David Garner in Galveston gave me a second chance. If it wasn’t for Judge Garner I’d be doing 40 years instead of 20! So I do have many things to be thankful for.

Malik with raised fist and beard, in february of 2019
Malik with raised fist and beard, in february of 2019

There are many people who know me now because of my activism and my journalism inside Texas prisons. You will notice that I wear a large beard now. I fought for this beard! I fought to regain my identity!

The State of Texas promotes social death no matter what they may lie about and say. In reality, the prison agency TDCJ does not want our families and friends looking too closely at what is happening inside these slave kamps and gulags, because the agency can’t really stand intense scrutiny. There are psychologists employed by the state that come up with strategies and plans to break down the resistance of their charges. That is what ad-seg is all about! That is why you hear many of us use the term Control Units. This is part of the program of mass incarceration! Anarchy and anarchists are completely and wholeheartedly opposed to this authoritarian strategy used to break humans! Prisons are not making big money on a grand scale! No, this is something else, this is about social control!

After I regained my Muslim identity, I had to fight to regain my social identity and my rightful place in society! Anyone can go back to society and fall back into the same old pattern of drug use and crime, but how many go back to their communities as human and civil rights activists, organizers, freedom fighters and, most importantly, servants of the people?

Some of you may have heard about Kevin “Rashid” Johnson’s book, entitled Defying the Tomb. Defying the tomb isn’t just about surviving prison and solitary confinement, it is about thriving in this atmosphere, and completely changing the conditions inside and outside these prisons, with our final goal being abolition!

You see, I began talking about social death, but the end-game is social life! I am becoming successful because I chose social life over social death! Even though the deck continues to be stacked against me, it is my determination and the compassion and dedication of a growing number of free-world folks who are collectively saying with their actions: No! No, State of Texas, we will not let you take Malik! We are re-claiming him as one of our own!

You have to understand that once society wants you back, no-one and no entity can hold you! The people will eventually free you! And once you are free, you have responsibilities to fulfil. Your freedom comes with a price. Don’t betray the movement! Choose social life over death! Abolish prisons now!

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

Keith “Malik” Washington is co-founder and chief spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement, a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, an activist in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign and deputy chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter. Read Malik’s work at ComradeMalik.com and endprisonslaveryintexas.wordpress.com.
Send our brother some love and light:
Keith “Malik” Washington, 1487958,
McConnell Unit,
3100 S. Emily Dr.,
Beeville TX 78103

Knockin’ doors down

by Keith ‘Malik’ Washington, Chief Spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement

Published originally on the SF Bayview, Jan. 28, 2019

“Collective Struggle” – Art: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, 264847, Pendleton Correctional Facility, G-20-2C, 4490 W. Reformatory Road, Pendleton, IN 46064

“The prison industrial complex has created a kind of ‘third-world colony’ right here in the United States. Prison systems outsource prisoners for slave labor to major corporations for pennies per day. Prisoners perform data entry and work auto industry jobs that used to belong to free-world workers. The workers left unemployed become the desperate criminals of tomorrow, getting locked up and getting their old union job back … in the prison factory … for pennies a day.” – From “Why Should Free-World Workers Care About Prisoners?” in The Incarcerated Worker, Issue 2: Summer 2015, a publication of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)

Revolutionary greetings, comrades and fellow workers. Well, here we are four years later and the analysis of the IWOC (Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee) and the NABPP-PC should be starting to hit home and resonate in your heart, mind and soul.

It is our intention to transform “prison slaves” into respected and productive members of the international proletariat movement. As a proletarian, YOU, the sister or brother sitting on your bunk, or in your cubicle, or in the day room reading this essay – YOU are a WORKER and not a SLAVE. Your lives matter, and you have great potential to be an extremely productive and successful member of the new society we are struggling to create.

It is our intention to transform “prison slaves” into respected and productive members of the international proletariat movement.

As deputy chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, Prison Chapter, and as the chief spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement, I wear many hats but without a doubt my most impor­tant task is to ensure that I adhere to our PARTY LINE and teach as well as uphold it.

Many may view me as the “hype man” of our movement; however, I have assumed the responsibility to awaken and then develop the class conscious worker. In order to provide you with a clear and concise explanation of the class conscious worker, allow me to quote our minister of defense, Comrade Kevin “Rashid” Johnson.

Comrade Rashid says: 1) “The class conscious worker can be of two sorts: the militant and the revolutionary. The militant worker takes sense of commitment beyond the family into the workplace and will stand up to the bosses for workers’ rights, even to the extent of jeopardizing one’s employment, freedom and safety by participating in strikes and job actions.”

Comrades, for the past couple of years we have seen thousands of prisoners all across the United States and some in Europe and Canada embrace class consciousness and join in our solidarity actions. Now we are engaged in a process of revolutionary development, so allow Comrade Rashid to explain the other aspect of the class conscious worker.

Rashid continues: 2) “The revolutionary worker takes the sense of commitment even further and challenges the oppressive social order to change the social relations for ALL and put an end to class exploitation and oppression once and for all. The revolutionary is inspired by a great LOVE for the people and sense of DUTY to the masses and to future generations.”

And this, my respected sisters and brothers, is our aspiration and hope for ALL OF US throughout the United States, Europe, Asia the Middle East to include Israel where my Palestinian home girls and home boys are trapped in Israeli slave kamps and gulags. We are seeking to revolutionize the way you think and act.

Knockin’ doors down

Comrades, the theme I have chosen for this year’s Prison Abolition Struggle is “Knockin’ Doors Down.” Chad Butler, better known as Pimp-C of the rap duo UGK, penned a smash rap hit entitled “Knockin Doorz Down” before his untimely and some say mysterious death.

The lyrics were directed to hip-hop and rap artists in the music industry who had allow­ed themselves to be manipulated, exploited and turned against one ano­ther by the corporate capitalist pigs who run the major record labels in Amerikkka. Some may liken them to the pigs who operate Texas prisons and numerous other departments of corrections throughout the U.S. Whether you want to admit it or not, we have allowed ourselves to be PLAYED. Oh – they ain’t gonna like this one, y’all.

For decades, approximately five major corporations have run the record industry, telling artists what type of lyrics they can write, what topics were taboo, and what CDs would be allowed to drop and when. They even control what songs get serious rotation on local radio stations.

In order to control independent or “renegade artists” like Tupac Shakur, the major record executives have actually created beefs and rivalries between artists who for all intents and purposes should have been allies and comrades in struggle against these pigs. So Pimp-C made a clarion call of solidarity and unity among all hip-hop artists and rappers, especially in my city of Houston, Texas.

Basically Pimp-C was saying: “Let’s stop all the cappin’ and dissin’ and get this money together. Forget them corporate pigs. Let’s make our own record labels and distribute our own artistic product.”

The theme I have chosen for this year’s Prison Abolition Struggle is “Knockin’ Doors Down.”

“Knockin’ Doors Down” calls us to destroy all boundaries and walls which separate us and keep us from striving for the greater good of all humanity. As you can see, I’ve taken this concept and applied to our Prison Abolition Movement.

Comrades Swift Justice and Kinetik Justice of the Free Alabama Movement and I have come to the decision that it is wise for us to work more closely together and attempt to achieve some REAL GOALS like voting rights. But that isn’t all; we also want to open up a couple other “fronts” in order to confront and destroy the School to Prison Pipeline and join in solidarity with our immigrant sisters and brothers along with their children as they seek to either gain asylum or just be treated like human beings and not like cattle. All this falls under the auspices of ENDING PRISON SLAVERY.

The vanguard in Texas

Now the vanguard in Texas that is actually trying to change things in a positive way is made up of a loosely connected collective of Anarchists, New Afrikans, Mandingos, Muslims and others who have embraced the strategy and tactics of direct action. We are a small but very vocal minority who file lawsuits, write grievances, and engage in journalism, organizing and educating the people, our fellow prisoners. Our “watch words” are RESIST AND REBEL.

With the help of various Anarchist collectives across the nation and Europe – Canada too – we’ve been able to launch some successful political projects. Last year’s International Solidarity Action which took place on June 19, 2018, was one such project, and another project which has become extremely relevant this year in Texas is the Bamboozled Zine that Austin ABC and Central Texas ABC helped me and Norris “Fajr” Hicks create. Fajr is the other co-founder of this awesome movement which seeks to End Prison Slavery in Texas.

Bamboozled focuses on the fraudulent good time and work time credit system inside Texas prisons. If there is one thing that I have found that will get Blacks, Mexicans and whites to cooperate together in Texas, it is when we focus on a COMMON G0AL – and I can tell you WE ALL WANT TO BE FREE. Sooner rather than later. You feel me?

Our “watch words” are RESIST AND REBEL.

Texas has set-up a horribly corrupt and biased parole system, and it has been like this for DECADES.

One of our core demands during this year’s legislative session in Texas is to have legislators address this fraudulent credit system and create new laws which give us reasonable and realistic opportuni­ties toward gaining our FREEDOM. For the most part, legislators in Texas have continued to ignore our demands for a more equitable and fair parole system even as we have seen reported in the media that Texas prison officials often SET UP prisoners with bogus and fabri­cated disciplinary cases when they near PAROLE ELIGIBILITY.

This is not fantasy, y’all. This is a fact. All you had to do is read the Houston Chronicle or even the Prison Legal News last year and you can see for yourself what these unscrupulous violators of the public’s trust have been doing to hold us hostage down here so they can have them some well trained slaves to till they damn fields. We the prisoners in Texas are going to have to organize and act soon. BUT WE WON’T BE TELEGRAPHIN’ OUR MOVES.

Independent oversight

On a very positive note, we had one of our core demands recognized. The jury is still out on whether or not the bills will pass, but I can tell you that two Black Texas legislators from Houston have heard our pleas for independent oversight.

It is not exactly what we have been proposing, but Texas Rep. Jarvis Johnson, D-Houston, and Texas Sen. Borris Miles, also D-Houston, have drafted identical pieces of legislation that call for the creation of an Independent Ombudsman Office. If you are interested, you can have your family or friends research these current proposed pieces of legislation: SB-188 and HB-363.

The current Ombudsman Office is under the umbrella of TDCJ and is about as effective as the current Offender Grievance System. Prisoners and their family as well as friends all across Texas will tell you that the grievance and ombudsman systems are ineffective, corrupt, biased and an absolute waste of taxpayer dollars. These people down here are stealing money from taxpayers, giving our folks the impression that they have some kind of honorable vehicle for review of our complaints.

Texas Rep. Jarvis Johnson, D-Houston, and Texas Sen. Borris Miles, also D-Houston, have drafted identical pieces of legislation that call for the creation of an Independent Ombudsman Office [see here also for more info and HB3303 -ed.].

What Rep. Johnson and Sen. Miles are proposing is placing the current TDCJ Ombudsman Office under the purview of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. My main problem with this is that all we will be doing is changing offices but retaining the same corrupt and unethical individuals working the program. For meaningful change, we need to CLEAN HOUSE AND START OVER.

The current TDCJ Ombudsman Office serves as a liaison between the public and these un-ethical pigs who run these slave kamps and gulags. My experience and the experience of my close comrades and friends has shown us that many of the current ombudsperson’s staff used to be ranking TDCJ employees who worked inside these prison facilities. One I know of is Jane Cockerham who on more than one occasion responded to our complaints in such a manner as to cover up and conceal mistreatment, abuse or unconstitutional living conditions, and I do have proof.

In the past three years my support network has filed more ombudsman com­plaints on my behalf and for other prisoners than any other support network in Texas. Now all of our complaints and responses are supposed to be available to the public – so all you have to do is email the Ombudsman Office and request to see all the complaints filed on behalf of Keith H. Washington, TDC 1487958 within the past three years.

One thing I can say is that I admire both of these Black legislators from H-Town because they not just acknowledged the flawed office, they have taken active steps to fix it. I encourage everyone of you reading this article to have your family or friends who have ever utilized this corrupt Ombudsman Office to resolve complaints to con­tact Rep. Johnson or Sen. Miles and ask them when the committee hearing is scheduled for these bills and, if you choose, how you can testify on behalf of yourselves and your loved ones. We need to make our experiences public so the world can hear how Texas has violated our rights consistently.

The power is in the people

“Kill Yourself” – Art: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, 264847, Pendleton Correctional Facility, G-20-2C, 4490 W. Reformatory Road, Pendleton, IN 46064

As I said previously here, Swift Justice, Kinetik Justice and myself have come to the realization that re-enfranchisement is a goal we would like to achieve for ALL PRISONERS and former prisoners. I believe the state of Texas already has a law on the books which grants former prisoners their right to vote after they have completed their sentences and finished parole.

Florida recently passed a law which restored the voting rights of over a million women and men. However, there was a major flaw in the Florida legislation. It excluded murderers and those with sex offenses.

My problem is this: The U.S. Constitution has an Equal Protection Clause under the 14th Amendment. Now, if you are going to restore voting rights to some and not ALL, that presents a serious constitutional question. I am hoping that the Human Rights Defense Center will address that anomaly in the law. And by the way, I send out a clenched fist salute to PAUL WRIGHT of PRISON LEGAL NEWS.

For decades – maybe even over a century – white supremacist politicians and lobbyists have come up with creative ways to stop prisoners and former prisoners from voting. We even saw a free world “agent” in North Carolina trying to sabotage the vote of free world folks during the mid-terms. However, when we consider that 85 percent of all prisoners will eventually someday be released to society, WE MUST FIGHT FOR OUR RIGHT TO VOTE SO OUR VOICES CAN BE HEARD.

I’m not going to keep quiet while Texas legislators like Sen. John Whitmire misrepresent our interests. When prisoners were down here dying of heat stroke, Sen. Whitmire was lobbying against air conditioning – FACT.

Swift Justice, Kinetik Justice and myself have come to the realization that re-enfranchisement is a goal we would like to achieve for ALL PRISONERS and former prisoners.

When Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner was a member of the Texas Legislature, he crafted a bill that called for zero tolerance of retaliation against those who file grievances or federal civil complaints. Sen. Whitmire stopped the bill – claiming that TDCJ already had policies prohibiting retaliation.

Sen. Whitmire knew good and well what was happening down here to litigators such as myself and Kevin “Rashid” Johnson. And Rashid’s case is exceptionally disturbing because there were deaths of Texas prisoners at the hands of TDCJ prison guards – and Sen. Whitmire pretty much was complicit in the retaliation against Rashid when TDCJ prison officials conspired with the Florida Department of Corrections to send Rashid away when he exposed circumstances that showed these deaths of prisoners at the Bill Clements High Security Unit were actually MURDERS.

And there is no statute of limitation on murder or investigating cold cases, folks. Even now in the heated climate and atmosphere in which Texas citizens are screaming for independent oversight, we have legislators like Texas Rep. James White who claim everything is all right. NO need to change the system, Rep. White has been saying. Sisters and brothers, this system is BROKEN, period.

We must secure our voting rights and use them so we can vote Whit­mire and other Dixiecrats like him out of office. We the people have power if we tap into it.

Y’all reading this essay knew it wasn’t going to be no “Jeffin House Negro” and “Uncle Tom Trash.” I am a servant of the people and I’m gonna put the truth and the facts in they face. We must collectively encourage our loved ones and friends in the free world to get directly involved in the political process. Attend a committee hearing, send an email, make a phone call, organize a rally or a protest. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD.

We must secure our voting rights and use them so we can vote Whit­mire and other Dixiecrats like him out of office. We the people have power if we tap into it.

Why should prisoners join the IWW?

Sisters and brothers, I am going to end this provocative essay with an invitation to all prisoners in the United States, Europe, Canada, Asia, the Middle-East, Africa, as well as South and Central Amerika to join our ranks of fellow workers. I will quote a section right from our wonderful publication: The Incarcerated Worker:

“The majority of people in prison will get out and return to prison again. The prison system creates a class of people unable to suc­cessfully advocate for themselves, robbing them of necessary skills, catching them in a revolving door.”

“Prisons are used for economic purposes. Prisons are a way to lock up the unemployed and to create desperate people to work rotten jobs at low pay. This serves the interests of the rich and power­ful and it harms the workers and the poor.”

“Prisons are used for political purposes. Prisons lock away the poor, those who are in favor of more ‘radical’ solutions. Taking away votes and power from the poor communities, prisons ensure that politicians will be puppets of the war mongers and fear mongers.”

“Prisons are used for demographic purposes. Black men are the largest segment of the prison population. Black women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population. Prisons are used to maintain radical inequalities.”

“Children with at least one parent in prison are far more likely to go to prison also. Children of prisoners are the prison pop­ulation of tomorrow. The cycle continues for generations.”

“You cannot change this situation through a grievance process that doesn’t work or through courts that are clearly against you or through petitions to lawmakers who don’t care about you because you don’t vote or through hunger strikes against prison officials who want you to starve or through letters to newspapers who have ignored this situation for decades.”

“We know what will happen if you DON’T join the INDUSTRIAL WORKERS of the WORLD (IWW). Let’s see what happens when you DO. PRISONER MEMBERSHIP IS FREE. Join the Industrial Workers of the World TODAY. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS.”

Comrades, I’m leaving you with some addresses for the IWOC, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, so you can get your application to both the IWW and IWOC. Basically we are one organization but the IWOC exclusively serves our incar­cerated fellow workers. THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES. Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win, All Power to the People.

Contacts:

  • Kansas City IWW and IWOC, P.O. Box 414304, Kansas City, MO 64141-4304
  • Oakland IWOC, P.O. Box 6305, Oakland, CA 94603
  • Milwaukee IWOC, P.O. Box 342294, Milwaukee, WI 53234
  • UK IWOC, P.O. Box 7593, Glasgow, G42 2EX, UK

Postscript: A call to action

Sisters and brothers, I am sending out a national call and request for civil and human rights lawyers to take an interest in the struggles of my comrade and friend Jason Renard Walker as well as myself. Jason and I have been subjected to a coordinated campaign of harassment, retaliation and racial hatred by employees of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (sic.). White supremacist Klansmen jumped on my comrade Jason in November 2018 at the Ellis Unit located in Huntsville, Texas.

Even the federal courts have joined in the campaign against Jason and I. I have had a “mysterious” Fusion Center Report placed in my file and, without a board certified lawyer, we may never know exactly what is in that report and why this corrupt and unethical agency refuses to release me from Ad-Seg. We need help gaining the attention of Texas legislators now that the legislative session has begun.

I’d also like to echo the call of Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun of the Free Alabama Movement as he has called for the creation of an app whereby lawyers, activists and legal aid organizations can gain direct immediate access to the various abolition movements and groups throughout the United Snakes of Amerika as well as Europe and gain specific information about our various struggles – right now.

I am hoping that Queen Tahiyrah’s words proclaiming Justice in 2019 will prove to be prophetic as we head into unchartered territory in a tumultuous world. It most definitely is time to END PRISON SLAVERY and together we will achieve that goal. UHURU! Free Comrade Jason! Free Comrade Malik! FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!

Send our brother some love and light: Keith Washington, 1487958, McConnell Unit, 3100 S. Emily Dr., Beeville TX 78103.

The Struggle for Prison Abolition Continues: Battleground UK and Amerika!

Revolutionary Greetings, Comrades!

“To rise beyond the limits of protest, we must chart out our political intentions, organizational goals, and a larger vision about our direction. First, and foremost, militant self-defense, and the capacity for larger militant actions must be addressed at the inception of the organizing process. While we must defend people from capitivity as well as our political centers, we must also be astute enough to realize that we cannot be on the defense indefinitely. The state is in a weaker position today than it has been in decades, and since the moment we go into action is up to us, the government invariably remains in a defensive position. WE CAN ACT WHEN WE CHOOSE, AND WE SHOULD ACT WISELY.” – Burn Down the American Plantation, by the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement

We opened here with some powerful words. I suggest you read the opening statement again and fully understand and grasp the meaning of the message we are trying to convey to you.

In Florida we have witnessed with our own eyes the lengths the state will go to in order to sabotage the effectiveness of our pre-planned direct actions. Our actions seek to shed a discerning spotlight on the corrupt practices of the Department of Corrections. However, pre-emptive lockdowns have been the go-to tactic of numerous prison agencies across the United States.

Like President Trump, they (the corrupt prison agencies) don’t want to be exposed, they want to continue on, in a business as usual manner. It is our duty to disrupt and destroy these slave kamps and gulags.

As illustrated and explained by our comrade Kevin “Rashid” Johnson[1], the “lay-down” in Florida prisons was called for extremely valid reasons:

A) forced slave labor – FDOC prisoners are forced to work without pay.
B) grossly overpriced commissary and package system – Florida is extorting the poorest cross-section of society!
C) murdering and abusing prisoners with impunity and then covering it up!

Florida is sanctioning and condoning the outright murder of prisoners in their care. A horrific case in point is the case of Darren Rainey2.

On June 23rd, 2012, Darren Rainey was locked in a scaldingly hot shower by corrections officers who had rigged the shower so they could punish prisoners who “acted out”. These were mentally ill prisoners housed at the Dade Correctional Institution.
In late January, 2018, the State of Florida announced that it would award $4.5 million to Darren Rainey’s family. Nevertheless, Miami-Dade State Attorney, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, refused to prosecute former corrections officers Ronald Clarke and Cornelius Thompson. So in essence, these pieces of trash have been allowed to get away with murder!

One of our key organizational goals in Florida should be to force the resignation of State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle! Fire her now! There is no way in hell that the State approves an award of $4.5 million and no-one is held accountable for the loss of life!

What kind of message do you think is being sent to the pigs? “We protect our own”, that is the message. I want to explore this phrase, “we protect our own”, more thoroughly, but before I delve deeper, allow me to remind all of you that our struggle for prison abolition is a protracted struggle and the state targets the most advanced political elements.

Florida is attempting to place an inciting to riot charge on Comrade Rashid, but this smacks of an elaborate plan to retaliate against Rashid for exercising the same protected free-speech rights as reports and journalists at the Miami Herald!

Compare Rashid’s piece, Florida Prisoners Are Laying It Down, to Monique O Madan’s piece which was published by the Miami Herald on January 3rd 2018, entitled “Florida Prisoners to Protest Again…” Florida is blatantly violating Rashid’s constitutional rights!

We Protect Our Own – The Texas Way!

It is strange to me when I see members of the Attorney General’s office in Texas conspiring to harm a prisoner who witnessed a murder! The pieces of the puzzle are slowly falling into place.
Christopher WoolvertonThomas SchmerberArcade Comeaux and Alton Rodgers, all of them abused and/or murdered by prison employees at the Bill Clements Unit located at Amarillo, Texas.[3]

Attorney Jesse Quackenbush is representing a couple of the families here in Texas who have filed multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuits against the State of Texas. (See: August 2017 issue of Prison Legal News as well as The InterceptAmarillo.com.)

Comrade Kevin “Rashid” Johnson exposed the pattern of abuse and murder which regularly takes place at the Bill Clements Unit. In 2017, prison officials conspired with members of the Texas Attorney General’s office to get some “payback” for Rashid’s courageous journalism.

First, they planted a weapon in his cell, then they stole all his legal materials, and when these actions generated a public outcry, they conspired with the State of Florida and spirited Rashid off to a Florida prison, deleting all information which would help concerned friends and supporters find Rashid! If it wasn’t for the passionate work of National Lawyers’ Guild Attorney Paul S. Holdorf Esq, Rashid may have never been successfully located.

The point I want to make is this: there is a systematic and pervasive problem in US prisons where members of State Attorney General officers collude and conspire with members of their various prison agencies to cover-up the abuse and murder of prisoners and shield murderous prison employees from being held accountable for their actions.

Furthermore, we are also seeing a pattern in which prisoners who identify as humyn rights activists and jail house lawyers are literally being marked for death and systematically targeted for co-ordinated retaliatory actions.

Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton is complicit in these collusive acts and the FBI and Department of Justice seem to be 100% on board with the “We Protect Our Own” strategy.

Focusing in on Our Demands

Comrades, in each state and country there are prisoners and victims of modern-day slavery perpetrated by agents of the state! As a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), I am keenly aware of the problems that prisoners everywhere face. I would like to highlight some of the specific issues our imprisoned comrades face with the hope of promoting greater unity and understanding among our free-world supporters and imprisoned allies – so we can address these issues.

United Kingdom

Comrades, please let me be perfectly clear when I say that the pigs in London are just as corrupt as the pigs in Amerika – period.
Chairman Mao Tze Tung said “no investigation, no right to speak”. With that in mind, I’ll let all of you know I’ve done my research on the pigs in the UK[4]:

If I were to come up with a list of demands for our free-world comrades in the UK, the first would be:

  1. Tell the pigs to stop murdering our people – or else!
  2. Replace every member of the Independent Police Complaints Commission!
  3. Fire every member of the Crown Prosecution Service!

Radical demands? Well, guess what? I’m a radical – surprise!

UK Prisons[5]
The criminal justice system in the UK is racist to the core! This is actually supported by information published in a government report and reviewed by Labour MP David LammyLammy found a clear, direct link between ethinicity and the likelihood of receiving a prison sentence if you are Black or Asian and living in the United Kingdom![6]

Remarkably, the number of Muslim prisoners more than doubled between 2002 and 2016, going from 5,502 to 12,663. Muslims now represent 4.4% of the total UK population, but 15% of the prison population in the UK. Can you say “Islamophobia”, Theresa May?[7]

The prisons in the UK are overcrowded and violent, and the Ministry of Justice has decided to ratchet up the stress and discontent levels by banning tobacco in all closed prisons by the summer of 2018![8]

Many of the prisons in the UK are suffering from deterioration and infrastructure decay. Prisons such as Long Lartin in Evesham, Worcestershire. Long Lartin is the oldest of the prisons designated as high security in the UK, and the only prison in which prisoners on some wings don’t have toilets and they still have to “slop out”![9]

In other words, humyn beings are forced to urinate and defecate in a bucket in their cells, and if the guards decide to not allow them to “slop out”, then they are stuck in a toxic environment.

This is just one of the reasons that I have made an international call for solidarity to end prison slavery on June 19th, 2018.[10]

Nothing more clearly illustrates modern day slavery in the UK than the ultra-corrupt Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP) policy. This scandalous policy, which was supposed to be abolished in 2012, continues to allow over 3,300 prisoners to be held hostages years after serving their minimum tarriff (sentence). Release IPP prisoners in the UK now! End prison slavery in the UK now!

Before I move on, I am officially inviting prisoners in the UK to join the Incarcerated Workers’ Organizing Committee, and as Deputy Chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter), I am sending out a special invitation to UK prisoners to join the Black Panthers now!

Be advised that under the banner of the NABPP (PC), we have mass organizations for White Panthers, as well as Asian Panthers, and under the auspices of the United Panther movement I invite all street tribe members in UK prisons to consider joining the movement which seeks to abolish prison slavery.

To join the IWOC, contact:

UK: IWW/IWOC, PO Box 7593, Glasgow, G42 2EX
USA: IWW/IWOC, PO Box 414304, Kansas City, MO, 64141-4304

To join the NABPP (PC), contact:
Comrade Malik, c/o Twitch, PO Box 7907, Austin, Texas, 78713, USA

Amerikkka – the slave state!

Comrades, without a doubt there are common issues which plague every prison population in the world, but now I will list some specific issues and challenges we face here in Amerika!

Indiana – In Indiana, comrades Kwame Shakur and Khalfani Malik Khaldun struggle hard against “legalized” slavery in Amerika.[11] In retaliation to their efforts, and the efforts of numerous other politicized prisoners in Indiana, the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) has instituted a new correspondence policy which forbids prisoners to receive or send materials and/or literature on blank paper!

Not only is this an infringement on their 1st Amendment rights, it infringes on their ability to litigate and receive information of any kind! The agency’s main goal is to isolate and silence the voices of all Indiana prisoners.

Alabama – Free Alabama Movement spokespersyn has initiated a Campaign to Redistribute the Pain in 2018.[12] These boycott campaigns, spear-headed by FAM, seek to defund and bankrupt the capitalist pig corporations which prey on the poor masses who are trapped in prisons all across the “great” slave state of Amerika.

I am in full support of Bennu’s campaign, and this is one of the many tactics and strategies employed by the IWOC to end prison slavery in Amerika.

I would like to add that many of the high-ranking prison administrators and prison employees who abuse and oppress us are black. Yes, it’s true! So when you think it’s all about “whitey” keeping us down, think again – in ole Alabama there are many Uncle Toms and jeffin-ass House Negroes hurting the people. Remember that.

California – In California, Heshima Denham of the Amend the 13th Movement and Fati Yero Kambon of the WL Nolen Mentorship Program (WLNMP) have been pushing a dynamic initiative entitled: A Proposal for Developing a Community Release Board.[13]
This would be paired with another initiative referred to as Strategic Release.
The bottomline is this: prisoners in California, especially New Afrikan prisoners, are actually creating realistic avenues for freedom which can be utilized by all.

Kijana Tashiri Askari is the chair of the WLNMP, and he is committed to providing quality education and life skills to a new generation of aspiring freedom fighters and community leaders. Something wonderful is happening inside and outside of California prisons.

On the outside, prison abolitionist Nube Brown of California Prison Focus has teamed up with Marissa Garcia, Anna Murillo and numerous others to form a coalition known as the New Abolitionist Movement.

It is important for all imprisoned activists and freedom fighters to know that, without a dedicated cadre of outside supporters like Nube Brown, Kim Pollak, Mary Ratcliff, Dr Willie Ratcliff, Julie Sands, Noelle Hanrahan, Carole Seligman, Justin Adkins, Victor Wallis, Jamani Montague, and last but not least Brianna of the IWOC, nobody in the free world would hear our voices!

And then there are the unsung sheroes and heroes! Julie Schneyer, Sam Rosen, Ryan Policht, Michael Novick, Twitch Entropy, and our European comrades Annabelle from Prison Watch, Heinz Leitner and Alina Dollat – abolitionists!

Before I end this piece, I want to give a clenched fist salute to Calvin Burnap and Professor Dean Spade in Seattle, Washington.

Texas

In Texas, we face numerous problems, and dedicated members of the IWOC have helped us assemble a list of demands we will be requesting our family and friends to present to Texas legislators this year.

On Juneteenth (June 19th, 2018), I am calling for all Texas prisoners and all prisoners throughout the US, and our free-world supporters, to take time to meditate and reflect on past struggles for the abolition of slavery, as well as preparing for the struggle we have ahead of us. The most important thing I am requesting prisoners in Texas to do is contact their family and friends.

We want to provide Texas prisoners with the email addresses and fax numbers of key Texas legislators so prisoners can urge their family and friends to contact them and provide them with our core demands, which are:

1 The Right to Habeas Counsel – Every indigent prisoner in Texas should be appointed Habeas Counsel when filing their 11.07 Habeas Corpus.

2 End the “Quorum of One” practice for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

3 Meaningful Good Time/Work Time and Presumptive Parole – When Good Time, Work Time and Flat Time equal 100% of their sentence, a Texas prisoner should be presumed to automatically make parole or discharge!

4 Payment/Compensation for Forced Labor: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms” – Article 4, Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

5 End the $100 Medical Co-Pay.

6 TDCJ Oversight Committee – This is a bill that has been up for a vote in the past two Texas legislative sessions. It will require all grievances to be processed and investigated by an independent outside organization. Prisoners in Texas are dying and being murdered and abused by staff at an alarming rate and we need independent oversight of this corrupt agency right now![14]

Comrades, I was just studying the Yule-Winter 2017-2018 edition of Earth First! The Journal of Ecological Resistance.

I came across an article by Al Williams entitled “What We Learnt by Coordinating a Month of Rolling Resistance Against Cuadrilla at Preston New Road.” I came away with some excellent tactics and strategies which we can adopt for our abolition movement.

  1. Direct action is for everyone! Work strikes, hunger strikes, tear these slave kamps down!
  2. Engaging other activist collectives helps form an inclusive, diverse alliance.
  3. Diversity of tactics is key when deploying mutiple direct actions against police forces (or prisoncrats) who know we are coming! (Juneteenth, y’all!)
  4. Alternative media is an important lever when the national news in the UK or US isn’t shining a light on prison slavery or abuse of prisoners.
  5. Corruption, collusion and violence are now endemic throughout the world!

Comrades, I wrote this essay with the intent of promoting international solidarity as we approach Juneteenth. Let’s plan to do something big.

Dare to struggle, dare to win. All power to the people.

Your Brother and Comrade, Malik


Keith “Malik” Washington is a co-founder and chief spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement, a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and 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, 1487958, Eastham Unit, 2665 Prison Rd. 1, Lovelady, Texas 75851.


[1] Florida Prisoners are Laying it Down by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson (January 2018), also at rashidmod.com

[2] Florida OKs $4.5 million payout for brutal prison shower death of Darren Rainey, by Julie K Brown, Miami Herald, January 26, 2018

[3] Malnourished Prisoner’s Death Reveals Horrific Conditions in a Texas Prison, by Creede Newton, The InterceptTexas Prisoner was Emaciated and Sick when Killed by Cellmate, Prison Legal News – August 2017, pg 27

[4] Danny Dorling review, “Burn – Collective Memory is the Fire that Never Dies by Ken Fero”, Strike! Magazine, Sept-Oct 2015, issue 13

[5] Exposed: ‘racial bias’ in England and Wales criminal justice system, https://www.theguardian.com/law/2017/sep/08/racial-bias-uk-criminal-justice-david-lammy

[6] https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/lammy-review

[7] The Muslim Prison Population Has Surged, Here’s Why The ‘Stereotypes And Myths’ Are Wrong, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/lammy-review-muslim-prisoners_uk_59afcaa0e4b0b5e531022f26https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/lammy-review

[8] Smoking bans are sparking a rise in violence and disorder in UK prisons, http://theconversation.com/smoking-bans-are-sparking-a-rise-in-violence-and-disorder-in-uk-prisons-83990

[9] Prisons inspector condemns Long Lartin’s ‘cages’ and slopping out, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/jan/10/cages-slopping-out-long-lartin-jail, Long Lartin prison criticised over slopping out, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hereford-worcester-16483319

[10] See http://smashipp.noflag.org.uk/

[11] San Francisco Bay View, September 2017, “Kwame Shakur indicts legalized slavery” by Kwame “Beans” Shakur

[12] San Francisco Bay View, September 2017, “We must affect the bottom line” by Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun

[13] The WL Nolen Mentorship Program (WLNMP): A Proposal for Developing a Community Release Board by Fati Yero Kambon. / New Afrikan Community Parole, Pardon and Clemency Review Board, Mission Statement.

[14] Demands for Battleground 2018/19 by IWOC members

[15] Earth First! Journal, Yule 2017/2018, “What We Learnt by Coordinating a Month of Rolling Resistance Against Cuadrilla at Preston New Road” by Al Williams.


This article was first published on the website of the Incarcerated Workers IWOC, Feb. 25, 2018
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