Breaking The Silence

breakingthesilence

Vanessa has been imprisoned for over 20 years in Texas, much of which has been in administrative segregation, where abuse at the hands of prison guards runs rampant.  In this brave and graphic piece, she discusses first hand experience as both witness and victim of abuse that is sadly the everyday reality for inmates across the nation.  At the end of the zine she calls for action from the reader to contact TDCJ and state officials to hold guards accountable by doing away with the current grievance system.

An imposed and print ready version of the zine can be found here.
Booklet breakingthesilence

Please distribute these widely!  Some ideas of where to pass these out or leave a stack:  infoshops, book stores, coffee shops, libraries, youth centers, homeless shelters, public parks, the capitol, etc.

INTRODUCTION

I DEDICATE BREAKING THE SILENCE TO XY-AN EXTREMELY WONDERFUL AND PASSIONATE FRIEND THAT HAS BLESSED ME WITH HER FRIENDSHIP AND LOVE. I LOVE YOU AND IT MEANS THE WORLD TO ME TO HAVE YOU IN MY LIFE! NOT A DAY THAT GOES BY THAT I’M NOT GRATEFUL FOR YOU OR THE OPPORTUNITIES YOU HAVE GAVEN ME TO IMPROVE TDCJ AND TO SPEAK OUT ABOUT THE SENSELESS ABUSE WE SUFFER IN THE TEXAS PRISON SYSTEM! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR CARING AND LOVING ME WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE TO!!!


I ALSO WANT TO THANK ANNA, ERICA AND THE REST OF THE WONDERFUL PEOPLE THAT HAVE WORKED TIRELESSLY TO END MASS INCARCERATION AND OTHER FORMS OF OFFICIAL OPPRESSION. WITHOUT YOU, IT WOULD BE A LIVING NIGHTMARE! I EXTREMELY APPRECIATE YOUR LOVE AND HARD WORK! IT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!

  BREAKING THE SILENCE IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME BECAUSE I’M TIRED OF SEEING GUARDS SENSELESSLY ABUSE INMATES AND ESCAPE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR CRIMES! BREAKING THE SILENCE IS ABOUT GUARD BRUTALITY AND THE TACTICS THEY USE TO ABUSE INMATES AND TO COVER UP THEIR CRIMES.

IT’S ALSO A CALL TO ACTION TO HOLD GUARDS ACCOUNTABLE!

  GUARD BRUTALITY IS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY BECAUSE IT CONSTITUTES TORTURE AND IT AFFECTS 2.2 MILLION PRISONERS IN SOME WAY OR THE OTHER! ONE MIGHT SAY “HELL NO, GUARDS ARE NOT TORTURING AND MURDERING INMATES” BUT IT HAPPENS MORE THEN YOU COULD EVER REALIZE, AND IT’S TIME TO END THIS ABUSE! I HAVE WITNESSED GUARDS MURDER TWO INMATES. THIS OCCURRED ON THE ESTELLE HIGH SECURITY UNIT, IN HUNTSVILLE, TEXAS. I HAVE WITNESSED GUARDS BEAT INMATES HALF TO DEATH, AND ALLOW INMATES TO COMMIT SUICIDE OR STAND BY IDELY AND LET AN INMATE BLEED TO DEATH OR HANG UNTIL THEY DIE, THEN CALL MEDICAL!

  THIS IS COLD BLOODED MURDER IN EVERY SENSE OF THE MEANING BECAUSE, AS A GUARD, THEY HAVE A DUTY TO STOP A PRISONER FROM COMMITTING SUICIDE. IN ALOT OF CASES, THE INMATE DIES BECAUSE GUARDS REFUSE TO DO CPR OR TO TAKE A THREAT SERIOUSLY. I HAVE HAD GUARDS TO TELL ME THAT IT COST TOO MUCH MONEY TO TAKE CARE OF A PRISONER THAT IS BRAIN DEAD, SO IN ALOT OF CASES, IT’S BETTER TO LET THE INMATE DIE THEN TO SAVE THEM!

  TDCJ ONLY INSURES A PRISONER FOR $150.000. IT COST ALOT OF MONEY TO TAKE CARE OF A BRAIN DEAD INMATE! WHAT THE REAL SHOCKER IS: AS LONG AS A GUARD FINDS A PRISONER WHO CUT OR HUNG HIMSELF OR HERSELF WITH IN 30 MINUTES, THEY DON’T GET IN TROUBLE!

  GUARDS IN TEXAS ARE NOTORIOUSLY KNOWN FOR BEATING INMATES. THE GUARDS HAVE BEEN BEATING INMATES FOR ALONG LONG TIME, AND IN THE LAST 22 YEARS THAT I HAVE BEEN IN THIS HELL HOLE THE FBI HAS INVESTIGATED TDCJ FOR ALL KINDS OF CRIMES!

  IT IS SAD BECAUSE NOTHING IS BEING DONE ABOUT IT! THE GUARDS CAN STOMP A PRISONERS FACE IN AND KICK THEIR TEETH OUT OF THEIR MONTH AND ALL THE EVIDENCE WILL SHOW THAT THE GUARDS USED EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE AND NOTHING WILL HAPPEN TO THE GUARDS BECAUSE THE PEOPLE THAT ARE INVESTIGATING OR HOLDING A HEARING-WORKS FOR TDCJ, AND IT’S A KNOWN FACT THAT TDCJ IS BUILT ON THE BUDDY SYSTEM! THE DIRECTOR, WARDENS, ETC HAVE WORKED THEIR WAY THROUGH THE FILE AND RANK, AND THEY HAVE BEEN COVERING UP GUARD BRUTALITY AND TEACHING OTHER GURADS HOW TO ABUSE INMATES AND HOW TO ESCAPE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YEARS!

     I KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING MIGHT SEEM LIKE LIES, BUT THE THINGS I’M REPORTING HAS BEEN DOCUMENTED. I’M NOT ASKING YOU TO TAKE MY WORD FOR IT BUT I’M ENCOURAGING YOU TO TALK TO THE HUMAN RIGHT WATCH, THE ACLU AND THE TEXAS PRISON LEAGUE, AND THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT!

 I HOPE THE FOLLOWING WILL INSPIRE YOU TO DO YOUR OWN INVESTIGATION AND TO BECOME MORE INVOLVED IN PRISON RIGHTS, ETC. BECAUSE ONLY YOU CAN STOP THIS ABUSE! AND THE WAY YOU DO IT IS TO DEMAND THAT THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND CONGRESS TO PASS LAWS THAT HOLDS GUARDS ACCOUNTABLE, AND TO GET THE GRIEVANCE SYSTEM OUT OF THE CONTROL OF TDCJ!


“GUARD GANGS”

  THROUGHOUT TDCJ’S HISTORY GUARD GANGS HAVE EXISTED AND THEY WERE DESIGNED TO ABUSE INMATES. TO BECOME APART OF THESE GANGS, GUARDS HAD TO BEAT OR WORSE, KILL A PRISONER! IN MODERN HISTORY, THE MOST FEARED GANG WAS THE BLUE BANDANA GANG AND THE GOLDEN BOYS. EVERY PRISONER IN TDCJ KNOWS ABOUT THE BLUE BANDANA GANG, AND EVEN THE HARDEN PRISONERS FEARED THEM BECAUSE THEY EXTREMELY BRUTAL. WARDENS, MAJORS,ETC WERE APART OF THIS GANG.

  THE BLUE BANDANA GANG KEPT BLUE RAGS IN THEIR BACK POCKETS, AND THEY WERE ALL OVER THE SYSTEM! MOST GUARD GANGS OR CLICKS ARE CONFINDED TO THE UNIT WHERE THEY WORK.

  IN THE LAST 10 TO 15 YEARS, THE BLUE BANDANA GANG HAS BASICALLY BECAME NONEXISTENT; HOWEVER, THE GUARDS STILL WORK FOR THE SYSTEM.

  ON THE ESTELLE UNIT, THE OFFICERS HAD A GANG CALLED: THE GOLDEN BOYS. THEY HAVE WURDERED INMATES AND HAVE BEATEN INMATES HALF TO DEATH!

  EVERY GUARD IN TDCJ HAS A PATCH ON THEIR HATS THAT SAYS” TAKING CARE OF OUR OWN!” WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU? TO ME IT MEANS: A ASS KICKING OR WORSE! PLUS, IT’S A SUBLIMINAL MESSAGE DESIGNED TO INTIMIDATE INMATES OR TO PUT FEAR IN THEIR HEART!


“THE WORST UNITS IN TDCJ”

 

  1. ROBERTSON UNIT,
  2. BILL CLEMANS UNIT,
  3. ALRED UNIT,
  4. ESTELLE UNIT,
  5. A. HUGHES UNIT AND
  6. GIB LEWIS UNIT. 

  FOR OVER 20 YEARS THE GUARDS ON THESE UNITS HAVE MONSTEROUSLY BEATEN AND MURDERED INMATES! INMATES ARE AFRAID TO BE ON THESE UNITS! THE SUICIDE

RATE ON THE GIB LEWIS UNIT IS SICKING!  THE GUARDS ON
THESE UNITS OPENLY VIOLATE OUR RIGHTS AND THEY ARE
FEARLESS BECAUSE NOTHING IS EVEN DONE TO THEM!

GUARDS TEACH EACH OTHER TACTICS TO ABUSE INMATES THAT DON’T REALLY LEAVE ANY MARKINGS OR PROOF.  ONE OF THESE COVER TACTICS IS AFTER THEY BEAT A PRISONER, IMMEDIATELY TAKE PICTURES OF THE PRISONER BEFORE ANY SWELLING OR BRUISING APPEAR!

1.  SLAMMING A PRISONER.  THE GUARDS ON EVERY DAY BASE SLAM INMATES WHILE THEY ARE IN HANDCUFFS.  THEY INTENTIONALLY TRY TO SLAM THE INMATE HEAD FIRST.

2.  SLAMMING A PRISONER’S HEAD REPEATEDLY ON CONCRETE.  THIS IS DESIGNED TO CAUSE BRAIN DAMAGE AND IT DOESN’T CAUSE ANY OUTSIDE INJURY.  I HAVE HAD A LT. TELL ME “KEEP ON WHEN WE COME IN I’M GOING TO SLAM YOUR HEAD ON THE GROUND UNTIL YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO YOU ARE!”  I HAVE WITNESSED THIS HAPPEN AND THE INMATE WAS BASICALLY RETARDED!

3.  NO PUNCHING IN THE FACE.  I HAVE WITNESSED THE RANK TELL GUARDS “DON’T HIT HIM IN THE FACEM ONLY IN THE BODY AND HEAD”

4.  STICKING FINGERS AND NIGHT STICKS INTO THE PRISONERS EYE.  THE GUARDS HOLD THE PRISONER DOWN AND STICK THEIR FINGERS INTO THE PRISONERS EYES.  THIS CAUSE THE PRISONER TO SCREAM IN PAIN AND TERROR!

5.  SMASHING TESTICLES.  GUARDS WILL PUNCH INMATES IN THEIR TESTICLES OR CRUSH THEM.

6.  BENDING LEGS AND ARMS.  THEY DO THIS SO HARD AN INMATE CANNOT WALK OR MOVE WITHOUT EXTREME PAIN.

7.  WRAPPING A NIGHT STICK WITH A TOWEL.  THEY DO THIS SO THEY CAN BEAT A PRISONER WITHOUT CAUSING A LOT OF DAMAGE.

8.  PUTTING CHEMICAL AGENTS (GAS) ON THEIR FINGERS.  THEY DO THIS SO WHEN THEY STICK THEIR FINGERS INTO AN INMATE’S EYES OR STICK THEIR FINGERS INTO THEIR EYES AND INTO THEIR ANUS.  THIS CAUSES EXTREME PAIN!!

“COVER UPS”

THERE ARE NUMEROUS WAYS GUARDS COVER UP ABUSE.  THE FOLLOWING ARE WHAT I THINK ARE THE WORST.

  1. WHEN GUARDS RUN IN ON AN INMATE-A USE OF FORCE WHERE A 5 MAN TEAM IS USED, THE BIGGEST GUARD WILL BLOCK THE CAMERA. THIS ALLOWS GUARDS TO BEAT AND DO UNTHINKABLE CRUELTIES. IN ALOT OF CASES, THE INMATE IS ON THE GROUND AND HAS HAND CUFFS AND SHAKELS ON.
  2. THEY WILL STAGE A SCENE TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE AN INMATE ASSAULTED THE GUARD OR RESISTED.
  3. DURING THE USE OF FORCE OR ASSAULT, THE GUARDS WILL CONTINUSALLY SCREAM: STOP RESISTING, STOP RESISTING. THIS ALLOWS THEM TO BEAT THE INMATE. AS LONG AS THE INMATE IS RESISTING, IT ALLOWS THE GUARDS TO CONTINUE BEATING THE INMATE.
  4. DESTROY EVIDENCE.
  5. CLEAN THE BLOOD OFF THE INMATE BEFORE ANY PICTURES ARE TOOKEN.
  6. FALISIFYING RECORDS.
  7. MEDICAL WILL NOT DOCUMENT THE INJURIES.
  8. ALL THE GUARDS WILL BE TOLD TO COPY OTHER GUARDS REPORT SO EVERYONE WILL BE ON THE SAME PAGE.

“DEPRIVATION OF FOOD AND WATER”

GUARDS USE FOOD TO PUNISH INMATES. I HAVE BEEN STARVED FOR 2 WEEKS. I ASSAULTED A GUARD BECAUSE HE WAS TRYING TO BRAKE MY ARM. THEY BEAT ME UP AND PUT ME IN A COLD CELL AND DIDN’T FEED ME FOR TWO WEEKS. IF IT WASN’T FOR OTHER INMATES, I WOULD HAVE SUFFERED WORSE THEN I DID. I HAVE WITNESSED GUARDS STARVE INMATES UNTIL THEY ALMOST KILL THE INMATE! I HAVE ALSO SEEN THEM TURN THEIR WATER OFF FOR WEEKS AT A TIME AND THE INMATE WILL HAVE TO DRINK OUT OF THE TOILET BOWL.

“DENIAL OF CLOTHING AND BEDDING”

DURING THE WINTER GUARDS TAKE INMATES CLOTHS AND BEDDING. IT CAN BE IN THE 40’S OUTSIDE. THIS ISN’T FREEZING COLD BUT IMAGINE IF YOU WAS NUDE AND DIDN’T HAVE ANY CLOTHING OR BLANKETS TO COVER UP WITH! THIS TREATMENT IS USED TO BREAK A TROUBLE MAKER OR PRISONERS THAT ASSAULT GUARDS. IN 2006 WHEN IT WAS FREEZING COLD, I WAS SLAMMED ON MY FACE, AND ABOUT 4 GUARDS WERE TRYING TO BREAK MY NECK. WHEN THEY DID THIS BECAUSE I REFUSED TO GO INTO MY CELL. ONCE THEY FINALLY GOT ME IN MY CELL, THEY TOOK ALL MY CLOTHS AND BLANKETS. IT WAS SO COLD I WAS GOING TO KILL MYSELF TO END THE PAIN! I WAS CRYING AND IN SEVERE PAIN FOR CLOSE TO THREE WEEKS!


 I ENCOURAGE YOU TO CONDUCT YOUR OWN INVESTIGATION. YOU CAN TALK TO THE TEXAS PRISON LEAGUE. THEY ARE CURRENTLY LITIGATING A CLASS ACTION LAW SUIT AGAINST THE GUARDS AT THE ESTELLE UNIT FOR BEATING BLIND, DEFT AND CRIPPLED INMATES! THESE GUARDS WERE TORTURING THESE INMATES FOR NO REASON AT ALL! CAN YOU IMAGIN SOMEONE BEATING A CRIPPLED INMATE OR A BLIND PERSON? THIS IS PURE EVIL!

    HAVE YOU EVER HEARD SOMEONE BEING BEATEN AND STOMPED? I HAVE AND IT MAKES ME SICK, IT MAKES ME CRY AND HATE GUARDS! ONE NIGHT I WOKE UP AND I HEARD A PRISONER SCREAMING “YOU BROKE MY LEG!” HE WAS SCREAMING THIS OVER AND OVER WHILE GUARDS WHER LITERALLY BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF HIM. THIS HAPPEN TO A PRISONER NAME MOODY. HE WAS CRAZY BUT ALL HE DID WAS LAYED ON HIS CELL FLOOR AND REFUSED TO RESPOND! THIS HAPPEN ABOUT 10 YEARS AGO BUT I STILL HAVE DREAMS ABOUT IT!

    IT IS MY PROFOUND HOPE THAT BREAKING THE SILENCE WILL DRAW ATTENTION TO GUARD BRUTALITY, AND START A PUBLIC DISCOURSE. PRISON IS NO LONGER A CLOSED SOCIETY AND IF SOCIETY WILL DENOUNCE THE ABUSE AND DEMAND ACTION AGAINST GUARD BRUTALITY, THE PRISON OFFICIALS WILL BE COMPELLED TO FORCE GUARDS TO STOP ABUSING INMATES!

      WHAT CAN YOU DO? I THINK THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE CAN DO IS FORCE CONGRESS TO TAKE THE GRIEVANCE SYSTEM OUT OF PRISON OFFICIALS CONTROL! BECAUSE THE GRIEVANCE SYSTEM IS NOT A FAIR PROCESS AND IT DOESN’T WORK BECAUSE OFFICERS KNOW THAT IT IS EXTREMELY HARD FOR AN INMATE TO PROVE HIS OR HER CLAIMS BECAUSE THE INVESTIGATORS DON’T ACTUALLY INTERVIEW THE PRISON. ALSO, YOU CAN DEMAND THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO REVIEW EVERY USE OF FORCE REPORT AND GRIEVANCES CONCERNING GUARD BRUTALITY, AND USE OF FORCE VIDIOS. THIS WOULD IMMEDIATELY STOP THE ABUSE!

    IF I ASSAULT A GUARD, CRIMINAL CHARGES WILL BE FILED AND I’LL GET MORE TIME, BUT INMATES CANNOT FILE CRIMINAL CHARGES PRO SE BECAUSE THE SYSTEM IS DESIGNED TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR OWN! SO LETS START TAKING CARE OF OUR OWN!!!

LOVE YOU,

V

TO GET INVOLVED WITH BRINGING AN END TO GUARD BRUTALITY AND THE UNJUST GRIEVANCE SYSTEM, PLEASE WRITE LETTERS OF COMPLAINS, EMAILS, AND CALL TDCJ OFFICIALS, AS WELL AS LOCAL CONGRESS REPRESENTATIVES TO VOICE THESE DEMANDS.  BELOW IS A LIST OF PEOPLE TO CONTACT.

 

*Brad Livingston, Executive Director, TDCJ, (936) 437-2101 or (512) 463-9988


*Bryan Collier, Deputy Executive Director, TDCJ, (936) 437-6251 or (512) 463-9988


*Jay Eason, Deputy Director, TDCJ, (936) 437-6318 or (512) 463-9988


*TDJC Ombudsman Office (936) 437-4927 ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov


*TDJC Office of the Inspector General (936) 437-5030 oig@tdcj.texas.gov


*TDCJ Executive Director (512) 463-9988 exec.director@tdcj.state.tx.us

Texas State Senator


Texas State Senate District 24
Senator Troy Fraser

Capitol Office: CAP 1E.12

Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0124

Capitol Address: P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station

Austin, TX 78711

District Address: P. O. Box 12068

Austin TX 78711

Phone: (254) 939-3562

State District Offices

Texas State Representative

Texas State House District 59
Representative J,D. Sheffield

Capitol Office: EXT E2.320

Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0628

Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910

Austin, TX 78768

District Address: P.O. Box 704

Gatesville TX 76528

Phone: (254) 918-5729

 

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