Some people say that waiting is the hardest part. I have to agree that it is not easy, but by no means would I say it's the hardest.  I myself would be perfectly content to have gone on waiting. But now the wait is over before it really began. Now comes the hard part.

I am not talking about execution, although the similarities are readily apparent. What I am talking about was the collectively held breath, to see how long it would be after the termination of the landmark Ruiz Case until the Texas Department of Criminal Justice began abusing the lack of judicial oversight from which they were released. Turns out plans have been under way for years already and are only just now being unleashed. Like a pack of dogs unleashed to devour what little dignity and liberties we have left.

A number, a large number, of new policies are set to become active September 1st. Some have already begun implementation on July 1st. But what I want to comment on right now is one policy in particular.

For those who are unaware, once upon a time we here on death row were allowed to order all types of craft supplies, writing instruments, and stationary. Additionally books and magazines could be ordered. All this from the outside vendors, received at the unit, inspected and then delivered. Well, any craft supplies were nixed a long time ago under the guise of them being a security threat after the escape of seven men in 1998 from the Ellis Unit .  No, we could not order hacksaw blades from the outside- that is why it was such a lame excuse for all our creative materials to be seized. No more writing instruments either.

Stationary, now you gotta let us have some paper to write on. That comes into play with universal access to courts and the mail- whether you're a prisoner or not.  We've got to be allowed the paper. But how they allow us to have it, that has just changed for the worse.

"Products that are similar to those available through the commissary shall not be approved for outside purchase." That's the new rule. Since they don't offer books, magazines or newspapers on commissary, the only thing this can refer to is stationary products.

They are now selling on the commissary writing tablets, legal pads, two sizes of envelopes (business size, and large manilla envelopes) and typing paper. The prices they are charging for hese are as follows:

1 business envelope= $.05
Two manilla envelopes: $.50
Pen= $.20
One legal pad=$.95
100 pages of typing paper: $2.35
Pencil= $.13

If you ever had the chance to purchase writing supplies, you  undoubtedly have already seen what I've seen. By institutionalizing this policy, the TDCJ is blatantly committing the crime of racketeering.

"Whoa, I didn't see any racketeering," you say. then you must be the one who has never looked at the price of these items at any outside vendor. At Office Depot, that I know of, which has competitive prices with the rest of the chains' products, the prices for some f these items are decidedly lower. To be exact:

1 box of 500 business envelopes= $5
1 box of 100 manilla envelopes= $4.49
1 dozen legal pads= $5.00
1 ream of typing paper (500 pages)= $4.99
Extortion is a crime. Price gouging is as well. When done collectively by a group rather than an individual, it becomes a conspiracy. That's racketeering which is organized crime. The RICO laws were not made just for gangsters They were made to prosecute people in cahoots with each other perpetrating illegal activities.

TDCJ is extorting us. They have effectively said, "If you do not buy writing supplies from us, marked up prices and all, you will be punished. You will not be allowed to write your lawyer. You will not be able to write your family, your friends, the courts, any public offical; you will not be able to write ANYONE! You will buy writing supplies from us. And you will pay. Because if you don't, you will really pay."

That, plain and simple, is extortion- of a collective nature. When you put a gun to someone's head, figuratively or not,  when you threaten someone if they do not do as you wish, that's extortion. It is that easy.

Will they be allowed to get away with it? WE wield no power. We cannot vote, we don't pay taxes- we are not allowed to work and are not paid wages. If one of us has any money, it came from someone outside. Someone who can vote, who does pay taxes. They charge you taxes- which fund the prison, and then they dig in your wallet or purse some more like this.  We have to buy their materials just to tell anyone outside what is being done!

They claim this policy is being effected to enhance security. That is  a crock. It is paper! Whether or not we get it from them or the outside, what changes? NOTHING EXCEPT THE PRICE.

I ask you again, will they be allowed to get away with it?


Jasen Busby #999201

PS. I was going to do an article on this topic but my neighbor asked me if he wrote one, would I circulate it? Here ya re "Buzz"!! This is in concern to a new "Administrative Directive" that goes into effect Sept 1st, 2002. The directive reads, "Anything commissary sells will not be allowed to be purchased through outaside vendors."

Keeping the struggle alive,

Rich Cartwright