PRISON FOOD STRIKE
To All Concerned Convicts of Death Row on the Terrell Unit
Greetings to all fellow Death Row Convicts!
We hope all who read this will choose to commit themselves to the actions stated herein, for the purposes referenced above. We want to engage a "Food Strike." Its purpose is a non-disruptive showing of unity whose goal is to gain attention to the conditions here by the public, news media, TDCJ-ID Administration, and others. Thereby to hopefully make a change for the better in our overall treatment.
Yes, we mean to engage a "Food Strike," and before you begin to lose interest or discount the idea, read this entire proposal and give it your serious thought and consideration. Whether you are white, black, or brown, gang-related, or not affiliated, we are all in the same predicament here. We are all being actively and purposely discriminated against by the TDCJ and TDCJ-ID officials who are responsible for our care and management as a prisoner population.
TDCJ-ID Policy (SM-04,90 Death Row Plan) states that Death Row is considered to be a separate group of prisoners compared to General Population Ad. Seg. We are to be segregated for "non-punitive" reasons; meaning we are to live in a "non-punitive" environment. Our "non-punitive" segregation status is the reason why we were previously given access to the advanced in-cell piddling program; allowed to recreate in groups, given access to T.V. viewing for certain hours of the day, and allowed to work by participating in the work-capable program; the same basic privileges allowed General Population Close Custody Convicts. Yet, now here we are, month-in and month-out, for nearly a years time with none of the above basic activities available to any of us. TDCJ-ID officials hold us to the strict standards of the Death Row plans "Leveling System," yet they think light of any privileges afforded to us under the same policies. TDCJ-ID refuses to follow its own policy in any matter that is favorable to the prisoner. This double-standard, one-sided policy interpretation and enforcement must stop!
Texas law states that, as death sentenced prisoners, we are not to be subjected to any "torture, ill treatment nor unnecessary pain" (TX VACCP 43.24 (1999). Any of you who have experienced treatment under the Leveling Classification System enacted via SM-04.90 Death Row Plan knows that the sorry conditions under which we have all lived since the escape in November, 1998, have been nothing but extremely punitive.
Many of you have also experienced TDCJ-ID`s retaliation in connection with denial of the visits and restrictions on changing your visiting lists all in violation of state law (TX VACCP ART. 43.17 Visitors 1999) and, in violation of your First and Fourteenth Amendment Rights under the U.S. Constitution.
The conditions resulting from the leveling system have been found unconstitutional by the Honorable William Wayne Justice in Cause No. H-78-987 Ruiz V Johnson, in a Memorandum Opinion issued by the court on March 1, 1999, at Sections IX, X, XI, and XII, but particularly Section IX, Subsections A, B, C. Under the current conditions we are not even afforded the basic necessities of civilized human existence as judged by contemporary standards of decency in a prison setting. The very type now housing us here on Terrells Super SEG., do constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.
We have a constitutional and statutory right to enjoy the same privileges that population prisoners enjoy, but even more because they are sentenced to a term of penal servitude incarceration whereas we are not. We are sentenced to death as our punishment and this way TDCJ-ID is prohibited from punishing us further in the context of our sentence while we are awaiting resolution of our appeals. We are not even sentenced to prison at all, but wards of the counties from whence we were convicted at trial.
Thus, if anyone in Texas Ad. Seg. Has any right to privileges, WE DO . Yet Allan Pollunsky and the Prison Board are encouraging and overseeing our continued daily punishment while we sit by powerless to stop it, it seems.
Most of us are aware of the fact that a couple of people are in the process of filing lawsuits against the system challenging, for the most part, the conditions and the issues this proposal speaks of. All that is good and fine and we hope they succeed in achieving permanent, court-ordered change, but that is going to take some time. Many of us do not have such time to spare, so we need to do something NOW which will bring about more immediate change. No one can draw more attention to our situation that we can with this Food-Strike. Thus, we ask EVERYONE to join with us in the great showing of solidarity. Region Director Lepher Jenkins was quoted by the Houston newspaper and others as saying that at Terrell he didn`t have to deal with us as a group, but could deal with us individually, one at a time. Let`s show him how wrong he is! If EVERYONE will participate, particularly all of us here at Terrell, we can make Jenkins recognize us as a group still.
The Food Strike will consist of (21) days. The reason we are asking for a (21) day show of unity by not eating is it is more or less a balance. We feel that (14) days is not enough, but (30) days is too many. None of them are easy to do, so prepare yourself. Those of you, the writer included, who have never been on a Hunger Strike are in for an experience and test of mental strength and self-will. It is not easy! Those of you who remember the OLD solitary procedures where you were only fed one meal every third day know how mentally and physically taxing not eating can be. To go (21) days with nothing is even worse, so those of us who do participate need to constantly encourage each other and ignore, to the best of our ability, those not involved that will be eating every day and making commissary. The important thing to remember is (21) days will definitely get the Administration/Administrative, News Media, and the public attention and pressure that prompted changes in the Commutation/Clemency policies.
The following are the guidelines to be followed by those who choose to participate: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING will be taken from the food cart, including milk, tea, or juice. No solid food items are to be bought or stockpiled from the commissary, because it will be unfair that you are eating and your neighbor is not. No eating during media or family visits, drinks are okay. More important is that the Administration/Guards will use this "cheating" to break us up in here AND out in the streets with the media and our supporters. Any and all liquids from the commissary, including coffee, are acceptable to have. Fruit juices, canned milk, EStrnsure, and vitamins should especially be considered for health purposes. NO SOUPS!
Those who are diabetic or suffering from other illnesses that require a special diet are not expected to participate, except in spirit. We`re speaking here of those who will actually create an adverse health effect for themselves by not eating. We don`t expect anyone to actually jeopardize their health for this cause.
Our goal, and what we want are self-evident by the reading of this proposal. We need to not sway from it, and we need to present it all at one time. This whole things is about Death Row`s adverse conditions. A copy of this proposal will be mailed to several Administrative, news media, and organizations, etc. The writer asks for input from anyone who wants to help get this out to the free-world to contact him, as I am willing to go out there and present all this to the media to bring attention to our plight. It is also encouraged that anyone that has family and/or friends that will participate from the free-world to do so. I am certain our friends and families on the streets will struggle beside us to bring change. However, the guidance must come from in here, from us, "the convicts." We`re the ones that know what`s happening and what we need to do, what kind of help we need. This would include copying and distributing of this proposal, making phone calls, and writing letters to the High Level Officials and administrators as to why the conditions here are so discriminatory; that their son and all others have stopped eating. In other words, put pressure on these people. We need lots of phone calls and letters to the media about "WHY" we are doing this. There is no better way to start the new millennium than with unified struggle for positive change. Barring any unforseen setback, a date for January 1, 2000 is on the table.
That is, we start the hunger strike at 12:00 midnight January 1, and end at 12:00 midnight January 22. So, we have from now until then to prepare ourselves. To get in contact with our families and friends out in the free world about it, and to distribute it to different major news, radio, T.V. stations, organizations, etc. The writer is doing all he can to distribute this proposal, but again, would welcome any input or help with this.
Lastly, to those who think things will improve once all D/R is moved to Terrell like Administration has been telling us, think again. Remember the history of actions you have witnessed TDCJ-ID carry out against us and Mr. Pollunsky`s statement to the media that he had "No sympathy, NONE, for any Death Row inmate OR his family." TDCJ`s actions overall echo this sentiment 100-fold. If we come together and support this action, not only will we show our solidarity, BUT we can actually bring positive change for us ALL. Don`t hold back with your comments, opinions, and advice. Let`s get together and do this!
With all due respect to one and to all.
Hank Skinner #999143 and=20
Lionel Rodriguez #999002
12002 South FM 350
Livingston TX 77351-9630