3 LETTERS OF BILL COBLE
I am writing to you in a state of desperation. I don´t usually write letters telling of the way we are treated or complain about our living conditions, but the treatment we are receiving here is more than just cruel treatment, it is a form of torture.
When we got to the Terrell Unit on March 2, 2000 (the first two weeks) they didn´t treat us as bad as they do now. It seems to get progressively worst. Some of the men seem to be losing it. I will try to write this so you can understand. The officers at night are now turning on the lights from 3.30p.m, and go around and count, then the lights will go off at 9.50p.m and third shift comes on at 10.00p.m and they will turn on all the lights and go around and count, then they will turn off the lights and about ten minutes later they will turn on all the lights and come around picking up and giving out socks and shorts three nights a week, other night they will give out jumpsuits two nights a week and one night they will come around picking up and giving out sheets pillow case and toilet paper. They they will turn off the lights and about ten minutes later they turn them back on and a population inmate will come around and sweep the runs. Then they will turn the lights off and ten minutes later turn them back on and the same inmate or another will come around and mop the runs. Off with the lights and then back on with the lights and a sergeant will come around and each time the lights are on they have speakers above our doors and a ding sound will ding every eight seconds as long as the lights are on. This will make some of the men go off and they will beat on the doors and they will yell turn off the lights or other names for the officers, which seems to make the officers do it more and the men go off more.
I hope you can see how this effects all the men and how this is torture the same as a military would do to a POW to make them talk. It some times will get quite from 1.00a.m until 2.30am when they turn on the lights for the nurse who will come around giving shoots to the men with diabetes and then they will come around between 3.45a.m and 4.00a.m with breakfast so you can see it is very hard to get any sleep and in the day time it is the same way as they come around taking men to rec. or showers or to a visit or dentist or other medical services and the other two meals for the day and taking count. The services and other two meals for the day and taking count. The thing is these people are doing all they can to make it hard to get more than two hours sleep at any one time. It´s this treatment that makes this place hard not the cells. It is the attitude of the officers and the degrading way they treat us.
I don´t know what can be done about this, but I do know it is wrong. I can´t help the men here and can only ask God to ease their pain and to give all of us a loving heart even to those that treat us badly.
I will start this letter off with Thank you, Thank you, Thank you and there is no way we (the men here on Death Row) can Thank you enough.
As I wrote to you about the way we were being treated here at the Terrell Unit, I will recap the way we were being treated.
From 9.30p.m to 12.30 a.m the yould turn the lights on and off as they come around to count, pick up and give out socks and shorts or jumpsuits or sheets and other things. They would turn on all the lights and the lights would be on for about 35 minutes while they did these things and then the lights would go out for ten minutes. Then they would come on again while a population inmate would go around sweep the floors and this would take about 30 minutes. Then they would turn on all the lights again while the floors where moped, off with the lights, ten minutes later on with the lights, off on, off, on, for one reason or another from 9.30 ü.m to 12.30a.m or 1.00 a.m and the whole time the lights were on there would e a ding sound would come out of the speakers above our doors the whole time the lights were on. Then at 2.30a.m a nurse would come around and give shoots to the men with diabetes.
Well now thanks to you this is what they have done for the last six nights and I hope it will even get better as time goes by and we can work on the attitudes of some of the officers.
They now give out socks, shorts, jumpsuits, sheets and other necessities on the second shift so now they turn on all the lights at 9.30 and go around and cound than off with the lights and third shift comes on and they will turn on all the lights at 10.00 and go around and count and the lights go of for about 20 minutes then back on for the population inmate to come around sweeping and mopping at the same time and the lights go off at 11.30p.m on a good night, but because of the attitudes of some of the officers they will take as long as they can and the lights will stay on until 12.30a.m. The lights will stay off until 3.30a.m when they come around with breakfast and at 5.00a.m the nurse comes around giving shoots to the men with diabetes.
So thanks to you we now can sleep from 11.30p.m to 3.30a.m on some nights and from 12.30a.m to 3.30a.m on others with no lights or dinging sound fro three or four hours. I know you can see just as I can this could be even better if they would not have moved breakfast to 3.30 and kept it at 4.00a.m and all officers have the lights out by 11.00p.m, but still this is a very big improvement and the six nights this has been done has made a world of difference. The idea would be to have the lights out by 11.00p.m until 4.00a.m, but then an idea world would be to have no Death Row at all so this is a very big improvement and one we would not have gotten without the help of each and every one of our friends. So again I as well as all the men here want to send to each and everyone of you our biggest thanks and wish we could truly show you just how much we appreciate all you do for us.
I would like to add that changing the time that the necessities are given out from third shift to second shift and the time the nurse give shoots to the man with diabetes from 2.30 tp 5.00 would not have been done if you our friends had not helf TDCJ responsible for the humans treatment of the men here they would not have done anything. They are the one´s that put this treatment in place and they knew it was a form of torture.
We can see by the attitudes of some of the officers that they feel their fun has been taken away and they are not one bit happy about that.
The main thing is these staps were taken by TDCJ even if some of the officers will try to make it hard for us to have at least four hours of unbroken sleep time. For TDCJ to take the steps they did shows they knew this was wrong and it was a form of torture.
I want to close this letter with "We the men here on Death Row at the Terrell Unit want to thank each and every person that has helped us with this problem. If I could I would personally thank each one. Again I want you to know this has made a big difference and is a big improvement.
WE NEED FEDERAL MONITORS TO COME INTO THE TERRELL UNIT
This is my third letter about the problem "we" (the men on death row at the Terrell Unit) are having in regards to not being able to get more than two hours sleep at any given time.
As you will see at the time you have read this
letter, the progress that we had hoped for was
(one) short lived and (two) never did fully come
(one) It only took the officers a little over a weak to get a routine down that is more torturous than before any changes were made.
(two) The superficial change TDCJ made were only cosmetic, because the officers say they have not been told they are to have the work done by any certain time, so we can have more than two hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Changing the time the officers give our necessities from third shift to second shift and the time the nurse come around to give Insulin shoots to the men with diabetes gave the appearance that TDCJ was addressing the problem we are having concerning not being allowed to get more than two hours sleep at any given time.
The first letter tells about how they implemented the torture with lights and sound and the time things were done and the second letter tells about the cosmetic changes made by TDCJ and of the attitudes of the officers. It is in the attitude of the officers and it is the attitude of TDCJ that cur problems exist. It is TDCJ that gives the officers their attitude and it is TDCJ that has establish the torture.
Unlike my other two letters that I tried to keep brief, which I see now was wrong, I will go into much more detail with this letter and hope it will give a much better picture that will give you a clear understanding of the torture we are going through.
To do this I feel it is necessar, to look at the treatment we received at the Ellis Unit and to take into consideration all the privileges and benefits (some that have been ordered by a Federal Court) that we are now being denied.
List of privileges & benefits:
(1) The Work Programm
(2) Religious Service
(4) Legal Work
(7) Freedom of Movement
(12) TDCJ Personnel
(14) Books & Magazines
(15) Over all Environment
(1) Work Program: Was much more than just the garment factory. There were SSI porters, barbers and painters. There was the ability to see and talk to men on other wings. It allowed us to maintain a social and humane community.
(2) Religious Services: There were three or more groups of religious services. The group services gave the men an opportunity to give support to each other in their faith.
(3) Pidding: Being able to make crafts to sell and to give them to our friends and family, gave the men the ability to be some what self-supported as well as spending time in a positive and productive way. Some of the men donate crafts at christmas and for other charities.
(4) Legal work: We were able to go to the day room or rec-yard and help each other with legal work. We were able to have legal visits with men on other wings and with men from population.
(5) Visitation: Men on the work program could walk down the hall to the visitation room without handcuffs on. We could visit without being in a cage and there was much more room.
(6) Recreation: Group recreation not only gave us an opportunity to participate in tournaments and team sports, it was another positive activity. Group recreation yards gave the men that was not into or able to participate in sports, to walk and talk to each other.
(7) Freedom of Movement: For the men on the work program to be able to come out of their cells and go to the day room or rec-yard without handcuffs on. To walk down the hall to the visiting room, down the hall to the commissary, to walk down the hall to the infirmary, to go down the hall to work on one of the lockdown wings and to go to work at the arment factory, all without handcuffs on. The freedom of movement in the garment factory, the freedom of movement to do the work as a SSI porter, the freedom of movement to do the work as a barber and the freedom of movement to do the work as a painter.
(8) Commissary: There are many things we could buy from the commissary that we no langer can, but I will not list all of them, but if you would like a list I will make one and send it to you as soon as possible. Some of the things were - Word processor, legal folder, carbon paper, gloves, AA batteries, mirrors and much more. We were given up-dates that told us of any new items, what things they had and what things they were out of. What the cookies of the week were.
(9) Newspapers: They would put newspapers from different cities in the day room for anyone to read and the men that received newspapers in the mail could and would pass them around.
(10) Meals: The men on the work program could go to the food-cart and make their own trays and eat in the day room or in their cells.
(11) TV`s: The only thing I will say here is it was another way of getting the news, but can´t now !
(12) TDCJ Personnel: The officers, nurses and the personnel at the garment factory would talk to us in a humane way. They would talk to us about our crafts, sports and other things.
(13) Christmas: Being able to receive fruitcakes, socks, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, candy and cookies. Christmas is a time for people to be good well amassadors in our society.
(14) Books and Magazines: Being able to talk with other men about what books they have and get together on what books or magazines they are going to order so as not to order the same books or magazines and being able to pass them around.
(15) Over all Environment: Our day to day interaction with one another. The way we could compomise with the TV vote so no one group would dominant. Being able to use buckets to wash clothes. Respecting the rights of others so they could sleep. The rules that TDCJ made and enforced so we could get five hours or more of uninterrupted sleep. Some of these rules were: On week nights they would rack-up at 10.00p.m and the TV´s were turned off at 10.30p.m. If a person had a word processor or typewriter they could not print out anything after 10.00p.m because the sound would keep other men from sleeping and if you had a radio you had to put the headphones over your head so the radio wouldn´t keep someone from getting their sleep. The officers not only didn´t make noise, it was their job to make sure that inmates did not keep other inmates from getting their sleep.
Now we are back at the Terrell Unit and you will see by this letter and the other two letters that not only do the officers noise that will keep inmates from getting their sleep, they torment the men here so they will also make noise that will keep others from getting their sleep.
Only when you look at the over all environment at the Ellis Unit and all the privileges that we had there and then look at the lack of all these privileges and benefites at the Terrell Unit can you start to see and understand the stressful and inhumane treatment the men on death row are now going through.
Now add the EXTREME TORTURE of NOT being allowed to get more than TWO HOURS SLEEP.
"Sleep deprivation is a well known form of torture and this torture is going on here at the Terrell Unit."
Federal Monitors need to be sent to the Terrell Unit to investigate the torture that TDCJ has authorize.
The Federal Court needs to order Federal Monitors to come into the Terrell Unit for 24 hours a day for 7 days to see for themselves the torture that we are going through day and night.
When they do this they will hear the ding sound all day long and the opening and shouting of the doors to take men to recreation, medical, visitation and for showers. Then they will see the lights and hear all the noise the third shift makes and see there is no way for us to get the sleep that ever, human being needs and deserves.
The United States and other countries call for China to improve the way they treat their prisoners in the name of human rights ! The United States says there trade embargo against Cuba is in part because of the way the Cuban government treats their people in the name of human rights !
NOW MY QUESTIONS ARE:
In the name of human rights how can the torture at the Terrell Prison Unit be allowed to go on one minute longer ?
Is it not the Federal Courts duty to uphold the CONSTITUTION of the UNITED STATES ?
Is it not the Federal Courts duty to investigate and insure that no prisoner in the United States are tortured ?
As I said in my second letter it is the attitude of the officers and it is the attitude of TDCJ that allows this torture to exist. We can see this because of the rules and regulation made by TDCJ and because there are some officers that try very hard not to be a part of this torture treatment.
It is the officers that slam the crossover doors as hard that we can feel the vibration as much as we can hear the sound and slamming the gates and the utility doors between the cells. It is the officers that come around for count at 10.00p.m and then wait for 45 minutes and then come around with a population inmate sweeping the runs and then wait for another 30 or 40 minutes and come around with an inmate mopping the runs and wait and come around with an inmate to clean the showers and then come around checking the utilities and slamming the doors and then coming around after 12.30a.m asking men if they want any paper work.
There are a few officers that will come around at 10.00p.m for count and then come around with two population inmates and one inmate will sweep and mop the runs while the other one is cleaning the shower and the officer is asking men if they need any paper work and checking the utility and DO NOT SLAM the doors all at the same time and are through by 11.20p.m so we can see this can be done by all officers if their attitudes were not to torture us. It is the attitude of some of the administration personnel and it is the attitude of some of the officers that we do not deserve to get five hours or more of uninterrupted sleep and we deserve to be tortured.
It is those people in the administration and others that feel we did not and do not deserve the PRIVILEGES and BENEFITES we had at the Ellis Unit and or working hard to keep us from having at the Ellis Unit and or working hard to keep us from having them. It is these people that make the rules and regulations that gives the officers their attitude.
I am encling a inter-office communication that I have reprinted that shows this. It is tell that they have changed the Insulin time back to where it was in my first letter. I am having copies of this made also and will put them in the next letter about the regulation when enforced will take the person life.
The enclosed inter-office communication shows we are back to where we were and this is why I said the changes we got were short lived and never did fully come about because of the attitudes of most of the officers.
I want to briefly say a few thing about the regulation that in it´s enforcement can and may result in the death of person it is being enforced on.
There are many forms of torture, mental and physical. Here at the Terrell Unit they are mentally torturing us as well as the physical torture of not being able to get five hours of uninterrupted sleep. This mental torture comes in the form of a degrading and dehumanizing regulation that can not be enforced without being directly detrimentally harmfull to the person it is being enforced on.
Where is the constitution of the United States is it written that any government institution can make a regulation that is degrading, dehumanizing, demoralizing and it´s enforcement will result in the death of a human being. This torturous regulation is being done today at the Terrell Prison Unit.
I am willing to talk to anyone about this problems we are having here at the Terrell Unit.
"WE (the men on death row at the Terrell Unit) NEED YOUR HELP."
UTBM CORRECTIONAL MANAGED CARE
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Date: July 19, 2000
To: Death Row Offenders
From: Medical Department
Re: Insulin Changes & Print Passes
Starting July 24, 2000, Insulin time will be between 2.00p.m - 3.00p.m and 2.00 a.m - 3.00 a.m. Johnnies are to be issued with the 2.00a.m Insulin.
You will be receiving medication print passes which show the medication you are on and when they expire.
Med Techs (Pill Nurses) will pick up sick call requests daily during medication times. Nursing will still pass out requests 3 x weekly.
Here is the list of addresses I would like you to get as many people to write letters to as you can:
Attorney At Law
660 Market Street
San Francisco, CA
Hon. William Wayne Justice
United States District Court
211 W. Ferguson Street
P.O. Box 330
American Civil Liberaties Union
P. O. Box 710356
Terrell Unit # 000976
12002 F.M. 350 South
Livingston, Texas, 77351