[Pnews] We cannot live by bread alone - Texas abuses prisoners with denied food and bread-and-water diets
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue May 26 14:10:53 EDT 2015
We cannot live by bread alone: Texas abuses prisoners with denied
food and bread-and-water diets
May 26, 2015
*/by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson/*
Food is routinely used by U.S. prison officials to summarily punish,
torture, abuse and retaliate against prisoners. This happens with
especial frequency in administrative segregation (solitary confinement)
where prisoners are confined inside locked cells all day every day and
must have all meals delivered by guards. Under such circumstances, we
remain at guards’ total mercy “to eat or not to eat.”
In the segregation unit of the Texas prison, Clements Unit, where I am
confined, guards frequently refuse – or “jack” – prisoners’ meals,
especially mentally ill prisoners, starving them for days to weeks on
end and longer.
*No deterrence to guards abusing food*
“Jacking” meals occurs so regularly that most segregated Texas prisoners
have been, or expect to be, at some point denied meals. And whether the
victimized prisoner is “respected” by his peers and guards afterward is
determined by how he in turn reacts.
The expected reaction is for the jacked prisoner to “run the team,” that
is, at the first opportunity, to act out in some manner that will
require a team of five or more guards to dress out in full body riot
armor and forcibly invade his cell and restrain and, more often than
not, beat him. The process is formally called a “cell extraction” or
“cell entry.” The teams of guards who perform the cell extractions are
suited up in body armor, gas masks, etc. exactly as police were seen
dressed out in their militaristic occupation of Ferguson, Missouri, to
suppress public protest of the police murder of Michael Brown.
To “get his respect” the prisoner is expected to go through with the
entire cell extraction process, which consists of his being sprayed
multiple times with gas, and the team of guards then opening the cell
door and rushing in, tackling and/or beating him to the floor,
handcuffing him from behind and then beating him further as he is held
down defenseless, which entails sly or open punches, kicks, choking,
slamming his head against the concrete floor or steel fixtures inside
the cell, gouging his eyes, squeezing his testicles, bending his fingers
back etc. Often guards conceal small weapons on their persons and use
them to stab, cut or jab the prisoner.
The beatings are typically carried out under cover of a supervising
ranking guard yelling repeatedly for the subdued prisoner to “stop
resisting!” This is done for effect and to make it seem that the
prisoner is being combative and the guards are struggling to control
In the segregation unit of the Texas prison, Clements Unit, where
I am confined, guards frequently refuse – or “jack” – prisoners’
meals, especially mentally ill prisoners, starving them for days
to weeks on end and longer.
This is a standard game which police also play as cover for beating,
tasering and also shooting people. It is such common practice with
so-called law enforcement officials that I’m confident ‘most every
prisoner in Amerika who has witnessed or endured even a few cell
extractions – and most civilians who’ve witnessed or suffered beatings
at the hands of the police – will attest to it.
Most prisoners are intelligently unwilling to suffer the compounded
abuse of “running the team” on top of having been jacked for their meal.
However, if the jacked prisoner doesn’t run the team, he becomes the
target of ridicule by others as being a “bitch,” “ho” etc. and is
disparaged as weak, and is thus likely to be jacked yet again and
ostracized to a greater or lesser degree.
It is largely to avoid ridicule and attendant victimization that many
prisoners are induced to run the team and thereby save face. This is all
a cultural reaction that officials have conditioned prisoners to adopt
to our own disadvantage, which I’ll explain.
Officials have taught prisoners over the years to resort to “running
teams” because, unless a prisoner employs uncommon tactical ingenuity,
he can almost never come out on top of such odds, even if he be in the
best physical shape. And because guards enjoy a complete tactical
advantage and almost invariably subdue the isolated prisoner quickly and
suffer no injuries in the process, cell extractions bolster their sense
of invulnerability and embolden them to abuse us in the absence of fear
of harm to themselves or other consequences. So by racking up repeated
“wins,” the guards, while outnumbered by us at least 10 to one, enjoy
the highest morale; the overall segregated prisoner body, by resisting
them in a manner that ensures and results in routine “losses,” is left
demoralized and submissive to mistreatment. 
Because of the relative advantage that segregated confinement presents
to guards, one finds that it is those most inclined to sadism and
cowardly abuse that choose to work in segregation units and
super-maximum security prisons. Moreover, even the courts have long
admitted that poor salaries and training render guards “more vulnerable
to the corrupting influence of unchecked authority than most people.” 
Also, prisoners are conditioned to fear injuring guards in turn, under
administrative threat of criminal prosecution if they do, which means an
extended prison term, often an aggravated sentence, which might result
in spending one’s entire life in prison.
And in the final event, officials use instances of our running teams or
responding to abuse with physical self-defense and deterrence to
villainize us as being belligerent, assaultive etc., painting a
completely one-sided picture of events and making their own abusive
violence appear only a measured and professional response to dangerous
and out-of-control criminals,  rather than their acting under cover
of absolute power to inflict compounded abuses on a completely
disadvantaged, disempowered and isolated segment of the community.
Which brings me back to the issue of officials using their monopoly on
our access to food as a form of abuse.
*The legality of restricted prison diets*
Texas prison officials subject prisoners to bread and water diets, even
though by law and human necessity we cannot live by bread alone. 
Furthermore, the basis upon which restricted diets are imposed is also
forbidden by law.
Prison officials may lawfully impose restricted diets on prisoners
temporarily and only in response to, and to control, food-related
misbehavior. Such restrictions may not be used as punishment.  And
even still, restricted diets must provide adequate nutrition, which a
bread and water diet does not.
But here is a recent example of the abusive impunity of prison
officials, in this case the wholesale use of illegal bread and water
food restrictions as arbitrary punishment, even when prisoners have done
*Bread and water to deter prisoner witnesses*
I’ve had several articles published about abuses at this Clements Unit,
which quote or reference prisoner witnesses who communicated their
accounts to me via written notes which I have quoted from. Numerous
Clements Unit officials have stated to me that they’ve read my critical
articles online. In response, administrators have tried to discourage
our passing notes between ourselves and have explicitly threatened
On Feb. 19, 2015, Michael Gruver, the Clements Unit major who oversees
the prison’s segregation unit, claimed to have been monitoring
surveillance cameras mounted in the pod I’m housed in and allegedly
observed numerous prisoners passing items between cells.
In turn Gruver ordered a guard, Joshua Brandl, who was then leaving to
go home – it was shift change – to write disciplinary charges on several
prisoners. Gruver specifically directed Brandl to fabricate the charges
to say 14 prisoners had manipulated the locking mechanisms on the
handcuff ports on their cell doors and opened them. Brandl wrote the
Additionally, Gruver had each of the 14 prisoners put on food
restriction, although none were alleged to have committed any
food-related misconduct. All 14 prisoners remained on food restrictions
for five days.
On food restriction a prisoner is given only a “food loaf” three times
per day, delivered in a paper sack. At Clements Unit the food loaf is
nothing but a greasy novel-sized block of cornbread with little else in
it. The restricted prisoner must drink only water from the sink in his
cell. Therefore, food restriction at this unit is literally a bread and
Almost none of the 14 food-restricted prisoners were able to eat the
food loaf for more than a day, and most went the entire five days
refusing to eat it at all because it is so unappetizing and wreaks havoc
on one’s digestive system.
Administrators have tried to discourage our passing notes between
ourselves and have explicitly threatened witnesses.
Actually the “food loaf” recipe is supposed to contain a variety of
ingredients from the regular menu, blended together and baked into a
loaf which can be eaten without utensils. Also an instant beverage is to
accompany the loaf. This is to “control” the misuse of food, utensils
etc., although this is not how loaf meals are prepared at Clements Unit.
When complaints are made, officials simply lie and claim the proper
ingredients are included.
On food restriction a prisoner is given only a “food loaf” three
times per day, delivered in a paper sack. At Clements Unit the
food loaf is nothing but a greasy novel-sized block of cornbread
with little else in it.
Several days after Brandl wrote the false disciplinary charges, he
apparently returned to work with a heavy conscience and admitted he was
concerned that several of the prisoners he lied on might retaliate
against him. He came to our pod, at which point I called him to my cell
door and asked why he’d fabricated reports on the others.
All 14 prisoners were served with the disciplinary charges written by
Brandl on Feb. 25. Brandl replied that Gruver ordered him to do it, but
that he would tell the truth at the disciplinary hearings, that he’d in
fact never observed the prisoners open the cuff ports on their cell
doors but was told by Gruver to fabricate the reports saying he had.
Brandl honored his word and all the disciplinary charges were withdrawn
before any hearings were conducted, but not before all 14 prisoners were
made to suffer a bread and water diet for five days, all as part of an
administrative backlash and group punishment for prisoners bearing
witness to witnessed and suffered abuse.
*Meal jacked as I wrote article*
As an example of how regularly prisoners’ meals are arbitrarily taken by
guards, at the very time that I was writing this article, a guard,
Abraham Dolleh, refused the prisoner housed in the cell directly across
from me—Jeffrey Sylvan #1649281— his lunch meal (this occurred on March
Dolleh “jacked” Sylvan’s lunch because as he was coming toward Sylvan’s
cell serving lunch, Dolleh called another prisoner several vulgar names.
When he got to Sylvan’s cell, Sylvan, thinking the guard was cursing him
because Sylvan had been talking loudly to another prisoner, asked Dolleh
who he was talking to. Dolleh responded by then cursing Sylvan and then
refused to give him his lunch tray although Dolleh had already unlocked
and opened the cuff port on Sylvan’s cell door in preparation for
serving him his meal.
When Dolleh vulgarly told Sylvan he wasn’t going to give him his lunch
and to back away from the cell door so he could lock the port back
without any danger of Sylvan making physical contact with him, Sylvan
then stuck his arm out the slot to prevent its being closed and demanded
In turn Dolleh took out his portable canister of OC gas and stated to
Sylvan to move back or he’d say Sylvan was attempting to cut himself
with a razor blade and would thereupon empty the canister of gas on
him. Sylvan then backed away from the door and Dolleh closed the port
cursing Sylvan and refusing his lunch.
Today the entire world is bearing witness to an ongoing pattern of
exposures of, and mass protests against, murders by Amerikan police of
unarmed people of color and militaristic occupation and terrorism of our
communities, which has gone on for decades. This sudden visibility has
occurred not because the government nor mainstream media exposed it.
It came about because members of the victimized communities exposed it
themselves using social media outlets to make an end run around the
government and press, who otherwise whitewashed, denied and concealed
these realities, often behind perpetuating racist criminal stereotypes
against these communities.
Recall also that just prior to the police murder of Michael Brown in
Ferguson, Missouri, this past summer and the militaristic police
response to the community’s righteous protests, which prompted this
exposure, politicians and the media were loudly proclaiming that Amerika
had finally risen above its racism and become a “post-racial society.”
The whole world now knows that was all a lie. But remember, we prisoners
do not have access to video recording technologies nor social media. So
our suffering goes largely unknown to not just the world, but even our
We prisoners do not have access to video recording technologies
nor social media. So our suffering goes largely unknown to not
just the world, but even our own communities.
This is why we must devise ways to expose the darkest recesses of
Amerika’s lawless law enforcement system, namely its prisons. And it
must be realized that the prisons and the tortures, brutalities and
abuses occurring within their hidden confines are an extension of and
organically linked to the federal, state and local police that are the
very forces targeting the poor and people of color for selective mass
imprisonment in Amerika.
Dare to struggle! Dare to win!
All power to the people!
*Endnotes and additional comments*
 Medical staff and guards tend to downplay any injuries suffered by
the prisoner and dismiss them as the result of the prisoner himself
being combative and/or falling and striking a hard surface inside the
cell during the cell extraction.
 This culture which plays on male prisoners’ masculine sensitivities
works to the guards’ benefit and the prisoners’ disadvantage by inducing
prisoners to fight the guards from a position of pitting their
weaknesses against the guards’ strengths. I often point this out to my
peers and illustrate the point with a revelation I heard made by a U.S.
military commander during 2003, as he boasted to the media how easily
U.S. forces took Iraq’s capital city, Baghdad, during the illegal
imperialist Iraq invasion that year.
The officer told how U.S. military intelligence forces had studied Iraqi
culture and thereby developed a profile of its military-aged males. From
this the U.S. learned that Iraqi males, like most males in patriarchal
societies, are highly sensitive about their masculinity. This was turned
to the Iraqis’ disadvantage.
At first, the commander said, U.S. attempts to enter Baghdad were
quickly and soundly repelled by Iraqi defenders firing on them from
concealed places and planting IEDs. Unless the hidden Iraqis could be
induced to come out into the open and fight face to face, they would
keep the advantage and the city could not be taken. So, what the U.S.
did was make gradual incursions into the city in armored formations with
a megaphone on top of the tanks.
From the megaphones they blared over and over in Arabic that only women
hide from their opponents and that “real men” meet and fight their
opponents face to face. The commander laughingly recounted how in
response to such taunts, the hidden fighters gave up their advantage and
rushed out of buildings and other hiding places in droves harmlessly
firing at the tanks and armored vehicles, only to be mowed down in turn
by the vehicles’ heavy machine guns. The city’s defenders were thereby
eliminated and the U.S. and allied forces quickly took Baghdad.
 Landman v. Peyton, 370 F. 2d 135, 140 (4th cir. 1966)
 As I’ve demonstrated in numerous past articles on Amerika’s abusive
prisons, the guards and administrators are the ones who perpetrate all
sorts of criminal acts in their abuses of prisoners and indeed commit
federal crimes every time they violate a prisoner’s constitutional
rights, as their abuses described herein do. See 18 United States Code,
Section 242. As with the murderous police in society, they are afforded
de facto immunity from prosecution by virtue of being so-called law
enforcement officers. The system protects and insulates its own.
 A bread and water diet is unconstitutional. See Jenkins v. Werger,
564 F. Supp. 806, 808-09 (1983); Landman v. Royster, 333 F. Supp. 621,
 Food restrictions must be used only to control the behaviors for
which they were designed. LeMaire v. Maass, 745 F. Supp. 623, 635-36
(1990), vacated and remanded on other grounds, 12 F. 3rd 1444, 1456 (1993).
 I discuss the practice of guards at this unit of using fabricated
claims that prisoners have acted in self harm or suicide attempts to
speciously justify assaulting them with OC gas and taking all their
property, usually against prisoners they dislike or who anger them. See
Kevin “Rashid” Johnson. “Prison Assisted Suicide – The Texas Way
/Rashid Johnson, a prisoner in Virginia who was transferred to Oregon in
2012 and to Texas in 2013, has been held in segregation since 1993.
While in prison, he founded the New Afrikan Black Panther Party – Prison
Chapter. As a writer, Rashid has been compared to George Jackson, and he
is also the artist who drew the image that became the icon of the
California hunger strikes. His book, “//Defying the Tomb/
with a foreword by Russell “Maroon” Shoats and afterword by Sundiata
Acoli, can be ordered at //leftwingbooks.net/
writing to Kersplebedeb, CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne, Montreal, Quebec,
Canada H3W 3H8, or by emailing //info at kersplebedeb.com/
<mailto:info at kersplebedeb.com>/. His writing and art is at
//rashidmod.com/ <http://rashidmod.com/>/. Send our brother some love
and light: //Kevin Johnson, 1859887, Clements Unit, 9601 Spur 591,
Amarillo, TX 79107. /
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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