[Pnews] We cannot live by bread alone - Texas abuses prisoners with denied food and bread-and-water diets

Prisoner News 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
    <http://sfbayview.com/2015/05/we-cannot-live-by-bread-alone-texas-abuses-prisoners-with-denied-food-and-bread-and-water-diets/>

May 26, 2015
*http://sfbayview.com/2015/05/we-cannot-live-by-bread-alone-texas-abuses-prisoners-with-denied-food-and-bread-and-water-diets/*

*/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 
him. [1]


      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. [2]

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.” [3]

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, [4] 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. [5] 
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. [6] 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 
nothing wrong.


      *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 
witnesses.

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 
charges.

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 
water diet.

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 
9, 2015).

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 
his meal.

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[7]. Sylvan then backed away from the door and Dolleh closed the port 
cursing Sylvan and refusing his lunch.


      *Conclusion*

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 
own communities.


      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*

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] Landman v. Peyton, 370 F. 2d 135, 140 (4th cir. 1966)

[4] 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.

[5] 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, 
647 (1971).

[6] 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).

[7] 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 
<http://sfbayview.com/2014/11/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/ 
<https://secure.leftwingbooks.net/index.php?l=product_detail&p=653>/,” 
with a foreword by Russell “Maroon” Shoats and afterword by Sundiata 
Acoli, can be ordered at //leftwingbooks.net/ 
<https://secure.leftwingbooks.net/index.php?l=product_detail&p=893>/, by 
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 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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