Filed under: Incarceration, Political Prisoners, Repression, US
Comrade Malik, a tireless revolutionary writer and organizer who’s been very active in exposing the terrible conditions at the Eastham Unit in Texas, is currently facing threats of retaliation. For more general information on Malik, you can listen to this interview with his support network from the Final Straw, or read his writing at incarceratedworkers.org, the SF Bay View, or his own support site. For information about how to help support him against this threat of retaliation, see below.
Please find below a recent communication from Malik regarding retaliatory acts he suffered, in response to his publicizing the prevalence of toxic substances in his and others’ cells on the Ad-Seg Unit at Eastham. The goal is for as many people as possible to send some version of this complaint to the Ombuds Office by email at [email protected] — the only proven way of preventing retaliation is to let TCDJ offices know that many eyes are watching!
If you do send a communication, please send a copy by email either to me ([email protected]) so I can print it out and send it to Malik for his documentation, or send it directly to him at:
Keith H. Washington
2665 Prison Road 1
Lovelady, Texas 75851
Dear Ombudsman and All Interested Parties,
I am submitting this formal public complaint on behalf of Keith H. Washington (TDC#1487958) who is currently housed at the Eastham Ad-Seg Unit located in Lovelady, TX.
I and many other media correspondents as well as prisoner rights advocates are very upset and disappointed concerning the reports we have received in reference to the reprisals visited upon Mr. Washington because he has brought to light the existence of black mold and cracked/peeling paint in the cells at the Ad-Seg Unit at Eastham.
Our primary problem concerns TDCJ prison officials at Eastham conspiratorial practice violate Keith’s first amendment rights. Specifically, to petition the government and file complaints in order to resolve inhumane living conditions.
Keith reports that on 9/7/17 at approximately 6pm on F-Line at the Eastham Ad-Seg Unit Lieutenant Salvador Villanueva arrived at Keith’s cell front (F-1-14) and said: “Did you have your family call up here to complain about something?” Keith replied “yes,” and he proceeded to show Villanueva large amounts of cracked and peeled paint on his cell walls. Lt. Villanueva told Keith that Assistant Warden Gregory Vaughn had told him to come talk to Keith but he was unclear as to what was to be done. Lt. Villanueva said he would call the Warden back in order to receive further instruction.
Please be advised that prior to this incident, prisoner rights advocates Joan Kain, Dr. Heinz Leitner, and Ms. Julie Schneyer had filed complaints on Keith’s behalf in order to address the pervasive and systemic problem of black mold and cracked/peeled paint in the cells at the Eastham Ad-Seg Unit. In her rebuttal complaint Ms. Joan Kain requested that an independent third party take digital photos of the cell walls in Keith’s cell (F-1-14) and other cells on F-Line which have similar problems. In a previous Ombudsman complaint (INQ-11-5229-76) Eastham Ad-Seg employees had erroneously reported the inside of the Ad-Seg cells were free of cracked and peeling paint.
Note: On 9/5/17, TDCJ Lieutenant Baker did take digital photos of the walls in Keith’s cell and that of one of his neighbors, Noah Coffin (TDC# 1795167). These digital photos taken by Lieutenant Baker must have revealed some glaring inconsistencies in earlier reports, because Mr. Coffin was moved immediately and on 9/8/17 Keith was moved from cell F-1-14 to E-1-13. Keith reports cell E-1-13 also has a serious problem with cracked and peeling paint as well as black mold spores!
We view this as a retaliatory act by Assistant Warden Vaughn and Lieutenant Villanueva. Keith reports that Eastham prison officials moved different prisoners in both he and Mr. Coffin’s previous cells! It is obvious that Eastham Unit prison officials refuse to acknowledge serious infrastructure and safety hazards. Eastham Unit prison officials will not initiate remediation measures to eradicate black mold spores.
We do not want Keith moved! We want an independent third party to immediately take digital photos of allthe walls in cell E-1-13 as well as the areas around the toilet and under the sink where Keith reports mold being present! TDCJ’s own Employee Rules of Conduct prohibit this unethical behavior of Assistant Warden Vaughn and Lieutenant Salvador Villanueva. P.D. 22 Rule 22b states: the agency prohibits “harassing or retaliating against an offender or another individual for participating in an official investigation/inquiry or for pursuing legal activities (i.e. petitioning the courts) – Violation Level 1.”
Be advised, Keith does have two federal lawsuits pending and one specificially cites not only retaliation for engaging in “protected conduct” but he also challenges unconstitutional conditions of confinement such as this exposure to toxic substances such as black mold.
I am requesting that an immediate investigation be undertaken at the Eastham Ad-Seg Unit namely into Assistant Ward Gregory Vaughn’s performance methods supervising the Ad-Seg Unit. There are noticeable appearances of a pattern of neglect and retaliation. It is high time the American Corrections Association start performing thorough inspections of these aging structures and actually look closely at the living conditions of prisoners who are trapped in solitary confinement for decades!
Lieutenant Villanueva and Assistant Warden Vaughn should be held accountable for their actions. Black mold, toxic water, rodent and rat infestation–no human being should be forced to live in these conditions. Let’s stop making excuses and commence to rectifying these serious issues.