Filed under: Announcement, Central, Incarceration
Jason Renard Walker is Deputy Minister of Labor for the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter) and one of the contributors to the Fire Inside zine. He reports here on the unhygienic living conditions that inmates at the Ramsey Unit in Texas are exposed to.
by Jason Renard Walker
As I explained in a previous piece, we prisoners at the Ramsey Unit in Rosharon, TX, have to drink discolored and contaminated water. Besides this, we are being forced to live, eat and congregate under conditions that are egregiously unsanitary. Every cell has a colony of roaches living in it.
Throughout this prison are many cellblocks. Each cellblock has a number of cells that remain closed while we are in the day room. Several times a day we are allowed to go in or out, but never long enough to wash our hands or use the bathroom.
In response, the dayroom toilet area is used rapidly and throughout the course of the day. For one reason or another, since my arrival to this prison on 11/1/17, our cellblock in particular has no sink or hand washing station in or near the dayroom bathroom. I tried to grieve this issue but nothing has been done.
This contradiction has caused prisoners and guards to use the drinking cooler as a place to wash their hands. Without the presence of soap, and with the water being cold, germs are being spread from the toilet area to the drinking area. This can make the passing of E.Coli and many other surface germs possible.
In fact, a bad throat virus is going from one guard and prisoner to another. There are no flu-like symptoms, only an uncontrollable cough and throat pain. I believe this has something to do with the cooler water being used as a sink. Given that the nozzle is broken, water runs down the outside of the cooler, then into our cup. In order for it to be refilled, this same area has to be touched.
During an audit in relation to a prisoner’s death, Lieutenant Joe M. Lopez was advised to have a sink installed pronto, which he has failed to do. He was also told to replace the cooler (which he did), but brought back the old one as soon as inspection was complete.
The Need for Clean Eating Utensils
The need for clean eating utensils has been an ongoing problem, just like the others. Except during the inspection (when paper plates and cups were used to conceal the practice), we’ve been forced to use plastic cups, trays, and spoons that have a red greasy film on them, which only smears when we try to wipe it off.
Chunks of food from past meals, like mashed potatoes and mustard, can be found inside the cups and all over and underneath the trays.
This is a unit-wide known problem, but despite complaints, nothing has been done. One way we were able to partially remedy the problem was by taking our own cups and spoons to the chow hall.
Our personal cups and spoons look similar to the chowhall’s, but we were told by Sgt Hughes that this would no longer be allowed. He’s aware of the unsanitary utensils, admitted that he wouldn’t let a dog eat from them, and stated “sounds like a personal problem to me”, when a prisoner protested about the unclean trays.
I request that the support I gained to receive all of my property back be applied to this dilemma. With the help of Warden Powers and the Ombudsman, Lopez and others were exposed and disciplined for their role in having my property confiscated.
If the same effort is applied here, we will be able to reap the benefits of the change that will come as a result. File complaints to Warden Powers: 281-595-3491 and send emails to the Ombudsman. Let them know that these problems have been presented to Lieutenant Lopez, Sergeant Hughes, and Warden McMullen and the grievance staff, but have not been addressed.
Email McMullen at [email protected], the Texas Ombudsman at [email protected]tdcj.texas.gov, and email McMullen’s immediate seniors at [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected]. You can also contact the Region III Director’s Office at (281) 369-3736.
A Quick Script:
Hello, I am contacting you to make a complaint about the unsanitary and unhygienic conditions at the Ramsey Unit. Some cellblocks have no functioning sinks or hand washing units around the bathroom, which has led to inmates and guards using the drinking coolers as hand washing units, rendering the drinking coolers unsanitary and unfit for purpose. In addition, inmates have complained of their food being served with unsanitary cups, trays and spoons that still contain rotting food debris, which presents a clear food hygeine issue. These issues have been presented to Lieutenant Lopez, Sergeant Hughes, and Warden McMullen and the grievance staff, but have not been addressed.
Please be aware that you may be held responsible for any harm that may come to any inmate at the Ramsey Unit as a consequence of your negligence and failure to fulfil your duty of care towards these inmates.
Dare to struggle, dare to win! All power to the people!
Jason Renard Walker #1532092
1100 FM 655
Rosharon, TX 77583