The Reality of Retaliation
When in January 2016 ranking TDCJ officials sole the media the story that Alton Rodgers, a Black man who was imprisoned at the William P. Clements Unit in Amarillo, Texas, died from injuries sustained in a fight with his cellmate, rank and file staff knew different.
For one, they knew Rodgers was discovered in his cell in a vegetative state, covered in bedsores, and severely malnourished. Basically, they knew it wasn’t physically possible that he was involved in any recent fight, but that their colleagues had definitely left him neglected and unattended for quite some time—weeks even.
What’s pertinent, is although lower officials and medical staff told the media what they knew, as reported by Amarillo Globe News reporter Aaron Davis, who was then covering the story, they only did so under condition of anonymity, because they said they feared retaliation for telling the truth.
Think on that.
This is how real official corruption and abuse is in U.S. prisons. And if employees fear retribution for exposing what really goes on in these places, you can just imagine what sorts of mistreatments face prisoners who dare to speak out.
Here’s what I got.
The First Wave of Retribution
My regular readers know I’ve come under recent fire for exposing abuse and corruption in Texas prisons. Despite outside protests and support, retaliations have escalated, and most recently culminated in officials directing outright criminal acts at me, including guards I’ve reported on recovering a weapon from the scene of an altercation and planting it in my cell the next day, and guards confiscating most of my belongings (again) with the intent of destroying them.
As previously reported, in early December 2016 I was threatened by ranking officials to have my property taken in revenge for, and to stop my exposing abuses and killings of prisoners by officials here. Then, based on those threats, on December 21, 2016, the same officials took a large amount of my property and had me sprayed with gas as I stood handcuffed from behind and locked inside a cell. I was left for several days with gas-contaminated laundry, bedding, and cell surfaces in violation of law and policy.
The entire situation was orchestrated by captain Patricia Flowers and lieutenant Crystal Turner. I was gassed by a guard Andrew Leonard under directions of sergeant Arleen Waak. Remember these names.
Following reporting these mistreatments to the outside, a series of protests ensued, which led to the return of my property on January 25, 2017, but I also received a retaliatory disciplinary infraction for having written about the Dec. 21st abuses, and its being posted online. The day after my property’s return I was compelled to dispose of some 9 large bags of it as a condition to retaining the most pertinent materials.
Also, my confidential communication lines with publishers, media correspondents, and editors were illegally severed to obstruct my writings.
A PBS journalist Kamala Kelkar then got involved, and questioned Texas prison system administrators about disciplinary retaliations against me and other TDCJ prisoners for exposing abuses. They first lied claiming I received no infractions, then when she presented a copy of the infraction, they changed their story but still lied claiming it had been overturned and declined any further comment.
I was next targeted with 5 more bogus and degrading infractions, and not allowed to attend the hearings, resulting in automatic guilty convictions.
Following Ms. Kelkar’s article being published and mounting public protest, all 6 infractions were overturned in succession and the conviction records erased. But because I persisted in writing about abuses, the 4 most disparaging cases were refiled and I was re-convicted upon again being denied attendance at the hearings. I wasn’t even notified that the cases were refiled nor reheard until after the hearings and guilty dispositions and penalties were imposed.
The Weapons Plant
Following this I wrote an article, “The Abuse Goes On,” about the inherent corrupting influences of the prison environment on employees, and used several ranking Clements Unit guards and their conduct as examples, including Turner, a sergeant Joe Preciado and others.
In response, Turner was quick to set the wheels of retribution in motion.
On the morning of March 23, 2017, she came to my cell with Leonard (the guard who gassed me on December 21st) and remarked “I see you’re still being stupid,” and “writing bullshit about us.” And that this was “the reason I took your shit the last time.” She threatened that I’d be targeted again, of which I made record of complaint.
After denying me outside exercise and fresh air for some 3 months, the next day (March 26th) Turner had guards take me outside.
While I was outside sergeant Arleen Waak, and a guard B. Perez, who also participated in taking my property on Dec. 21st, staged a search of my cell, as Turner, Leonard and Preciado stood outside the cell watching as staged witnesses, and to block view of a surveillance camera positioned directly in front of the cell.
When I was returned to the cell from outside, Waak told me they were saying a shank was found in my cell. I responded that it was obviously planted by them.
But the rabbit hole goes way deeper!
After that, several prisoners in the cellblock told me Leonard had recovered a shank in the pod without formally reporting it or turning it in, just before he and Turner had come to my cell on March 25th. The prisoner whom Leonard got the weapon from admitted giving it to him and that it was likely the same weapon they claimed was found in my cell while I was outside. In fact, several guards admitted knowing that it was.
The prisoner in question, Joseph Bailey #1300260, gave me his express written consent (which will be posted along with this article online) and requested to be identified and to have publicized the entire sequence of events leading up to and including him relinquishing the weapon to Leonard to expose the sorts of corruption and abuses guards engage in.
It all began on the morning of March 25th during lunch, when Bailey reached out of the open slot on his cell door with the object in his hand, during an altercation with another prisoner who was working the cell block and helping the pod guards John Stokes and A. Soe serve lunch. No one was injured, however. But, both guards observed the altercation and it was captured on film by pod surveillance cameras. Soe admitted in my presence that he, Turner and Preciado reviewed the altercation on video footage after he’d reported it to them.
It was then that Turner and Leonard came to the pod, and Leonard went to Bailey’s cell and told him to hand over the weapon, which he did. Turner and Leonard then came to my cell. They didn’t report the altercation or weapon, but a weapon was claimed to have been found in my cell the following day as they both stood watching. In turn I received an infraction for possessing a weapon.
I promptly grieved the planted weapon (but not mentioning Bailey), whereupon a coverup began. On April 6, 2017 a captain, Donald Dean, had Bailey summoned to an office to inquire about the weapon and altercation, apparently expecting Bailey would go along with everything being swept under the rug. He didn’t. So a rank and file investigator Dann Rivali was sent to stage a shakedown of his cell as if looking for an unrecovered weapon. But at the time several of Bailey’s neighbors including David Valls and Nathaniel Carter, with his consent, wrote and gave Rivali statements about seeing Leonard recover the weapon on March 25th.
The Property Theft
On that same April 6th date before Bailey was pulled out to see captain Dean, guards took me to a holding cell and confiscated nearly all of my property (11 large bags). Most all of it was legal materials and related to my pending and anticipated litigation, which I told them repeatedly on audio-visual record. Several of my related litigation I identified to them as newly initiated in Texas and Oregon federal courts and Virginia state courts, including against recent abuses.
This was done in furtherance of the Dec. 2016 threats to take all my property, which have since continued in retaliation for, and to stop my writings exposing prison abuses.
They took my property in collaboration with a HQ official Michael Wheeler, who has in the past been involved in allowing the theft of my legal property under the false pretext that my legal materials related primarily to inactive litigation. This way they could speciously justify taking it under TDCJ policy.
It is to be disposed of.
Taken were law books including my Prisoners Self Help Litigation Manual, volumes of otherwise unavailable legal cases; rules and statutes from Virginia and Oregon; volumes of handwritten legal reference notes; correspondence with numerous attorneys including involving pending cases of theirs in which I am a witness; all my legal addresses and all addresses, emails, and phone numbers of comrades, friends, supporters and editors/publishers; pending court files; work product materials; volumes of evidentiary documents; prison request, complaint, and grievance (evidence and administrative exhaustion) documents; witness statements and affidavits; discovery materials; my medical files related to medical claims and injuries sustained; learned treatises, and much more, all related to active and pending litigation and also anticipated litigation—especially concerning existing illegal abuses, including those mentioned here—and disciplinary files, all my recent incoming mail including from attorneys and court officials which I haven’t yet answered, and volumes of other legal materials.
Also taken were my art supplies, manuscripts of several books I am working on with various editors including an autobiography and various articles, and a newsletter I am compiling with other publishers called Main Line.
Wheeler became particularly interested to give Clements Unit officials the green light to confiscate my legal property when he and they became aware that they and their respective ‘Court Access’ departments are being sued by me in recently filed litigation brought in the Richmond, Virginia Circuit Court. Indeed, all the Clements Unit law library staff who participated in confiscating my legal property are parties to that suit, namely Clements Unit Access to Courts Supervisor Darryl Glenn, and law library guard Kenneth Holt.
They clearly had a retaliatory and obstructive interest in taking materials related to that case, which is contemptuous and illegal on its face. I’ll explain elsewhere and in greater detail the word games and outright lies they used to rationalize the confiscation.
Kangaroo Court in Session
To top it all off, the conspiracy came full circle when on the next day (April 7th), I was allowed to attend the disciplinary hearing on the planted weapon infraction and found that my guilt or innocence was being decided by captain Patricia Flowers. This denial of even the pretense of an impartial trial as guaranteed by law, where she originated the threat to take my property and set up the abuses of late December 2016 along with the very same guards who were involved in setting me up on the weapon case; also she was a prime target of outside protests and complaints on my behalf, I still have grievances pending against her and she is the lead defendant in a recently filed federal suit of mine.
She refused to recuse herself when I pointed these facts out dismissing them as “irrelevant,” she refused to allow me to represent myself and forced me to accept a staff representative, Julie Bristow, whose repeated lies were the basis on which I was denied service of prior cases and attendance at the hearings resulting in their being overturned on appeal, and she denied my right to call witnesses (I asked to call Bailey, David Valls, Nathaniel Carter and others).
When I pointed out that Bristow was openly hostile towards me in the hearing Flowers kicked me out, claiming she didn’t like my attitude although I was respectful throughout the hearing, and stating falsely that I was “interrupting.”
Following the hearing she, along with a lieutenant Narciso Sanchez, had me locked inside a small holding cell for over 3 hours and ordered guards to take more property from my cell, including my typewriter, all books (including law books), eating utensils, legal supplies like carbon paper and all my ink pens and more. I was returned to an essentially bare cell. Prior to the April 6 confiscation I possessed over 270 inches of mostly legal property. Afterward I was left with approximately 48 inches, and now have only about 18 inches. What I was left with is what they randomly chose to allow me, totally ignoring my every repeated effort to identify and receive what I needed and to explain how it all relates to active pending litigations.
While I was in the holding cell, Flowers walked past at around 4:45 pm and remarked, “Are you still in there? I told you I’d get you. I’ve got all your shit now! You won’t be doing much writing and suing for awhile!”
While I do need all possible help and support in countering Michael Wheeler and officials at Clements Unit in getting my property back, even if I don’t, I stand firm on my commitment to serve the people and to continue shining a much needed light into the dark corridors of these corrupt and oppressive institutions where multitudes suffer as bad and much worse than me. They also need help and a voice to the outside. Hopefully I have and am rendering them a service that will ultimately see an end to this vengeful criminal injustice.
Dare to struggle, Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!