URGENT – ATTENTION REQUIRED!

Friends,

we have received some disturbing news from our comrade Kenneth Foster Jr., who was commuted off of death row on August 30th 2007 and since then housed at the McConnell Unit in Beeville, TX. Kenneth has alerted me that he and many of the men he is stationed with in Close Custody have been repeatedly denied their recreation time. This is in direct violation with TDCJ policy and constitutes inhumane treatment of inmates. Men have gone days at a time without leaving their cells. Kenneth expressed to me that this isolation has ‘driven him to the breaking point’ and he is ‘about to go off’.

Kenneth has asked us to relay a plea for support from his comrades, abolitionists and supporters. Attached is a sample letter, or petition of grievance that can be either directly copied or personalized and then mailed in to the attached addresses. This is a small step toward improving the day-to-day experiences of our fighters on the inside and is a gesture that would be greatly appreciated. An individual complaint should be mailed to each of the 6 addresses. If you are able to help in this matter, reply to this E-mail to better track the grievance process.

I have asked that Kenneth keep us updated on the treatment of his level and to supply further details into this matter. On a positive note, I visited with Kenneth just before the new year and he was in good health and has a sharp focus on our future struggles.

Toward Abolition,

Laura Brady and the KFSG

PETITION DRAFT LETTER:

Dear Sir-

We would like to bring to your attention a very serious issue that we would like your attention and intervention on. It is involving situations that we feel involve violations of TDC Policy and also abuse of authority and indifference toward humane treatment.

We send you this petition on the behalf of men stationed on Close Custody (8 building, section K1 & 2) on the McConnell Unit in Beeville, TX.

This petition stems from the fact that men on Close Custody are purposely being denied their recreation privileges by the McConnell Administration. It seems that the reasons being given are not justified and from a consensus of what the officers say (relayed from the offenders there) is that this is being done strictly because they are Close Custody. While Close Custody may have lesser privileges than the rest of the Unit, without a doubt they are due what is allotted by TDC Policy.

On a consistent basis men are being denied recreation. Two reasons (one of the two or sometimes both) are given:

-weather is too bad for outside recreation
-lack of staff

While these reasons are given there are alternative routes to give the offenders recreation.

When weather is too bad for outside recreation the offenders have requested, as allotted to them by policy, dayroom recreation. Every Sergeant that works 8 building has told them that they do not get dayroom recreation, that there is no substitute when outside recreation is cancelled or that dayroom is not recreation. As we will show- this is contrary to policy.

*Page 32 of the TDCJ Offender Orientation Handbook says:

c) G5 Custody Offenders will be allowed two (2) hours each day.

It also states that:

Non-programmatic recreation activities may include:
*Dayroom games such as chess, checkers and dominoes.

So, it is clear that Policy states that dayroom is recreation.
In addition:

*Page 7 of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures states:
a. recreation-dayroom, gymnasium and outdoor recreation yard.

Therefore, McConnell Unit’s Staff’s statement that dayroom is not recreation is false.
Please take note that policy does not say what time Close Custody should get recreation. The Staff there has enforced a morning ONLY time and refuse to substitute for a later time if the weather clears.

We would like to point out that on K-pod (where Clsoe Custody is held) there are 3 sections: 1 and 2 are Clsoe Custody, but section 3 is Medium Custody. On days when weather is good, but the Administration states that they have a lack of Staff, 3 section gets their full privileges:

-they walk to chow
-they get their outside recreation
-they get their dayroom time

However, McConnell’s Administration states they don’t have officers to watch the inmates. Close Custody only gets 2 hours a day, whereas Medium Custody gets most of the day. How is it feasible that one section of offenders cannot be watched at the same time that another- directly next to it- is being watched? It’s obvious that what is being done is being done to Close Custody in an arbitrary fashion, it’s being done to lessen the work of the officers and it’s being done in disregard to what these men are due.

Close Custody offenders have begun grieving this process. They have stated what we have stated in this petition to you, yet nothing has changed. You can check grievance records, Step 1’s have been denied and Step 2’s are in motion. We would like to know why the McConnell Wardens are ignoring this situation.

We would also like to say that we feel that as long as offenders are following Policy that they should be treated fairly and given what they are due. McConnell Unit was just on lockdown from November 13, 2007-December 31, 2007. They were allowed recreation on January 1, 2008. They were denied recreation on January 2, 2008. They were given inside recreation on the 3rd and 4th and then denied recreation on the 5th, 6th and 7th of January. This is borderline cruel and unusual punishment when you force men to stay in a cell (with a cellmate) for 24 hours straight (when it’s not a threat to security- we understand that during lockdowns this must be endured, but nevertheless it is still a harsh treatment).

We are asking you to intervene before these offenders can no longer endure and we are asking you to intervene because it is right. If an offender breaks the rules he will be punished according to your Policy. We ask that the Policy be followed all of the time and not just when it’s convenient for the Unit. We hope that you will correct this problem and also give us a written response on this matter. Thank you for your time.

PETITION ADDRESSES:

Doug Dretke, Director
TDCJ
PO Box 99
Huntsville, TX 77342

Brad Livingston
TDCJ
PO Box 99
Huntsville, TX 77342

Kathy Cleere, Ombudsman Coordinator
TDCJ
PO Box 99
Huntsville, TX 77342

TDCJ-Office Inspector General
PO Box 4003
Huntsville, TX 77342

Keith Clendennen
Administrator for Offender Grievances
PO Box 99
Huntsville, TX 77320

TDCJ-CID Region IV (Mr. Castro)
HCO2 Box 965
Beeville, TX 78102

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