death penalty news—–TEXAS

Texas Inmate Goes On Lone Hunger Strike In Protest Of Living Conditions

Texas death row inmate Taichin Preyor has decided to go on a lone
hunger strike as of May 12, 2009. In a letter from Preyor he speaks
about the deplorable conditions he is forced to live under while he
is incarcerated on the death row unit in Livingston Texas, The
Polunsky Unit.

“I have along with many other prisoners here on Texas’s death row
been severally affected by daily acts of physical, psychological, and
verbal abuse” he states. “This inhumane treatment and malicious
neglect comes from the prison guards, ranking officers, and the
supporting staff here at Texas death row.” He goes on to say “with
our living conditions worsening daily, we have been pushed into
action, taking up the first fight for justice against these
systematic forms of oppression.”

Fear of being retaliated against have kept Preyor quiet in the past,
but Preyor now states “Today I am breaking the chains that have once
bound me psychologically. Take for example my bold decision to step
out on faith with a nonviolent protest with the hope of drawing
attention to the despicable living conditions here on death row. This
is a brand new day and time, but at present the old fight against
repression rage’s on.” “I have at this time committed myself to a
lone hunger strike as a means to shed light on the dark deeds being
implemented daily by the TDCJ administration and supporting staff.

Preyor quotes Gandhi several times in his letter, and one passage
from Gandhi inspired him to hunger strike. ” I have learnt through
bitter experience the one supreme lesson: to conserve my anger, and
as heat conserved is transmitted into energy even so our anger
controlled can be transmitted into a power which can move the world”

Several Texas death row inmates Speak Out

Other Texas death row inmates have been writing and having family and
friends post on the Internet their concerns of the conditions on
death row. Peaceful inmate advocate, Hank Skinner has written several
letters of concern and in one letter states “Who’ve done nothing to
deserve it. We were put on lockdown yet again, for 5 more days,
searched, strip searched, wanded, scanned, strip searched again, had
all our property confiscated, even our mattresses and bedding. We
were put in empty cells with vents blowing ice-cold air all night and
left like that until 2:30 AM the next shift.” The complete writing
can be read here. ..

Inmate Rob Will speaks about sleep deprivation on death row. “It’s
impossible to sleep for more than an hour without being pulled from
your sleep by a variety of noises: count time(!), clean-up crew, chow-
time(!), scream-talking(!) by other inmates, beating on doors,
slamming gates, slamming doors, etc!, etc!, etc!” Rob is a talented
writer, and his writing can be read here. ..

Death row inmate Mark Stroman has also written several letters in
regard to the conditions on death row. From one of his writings
Stroman states “The day started again with banging of doors at
3:00am. Cold coffee, raw pancakes and spoonful of applesauce a baby
would refuse to eat plus a set of hate-filled guards that would pass
your cell up if your light is off and you’re not standing at your
door.”More of Stroman’s blog posts can be read on his page here.

Others have written about the conditions at the Polunsky Unit, but
that information is unavailable at this time.

Past hunger strikes

There have been hunger strikes in the past at Texas death row, and
January 1, 2007, several inmates hunger striked to bring awareness to
the deplorable conditions. Patrick Knight, Gayland Bradford, Steven
Woods, Reginal Blanton, Carlton Turner, Ryan Dickenson, William
Mason, and Stephen Moody, all inmates, and some which have already
been executed all went on a hunger strike after Daryl Wheatfall began
his. More about this can be read here. ..

A short lived hunger strike took place on October 2006, and that
information can be read here. ..

The conditions they wanted changed are:

1. Food: Nutritional and proper preparation.
2. Medical: Proper and unbiased medical treatment.
3. Hygiene: Hygiene products to be passed out on a weekly basis.
4. Laundry: All laundry be washed thoroughly with bleach and detergent.
5. Oppressive punishment: Gassing of inmates, being slammed while
cuffed, and being fed food loaves (A grotesque mixture of food mixed
into one loaf).
6. Contact and religious visits
7. Psychological services
8. Visitation list, and special visitation for inmates with visitors
from overseas
9. Work program, and recreational time
10. Access to the law library
11. Cell maintenance and property boxes
12. Commissary
13. Mail be delivered in a timely manner, the limitation of stamps,
and legal corresponding supplies.
14. Telephone calls
15. Television, art supplies.

The Cell Phone Scandal

Advocates and inmates both believe that conditions have worsened
since TDCJ was the scandal of contraband and smuggled in cell phones
in October 2008. Advocate and sister of Texas death row inmate Jeff
Wood came forward with the information that prison guards were the
only means of smuggling in cell phones. More information can be read
here. ..
Death row cells were searched, and a number of cell phones and
chargers were confiscated. Inmates believe they are being punished
for this, more than usual, and their basic human rights have been

According to Ralph Ward, member of the Dallas Chapter of TCADP, “What is required are letters from death-row inmates describing these abuses, both physical and psychological, and other details relative to these abuses which might indicate time, date, supportive facts,
etc. These letters need to be sent to Ms. Mary Felps, an attorney in Austin. Ms. Felps address is as follows:

Mary Felps
PO Box 49339
Austin, Tx 78765 ”