Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Hell Hole News #28 by Hank Skinner - 03/04/2011

Friday March 4th, 2011

The latest news you can use about TX Death Row, where “State Officials” lunacy and idiocy reigns supreme and where the fun never ends!

About a month and a half ago my homeboy and good friend, fellow hillbilly Donald Keith Newberry aka Lizzerd, made himself some playtime “body armor’ outta cardboard, state shaving razors and handles.

Before I explain this, let me explain a little more about the man himself, Lizzerd. For the last year or so Lizzerd has been engaged in a sort of spittin’ contest with “unit officials”, aka Lil’ Tim Lester, Asst. Warden and Good Ol’ boy Joe Smith, Major. Lizzerd has a wild sense of humor and he delights in showing these two state clowns how he can outsmart them and defeat all their efforts to constrain him. Think the road runner vs Wylie coyote or Bo & Luke Duke vs Roscoe P. Coltrain (the Dukes of Hazzard TV show).

Lizzerd likes to take advantage of all their lil’ “heightened security measures” and use ‘em to get loose or otherwise make ‘em look like fools, which ain’t hard, anyway. Then he highsides ‘em about it. Lizzerd holds the record for most gas used in a use of force (UOF). That used to be my record but I laid off doing run-ins due to health and age issues. I’m almost half a century old and I got high blood pressure and other age related health problems I won’t bore you with. Fightin’ five (5) or more swine at once while covered in “chemical agents” is a a youngster’s endeavor or, an idiot’s, whichever comes first. So I’m outta the crash test dummy business for good, I guess. I can do one good one if I need to; I just don’t need to, yet. After I almost died over in Huntsville on their lil’ horizontal cross 03.24.10, I came to see the folly and futility of so much these “TDCJ officials” do and say. Why cater to asswipes like that? Now I just laugh at ‘em. I do a lot of laughing, too!!

Back to Lizzerd. They’ve started getting real frustrated over the way he beats ‘em at every turn. For over a year they’ve had him isolated out on a section by himself. 14 cells going to waste for one man! Your tax dollars at work, folks! They think they’re going to break him. It ain’t worked out that way at all. Lizzerd, like me, prevails, perseveres, outlasts and overcomes all their foolery.

So they’re now down to just beating him up every time they get him in cuffs. In may views it takes a real special kind of coward to beat a man who’s in cuffs and defenseless.

So Lizzerd makes this body armor out of cardboard and embeds lil’ pieces of state razors in everywhere – these are disposable razors, the blades are just a lil’ ribbon of stainless steel an inch and a half long by three eights wide and .14000” thick. Too tiny and flimsy to cut anything but paper, outside the plastic body the come encased in. But they look good, stuck in these lil’ pasteboard arm guards, shin guard and chest protector. They say he drew designs on ‘em and dressed ‘em up – “TX death row” and ‘born to die”, etc. Lizzerd says he got the idea from a porcupine. Already I like hedgehogs and porcupines, cool lil’ creatures.

Lizzerd’s back up plan here is to black out his cell lights and let ‘em run-in on him and watch ‘em pull up short when they run up on him covered in razors. Whoa! WTF?!! It ain’t gonna do nothin’ but it’s a helluva gag. On first blush it looks dangerous as hell. The premise is “hey, don’t nobody touch me, won’t nobody get hurt”, Ha/Ha, Ha/Ha LMAO! So if you insist on calling it a “weapon”, it’s certainly a passive one.

Consider this in context of what the goon squad wears. Five (5) or seven (7) of ‘em: full coverage helmets with gas masks and wire cage face shield; stab proof flak vest with Revlar inserts and high padded neck brace; forearm guards, thigh and shin guards, black racing gloves with the rubberized rib guards, etc. Ever seen a hockey player being the goalie? There you go: Five (5) or seven (7) hockey goalies. Even if you got a pair of steel shanks taped to your hands with string and a bat, you can’t hurt ‘em. No way.

Speaking of this, it’s always interesting to watch these fools’ behavior. After a run-in, they take off their helmets and start whoopin’ and hollerin’, high fivin’ each other, like they really done som’, you know? I tell ‘em “wait a minute, wait a minute. It took seven of you silly fat fxxckers, wearin’ all that contraption, just to run-in on one prisoner standin’ there in his boxer shorts and flip-flops? You sprayed eight (8) cans of gas on this man and despite all this, 3 of you still got your asses whipped and two more almost, yet you feel like you won and really did som’? It takes all y’all and all that gear and all that gas to defeat just one barefoot, boxer wearin’ convict, yet you’re proud of yourselves?!?  You oughtta be standin’ behind Mama’s apron still, peepin’ out! Ha/Ha. You oughtta see the look on their faces when I tell them this. Everybody on the section is roaring laughing at these clowns; even the Lieutenant, Captain and camera operator.

So, when they run-in on a blacked-out cell they use a high powered spotlight called a Q-Beam – that intense light instantly reflects off the lil’ pieces in Lizzerd’s “armor”. Yeah, it’d be a real show stopper until they see what it really is. Ha/Ha.

They get Lizzerd’s armor and decide this is som’ real serious stuff! LOL. So they put Lizzerd on “razor restriction” and arbitrarily decide all the rest of us can no longer possess disposable shaving razors. In prison conditions law parlance, that’s what’s known as an “overreaching exaggerated response to legitimate penological needs”. “Prison officials can infringe ‘our’ constitutional rights only if it is absolutely necessary in furtherance of a legitimate penological goal or objective”. This is the U.S. Supreme Court case law I’m quoting here. If Lizzerd abused his razors, they can do something about that, with him; however it gives them no authority at all to punish the rest of us, or deprive us of items we’re permitted by policy to possess.

But wait! TDCJ has a strict grooming policy and they require you to be clean shaven. Yes, they are still enforcing that policy, too.

In your cell there is a sink and a mirror where you can shave. In the shower there is neither. So the Major arbitrarily decides no one can have a razor anymore except in the shower and “shave by feel”. Bullshit. Lil’ Lester tried this same thing when he was Major back here and everybody bucked and just quit shaving and “grooming” altogether.

TDCJ has no right to make anyone cut and disfigure themselves in order to comply with their “grooming standards”. That’s inevitably what happens when you’re forced to “shave by feel” in the shower.

Not only that but it creates an unacceptable risk of infection by blood-borne diseases like HIV, syphilis, herpes, hepatitis C and a myriad of other blood-borne pathogens. In 1998 TDCJ Officer Herbitch intentionally infected me with hepatits C. I successfully sued and won, forced them to give me a treatment (over a year’s worth of Interferon recombinant-A Roferon shots 3 times a week and 600mg Ribavirin twice a day). It happened in the shower. As part of the settlement of that suit, TDCJ agreed to do away with the razor boards where they hung all the razors on hooks and withheld them until a prisoner was in the shower. They agreed to give each individual prisoner his own razor and allow him to keep it on person. Slowly but surely since, lil’ Lester has eroded and violated that agreement by degrees – first he decided that Level III couldn’t have razors because they’re assaultive-aggressive; then he decided Level II couldn’t have ‘em for som’ other equally ridiculous reason. Lester’s favorite tactic was to withhold razors and then use it as an excuse to keep a prisoner on level for “refusing to groom”. All this totally overlooks the fact that TDCJ’s grooming policies have been found unconstitutional by a Federal Court and TDCJ prohibited from enforcing them. Lil’ Lester doesn’t care about anyone’s rights or TDCJ policy or anything else. He does what he wants. He’s above the law. Just ask him.

Now however, TDCJ/Lil’ Lester is courting a far different disaster: MRSA, which is running rampant in jails and prisons everywhere. MRSA is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

The other day I went to the shower behind one of these prisoners who’d “shaved by feel” and there was blood all over the floor and on the wall and door. That’s a biohazard, big time. If that blood contained HIV, Hep C or any other blood-borne pathogen and you have one lil’ open sore on your foot, a scratch, a cut and you come into contact with that blood, you’re infected.

They’re creating an environment ripe for transmission of MRSA. Now the Major is saying they’re going to start locking the bean holes on the showers when someone is in there and when the showers are not in use.

A bean hole, for those of you who don’t know, is a lil’ trap door portal at the same height as a mail slot on the door of a house – just above knee level. It’s a rectangle 5 ½ “ high by approx. 15” wide with a locking door on the outside. They use it to handcuff you before you come out and to unhandcuff you coming in. There’s one on the cell door as well, used for the same purpose, and to feed your trays through.

Currently with the bean hole open, we reach out and hang our boxers on the doorknob of the shower door – it don’t turn; the door is operated electrically from the picket to unlock it. The knob is only there to pull it open with. We hang our towel and boxers out there to keep them from getting wet.

The shower stall is like a small closet, three (3) feet wide by six (6) feet deep. The walls are slick. There’s no hooks, bolts, knobs or anything to hand something on. There’s no mirror. The way it’s arranged in relation to the showerhead, once you turn on the water, every surface inside it, floor to ceiling, gets soaking wet; even the ceiling, by rising steam/moisture.

MRSA thrives in wet areas. The showers have an exhaust vent but that vent cannot circulate air and cannot exhaust at all if the bean hole is shut because the shower is a solid metal door with only a plexiglass view port at face height. When the bean holes are locked, the shower never dries out after use and starts to smell like a wet, dead dog – moldy, rotten and mildewy.

They have a crew of prisoner workers out of population called support service inmates (SSI’s) who come around to sweep, mop and clean the showers. On each of six (6) pods there are six (6) sections of fourteen (14) cells arranged in a two-tiered configuration of seven (7) cells each, called one row and two row. On each row of a section is one shower stall shared by (7) ore more prisoners. I say “seven (7) or more” because if there are unshowered prisoners in other sections and all (7) are showered already in the next section, they will utilize the empty shower and bring prisoners over from the next section to shower.

When the SSI’s come to clean, they use the same brush and bucket of cleaning solution to clean all the showers on the whole pod, 12 showers total. So in actuality they’re just transferring whatever pathogens are present all around the whole pod. Even worse, I’ve seen them fill the shower bucket by dipping it into the mop water bucket they used to mop the floors all over the whole pod.

With this sort of pathogen transfer extant and the shower bean holes closed so the shower stall never fully dries out, it’s a recipe for disaster. The showers are not designed to be shaving in them. More so, there’s no place inside the shower you can hang you boxers and towel if the bean hole is locked. You’d just have to lay them on the floor.

Then there’s Lester’s Lil’ no clothesline rule. First he told us we couldn’t have a clothesline at all. So I filed a grievance on him, me and Todd Willingham did and won it. Lester couldn’t stand that so he made up all those other rules – you can only have a clothesline made of this certain material and you can only run it from here to here and you can only have it up from 6:00pm to 6:00am, blah, blah, blah. See, Lester is a micro-managing idiot in the first degree.

We don’t shower at night. Ha/Ha. We shower in the daytime, 6:30am-6:00pm on first shift. Our towels, boxers and other clothes, washrags, etc. are wet during that time and that’s when they need to be hung up.

The next ingredient in this recipe for disaster is that before we came over here, this whole building, all six (6) pods, 504 cells, was ad seg and they were all shit slingers. Once TDCJ started using pepper spray to subdue prisoners in ad seg, the prisoners started responding with liquefied feces. It got so bad at one point that officers could not come on a section unless they were wearing a face shield, a rain slicker and rubber hat. To this day, every time it rains and gets damp here, it reactivates the shit that is still in all the cracks and crevices of the cells, floors, outside walls, etc. So anytime it gets humid here, the faint (or sometimes very strong) scent of shit is in the air. Shit is 66% bacteria.

Then there’s the laundry. Ever since Tabler’s big escapade with Senator Whitmire, the population prisoners hate death row with a passion. They’re not washing the clothes but doing what they call “short runs” where they do not use enough Dejest (soap) to clean the poundage of clothes in the extractor (giant washer) and they cheat the cycle card it runs on, so that instead of two washes, spins, rinses and a sanitation cycle (utilizes a steam manifold and 180°-200°F water to disinfect the clothes), then final spin out, they use one 6 or 8 minute wash, one rinse, one spin and no sanitation cycle. That’s just enough to mix up the dirt and redistribute it evenly through the clothes – so now everybody gets some of everybody else’s pathogens. They they run it through the dryer at 300°F or more and cook it into the clothes. The result is that all the clothes, towels and sheets we get smell like B.O. and stinky feet; and are either dookie brown or sewage gray and not fit for human consumption, or use.

Finally is the new problem created by Capt Shannon Price. She tells the necessity officer he is not allowed to give us any state soap at all and the officers who pass it out to limit us to only five (5) bars a week, no more, no matter what. So, with no access to soap and bleach we’re forced to wear the clothes and use the sheets “as is”.

Incidentally, Shannon, aka  Sha-nae-nae, is no longer with us. She got busted for illicit drug use and dirty U.A. and terminated – escorted off the unit. Yay!! So at least one good thing happened, eh.

Captain Patrick Dickens replaced Sha-nae-nae. We’ll see what he says about all this, as I’m about to bring it to him.

We crush up this soap and use it to wash our clothes, linens and towels. It works really great for that. To give you the proper perspective on the soap, consider this: the bars TDCJ makes are lye soap from rendered fat they get for free and prisoners produce it so the cost is in negligible. The soap is “one use” bars, 1 ½ “ wide, 2 ½ “ Long and ¼ “ thick – enough for one shower if you use it sparingly.

Some of you may say “why don’t you buy soap from the commissary?” The answer is that only level I prisoners can buy unrestricted soap from the commissary. Level II & III can buy only five (5) small “personal use” bars of Dial soap from commissary every two (2) weeks and, if you’re on commissary restriction, as most of us are, you can buy only five (5) bars a month. Yes, I know that’s crazy. Dial contains triclosan, which is an anti-bacterial agent and, while it’s good for washing your body, it’s no good at all for washing clothes, linens and towels. The TDCY lye soap disinfects. Dial doesn’t. And, finally, not every prisoner here has $ with which to buy soap.

In a place like prison, where so many men are confined in such a small place, where pathogens run rampant and infections spread so quickly; in the age of MRSA running rampant in jails and prisons across the nation, you gotta wonder what on earth these “prison officials” must be thinking? Lil’ Lester Pester says it’s to cut down on “trafficking and trading” is why they’re denying us access to soap and bleach. So, um, to keep one prisoner from giving soap to another one is more important than keeping your prisoners clean and preventing the spread of disease?

Two prisoners here, that I know of, have suffered serious staph infections due to these filthy sheets – Jeff Pribble and Brent Ripkowsky. I’m sure there are probably others.

I myself have some kind of chronic skin infection on my ankles and legs, my sides and the backs of my arms that I’ve had for over 6 years now. The doctor here, D.O. Alan Zond, does not know how to cure it, yet he refuses to give me a referral to a dermatologist so I can get treatment. Consequently the infection is disfiguring me on a daily basis. I have scars and discoloration all over, where I’m infected. All Zond will do is give me triamcinolone cream – an anti-inflammatory, anti-itch medication, to mask the symptoms.

While I’m on that issue, medical care here now is non-existent. I have prescription eyeglasses. Policy says we’re allowed to renew our prescriptions and update via eye exam every two years. Mine have not been done in over six (6) years now. I put in for update and eye exam for the 8th time back in April 2010 and they gold me they’d take me to Estelle Unit to get my glasses done. That was 11 months ago. My eyeglasses are in four (4) separate pieces because the goon squad crushed ‘em in the repeated run-ins I suffered at the hands of Lil’ Lester Pester.

Back to the disaster in the making. It’s a lethal recipe, as I said: transmission of biohazards and blood-borne pathogens; inadequately washed, unsanitized clothes, undergarments and linens/towels; perpetually wet showers and towels; state created denial of adequate access to soap, bleach, Bippy scouring power and other hygiene sundries: forcing prisoners to “shave by feel” in showers not equipped nor designed for such activities, resulting in hazardous exposure of prisoners to blood, etc.

I cannot imagine the kind of idiot who, in a prison setting, would want to restrict prisoner access to soap, bleach and Bippy scouring powder. That is beyond insane.

Sorry this one got a little longwinded but this is a convoluted issue with many facets interrelated but separate issues; To any D.R. prisoner who becomes infected and wants to sue, have your attorney contact me. I’ll provide all the information and documentation needed to win the suit.

That’s it for this time, but wait ‘til you read the next one!

Best regards,


999143 Polunsky Unit
H W Hank Skinner
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston TX 77351-8580

For those of you who use JPay to write, don’t forget to always include your postal address and your e-mail address after your signature, so I can reply. don’t forget to enter my TDC number as an 8-digit number: 00999143.

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