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  • Rob Will

Inside Death Row Part One to Three

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

The conditions on Texas Death Row are getting worse daily. The new Warden and Major have been implementing extremely oppressive “new rules and policies”. Some of us here simply refuse to stand by and do nothing in the face of injustice.

Here’s what has been going on:

On Tuesday 11-18-05, I was told that I was being moved to F-Pod, the disciplinary pod. A few days before, 2 new officers wrote me 2 fictitious cases for “having paper on my wall”. The officers. Officer Hicks and Ashworth wrote the cases in retaliation for a previous incident. Long story short – they were mad because they attempted to violate policy and make me face the dayroom bars during a routine cell search and I refused.

From Tuesday night to Friday morning, I attempted to go through the proper channels and speak with a ranking officer about the fake write ups. No luck. Friday, me and several other guys lit a massive bonfire for various reasons. I lit mine in protest of the fictitious write-ups and the others lit theirs because the officers on duty let the chow cart sit for hours. Plus, they simply wouldn’t answer the call-speaker.

On Monday 11-24-05, I came back from disciplinary court after being found guilty by Captain Wickersham, of the 2 fake write-ups.

They always find everyone guilty regardless of the circumstances so I wasn’t surprised. After I came back I lit another huge bonfire in protest and several others joined me.

The officers on duty were harassing people for “not shaving properly” and gave out several write-ups to guys for having paper on their walls. That’s one of the “new policies”.

Since at least 1978, Death Row prisoners could have a calendar and pictures on their walls, but not now. Another pointless new rule designed to oppress and harass! Since yet another “new policy” disallows S.S.I.’s (Inmate workers from population) to be assigned to the pod for clean-up duty, we flooded massively to clean the run.

For about an hour it looked like a miniature Niagara Falls before they shut off the water.

And whaddya know -S.S.I.’s magically appeared and cleaned up the water for the next hour.

The next night, on Tuesday 11-25-05, two officers came to my cell and told me that I was being dropped to Level 3, the most restrictive disciplinary level. So, me and two other guys who are fed up with fake cases, lying officers and oppressive “new policies” decided to “fade the team” on protest. I told the officers I’m not moving and respectfully explained why. Sergeant Kennedy arrived, spoke to me for a few minutes, then left and came back with the “emergency response team”.

The ER Team consists of 5 officers in full riot gear: gas masks, riot helmets, riot vests, knee guards, etc. The lead man on the team carries a thick Plexiglass riot shield. Several other officers were present with gas masks, one with the incident (video) camera and Sgt. Kennedy with the gas: "Offender Will, submit to hand-restraints and strip search or chemical agents and a 5 man team will be utilized".

I had a sheet taped to my door which I planned on holding up to block some of the gas, but Sgt. Kennedy popped the pan-hole and rapidly snatched it. (Yes, I know, I’m a genius!) Before I could get my mattress put up to the door, “sccchheeehheehhhwwwhh”- I was hit with gas.

At least I managed to quickly grab a towel to cover my face. As procedure states, they waited 5 minutes, gassed me again; waited another 5 minutes and gassed me a third time. Then, the team ran in on me and I met them half-way to the door.

“Bip, bamm, bang, bapp, bamm!” We struggled and I ended up slammed against the side of my bunk with my head about 6 inches from the wall. I continued to resist, they couldn’t get me cuffed, then one officer slammed my head against the wall about 4 times in rapid succession. Now, that’s surely not following proper procedure!

After I was cuffed they held me down with my body and face on a floor full of gas and strip-searched me. That nasty little tactic assures that a person’s “family jewels” and everything else will stay on fire for the next day and a half. They then moved me to 70 cell, where I am now. I should add that the 4 other officers on the team didn’t pull any dirty tricks. I expected to get beat up a bit, but only a true coward would bang someone’s head against the wall in a 5 on 1 fight. Not to mention they’re in full riot gear! There’s absolutely no way I could hurt an officer unless I had a weapon. And of course I didn’t and they all knew that.

*—* was next to go.

He went to recreation first thing in the morning on 11-26 and “jacked” (refused to leave) the rec yard. The ER team came, didn’t gas him, but ran in on *—* and he met them halfway. They struggled, ended up in a corner, and he was handcuffed. I just asked *—* "They pulled any dirty tricks?" and he said "no, not really". His injuries are various bumps and bruises; basically the same as me. Of course, I do have a huge bruise on my head from where Mr. Coward officer beat my head against the wall!

The supervising officer to the “use of force” on *—* was Sgt. Rusty Foteh. *—* “jacked” his chow tray and was the next to “fade the team”. Everyone should know that by policy they’re only supposed to gas a person 3 times in 5-minute intervals. Also, the chemical agents used are military (police grade) riot control gas. I’ve seen it spray out of the canister in a straight and heavy stream about 25 feet long. It’s some serious stuff!

Instead of following policy and gassing *—* three times, they hit him between 4 and 6 times! (One officer told me four, another inmate said 5 and another officer who was right there said 6). Lieutenant Duff was supervising this sadism and gross violation of their precious “policy” that they expect us to adhere to obediently and submissively. After the last shot of gas, the team ran in on him. In the struggle, one of the officers used handcuffs as a weapon to slam into *—* face. He has a wound from the blow that that runs form his forehead to his cheek. Another sadistic and cowardly move! I don’t see how he was even conscious after the excessive gassing and blow to the face, but it took awhile for them to cuff him. After they took him out of his cell, I yelled to him, "Are you all right?" and he answered "I’m cool". Besides the wound to his face, which didn’t require stitches or anything and wasn’t that severe, his injuries included a bunch of bumps and bruises. Lt. Duff added a chilling note to this incident later that night by telling *—* in a threatening manner “I’ll have something for you next time”. As you can see, the staff here at the Alan B. Polunsky Unit follow policy only when it suits them to do so.

I should add that our form of resistance is indeed non-violent. I’ve seen what happens when a person doesn’t struggle back against the ER team. It’s not pretty; think of the laws of physics.

We desperately need your outside support. We’re asking everyone to call, fax or write the unit and express concern over the various violations of policy I’ve listed. If the prison staff knows that there are people on the outside who care about what happens to us in here, they will be MUCH less likely to do extremely bad things to us. Civilian oversight is absolutely necessary and I can’t stress that enough.

Please help us on the outside and we’ll do what we can in here. The head Warden's name is Mr. Biscoe and the Assistant Warden is Mr. James Jones. The Major’s name is Mr. Miller and the Captain’s name is Captain Bailey.

I suggest speaking to all four of them. It’s extremely important; we need your support.

The number to the unit is (936)967-8082. The Warden's office is extension 110. The administration recently pulled a Henry-Kissinger-esque move and relocated the only guy I know of who consistently sends out news from down here on F-Pod.

They moved him to the total other end of the building on A-Pod. But, he’s still on disciplinary status! My neighbor told me that when he asked a ranking officer about the move, he replied, "There are too many outside eyes on Death Row, especially back here. We can’t do everything we want".

“Everything” surely meaning treating us worse than we’re already treated. Well, someone has to keep the “outside eyes” back here, so I hope to continue sending out news.

I’m sure I’ll face some retaliation but Im prepared for that. I don’t support the death penalty and I don’t support the repressive system, which I’m forced to live under every day. They’re constantly stripping away what little privileges we have left and coming up with ridiculous “new policies”. The administration would like nothing more than to turn this into a Dachau of Auschwitz-style concentration camp.

Myself, *—*, *—* and the small percentage of others here who consistently strive for change will continue to so so. Outside support is an absolutely necessary and vital element of the struggle.

We hope and pray those on the outside will stand with us in strength and solidarity.

Robert Will

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