Prison officials, ACA inspectors ignore contaminated water in Texas prisons

October 21, 2015

by Keith ‘Malik’ Washington

“Multi-racial unity among and across oppressed and exploited groups is necessary for re­volutionary alliance that can win but must be built upon the basis of independent strength within the Black revolutionary movement itself (and in the other oppressed groups as well), not by ceding leadership to others outside that community.” – Assata Shakur, in Joseph G. Ramsey’s “Revolutionary Relatability: Assata: An Autobiography as a Site of Radical Teaching and Learning,” Socialism & Democracy, 2014, Vol. 28, No. 3

Revolutionary greetings to all!

Riverkeeper environmental activists collected water samples from this creek for 10 years to prove Donaldson Correctional Facility in Alabama was releasing untreated sewage into the creek. Contaminated water and other environmental hazards threatening prisoners are finally beginning to get the attention they’ve long deserved. – Photo: Riverkeeper
Riverkeeper environmental activists collected water samples from this creek for 10 years to prove Donaldson Correctional Facility in Alabama was releasing untreated sewage into the creek. Contaminated water and other environmental hazards threatening prisoners are finally beginning to get the attention they’ve long deserved. – Photo: Riverkeeper

In the September 2015 edition of Prison Legal News, Panagioti Tsolkas of the newly formed Prison Ecology Project wrote a scathing article that shed light on a serious problem at a prison located in Navasota, Texas. Dangerous levels of arsenic have been found at the Wallace Pack Unit.

Arsenic is a heavy metal that is poison to human beings! I actually was housed at the Wallace Pack Unit at the time the article was released. In fact, I had been sounding the alarm about high levels of arsenic in Wallace Pack’s water supply.

I was very pleased and quite surprised to see the article. Many people don’t understand that in Texas prisons we live in a virtual informational “black hole.” It is extremely hard to get authentic information about our conditions in or out of these modem day gulags. After reading Mr. Tsolkas’ article, I and many other prisoners discovered high levels of arsenic have been a problem at Wallance Pack Unit for well over seven years!

On Aug. 19, 2015, the Wallace Pack Unit was being audited by the American Correctional Association, commonly known as the ACA. The ACA sets standards, policies and best practices for prisons across Amerika. ACA even issues a coveted accreditation to those Amerikan prisons that meet their “strict” standards.

During the audit, one of the inspectors spoke to me personally and the first thing I mentioned to her was the presence of high levels of Arsenic in our water supply. ACA gave Wallace Pack Unit its stamp of approval. However, one question has been haunting me and keeping me up at night:

“How could the American Correctional Association continue to give Wallace Pack Unit passing marks and rave reviews if the drinking water is contaminated with poison?”

[Read the rest on San Francisco Bay View]

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