THIS IS AN OPEN LETTER TO ROOTS ACTION.ORG, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS, TEXAS STATE LEGISLATORS, AND PRISONER RIGHTS ADVOCATES & ACTIVISTS THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES AND EUROPE!!
Dear Roots Action and Environmental Activists and Free World friends,
My name is David ‘Chino’ Martinez TDC#613186 I am writing this complaint on my behalf and experience of working for the Texas Correctional Industries Metal Fabrication Plant at the H.H. Coffield Unit which is located in Tennessee Colony, Texas. I recently worked in the painting department at the plant. Many people are at serious risk of being exposed to dangerous cancer-causing inhalants and fumes without being issued the proper air ventilated safety masks to protect them while they work!! Please note: Prisoners in Texas are not paid anything for their labor and we exploited by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The entire work area at the Metal Fabrication Plant at the Coffield Unit has a faulty venti¬lation system that is not fully operational” and does not protect prison workers or TCI employees from hazardous and toxic fumes that are put into the atmosphere by numerous welding projects and painting projects. The plant is currently filling an order for 5,000 storage lockers ordered by the Texas National Guard. Many prisoners are afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation. Prisoners are threatened with disciplinary action if they don’t sign Material Safety Data Sheets which give the ‘appearance’ as if Texas prisoners are being given the proper training and safety equipment in this very volatile and hazardous atmosphere. If prisoners complain about the unsafe conditions, they receive disciplinary cases and lose their jobs!!
Last year, the local Fire Marshal of Anderson County did a surprise inspection and warned the Plant Manager Anthony S. Carlile not to have prisoners painting anything on the ‘open floor’ where ventilation is very minimal. However, prisoners are currently forced to engage in these hazardous and illegal practices with no regard for their health and safety!!
The paint we use in the Metal Fabrication Plant here on the Coffield Unit and on many other units and plants throughout Texas has a warning label that the paint has the potential to cause CANCER!!! However, this is only one of the environmental hazards prisoners face working in the Metal Fabrication Factories. The Plant Manager and his staff which consists of Mr. Michael W. Bentley Industrial Specialist VI, Mr. James C. Fields Industrial Specialist VI, and
Ms. Stefanie J. Hefner Accountant have set up deceptive practices in which they have conspired with T.D.C.J. employees to set-up a warning system. This warning system has been devised to give the Metal Fabrication Plant Manager and his cronies a ‘heads up’ when any type of INSPECTOR OR AUDITOR is at the front gate!!! The order has been given to all prisoners and Texas Correctional Industry employees to shut down ALL ACTIVITIES that have been deemed illegal and unsafe by the Fire Marshal or any other oversight Agency.
But please NOTE!!!
The state of Texas has set up rules, policies, and LAWS which make it virtually impossible for Agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or even OSHA to come in these prison facilities and do a meaningful inspection of these facilities. People should not have to work under these conditions-This is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ there is so much more to report but I am concerned about my safety and freedom as well as the safety and freedom of Keith ‘Malik’ Washington TDC#1487958
who has committed his life to improving conditions in Texas Prisons. No matter what anyone in Texas tells you, retaliation is real!!
I’m bringing this information to your attention because this is something that needs to be investigated and corrected. These are true facts from my experience and I have not been coerced in anyway.
My letter to you is totally voluntary. Thank you for your time and please post my letter prominently on your website and many others!!
-David ‘Chino’ Martinez TDC#613186