By Comrade Keith Malik Washington
Peace and Blessings, Sisters and Brothers!
The state of Texas and prison officials who work for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) do not want you to read this essay. They want you to continues to accept the deceptions and lies they feed you about their so called criminal justice system.
A #MeToo project in Texas prisons is taking off; wimmin who are housed inside facilities operated by TDCJ are ready to begin telling their stories, and these will be coming out in the following weeks and months. You may be surprised to know the pervasive and systemic problem of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and abuse of wimmin inside TDCJ prisons. Allow me to explain.
In early 2014 I was housed at Wynn Farm’s medium custody unit, after spending the prior year at the same facility but in the Ad-Seg unit. The warden there, Kevin Mayfield, was known to hate prisoners and created an atmosphere in which TDCJ officers felt comfortable mistreating and abusing them. He also demonstrated erratic behavior, and there were whispers of alcohol addiction circulating widely (though these could be unconfirmed rumors).
But Mayfield’s abuse wasn’t restricted to prisoners; he also made inappropriate sexual overtures and advances to a commissary employee named Ms. Duke. This was only the beginning, and he was about to get a dose of karma. The state of Texas ordered an audit of state-issued Blackberry phones. Warden Mayfield was one of the employees chosen to have his Blackberry searched, and was found to have sexually explicit images on his state-issued device.
Some say he had photos of his secretary on the phone. Some say he had photos of children on his phone. But apparently, he had something inappropriate because Mayfield was fired in 2014! Not long after this, he attempted to take his own life.
For those of you who doubt the validity of or the veracity of my allegations, I encourage you to question Senator John Whitmire. Better yet, ask TDCJ”s new public information officer Jeremy Desel! Or better yet, do your own online research concerning the corrupt and unscrupulous agency.
But the problem goes way beyond Mayfield. TDCJ has a serious problem with ignoring sexual harassment in the workplace. It is time to expose these issues and rectify the problem now. Wimmin are not sex objects; they are human beings deserving of dignity and respect!
In 2015, Sergeant Eddie Collins was working as a shift supervisor at the Pack Unit located in Navosta. I was only there for approximately 120 days in 2015 but in that short time I observed Collins be charged with sexual harassment and sexual misconduct and not a damn thing happened! How do you think his victims felt? I remember the female TDCJ employees who were victims to Collins’ unwanted advances but I will preserve their anonymity out of respect.
Here at Eastham Unit, there have been numerous allegations of gender-based discrimination and misconduct, and one Lieutenant was recently fired for sexual harassment. But how many more have not been held accountable and gotten away with their bad behavior?
And if this is how female staff are treated, how do you think our incarcerated sisters are treated?? You see sisters and brothers there is an uneven power dynamic which exits within these prison walls. Ranking officers are given a lot of responsibility and authority. Many abuse that authority and enforce their will upon subordinate employees and prisoners alike. The office of the Inspector General is supposed to thoroughly investigate claims of sexual abuse or harassment in the workplace and of the prisoners housed in TDCJ facilities. However, I have observed that the IG performs half-hearted and lackluster investigations and many times the sexual predators in GREY continue on when there is more than enough evidence to have them convicted in a court of law!
There are many different shades and colors to changing the culture inside TDCJ. However, let it be known to all that the ultimate culture change for me and other abolitionists in Texas and beyond is to CLOSE ALL PRISONS!!!
But until then, we will fight for the humyn and civil rights of all prisoners. This is why I will be helping to amplify the voices of the wimmin in Texas prisons. With free world #MeToo exposures many times the victims were harassed, threatened, ostracized or punished! Look at what is happening with President Trump and Stormy Daniels! If that’s what happens out in the free world, just imagine the retaliation our incarcerated sisters are risking by speaking up. So it is our responsibility to support them and have their backs when they do!!
If the stories I just told got your attention, just wait until our incarcerated sisters in Texas start to tell you their stories! Y’all gon learn today!
Dare to struggle, dare to win! All power to the people!
Keith ‘Malik’ Washington is a humyn rights activist currently incarcerated in Texas. He is a co-founder and chief spokespersyn for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement. Malik is a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) and he is the Deputy Chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter). Malik is part of the movement to abolish legalized slavery in Amerika and is active in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign. You can view his work at comrademalik.com or write him directly at:
Keith ‘Comrade Malik’ Washington
Lovelady, Texas 75851