Believe it or not but I was born on Texas death row.I had a life once.Filled with laughter.Loving family and supportive friends(the majority are now dead).I was a protective dad.I had my own home,I had cars, I paid bills :my favorite meal was ‘gumbos’(my deceased grandmother made the best ever, thou my aunt Patsy was a close second with her okra-seafood gumbo).Of course I’m not saying my life was kosher.I am saying I did have a life worth living and I was not always ‘existing’ in some mold infested, and off-colored cell,entomb on Texas death row.
Life’s daily events unfold like a budding conundrum every mili-second of every day.It’s a complex eco system of mental nuts and bolts and screws that cohort as one to maintain a daily functionality which is why every human being to ever exist in this world will atleast say once or more about life’s unfolding events,”I didn’t see that coming!”
When I was falsely convicted of Capital Murder by corrupted cops and prosecutors (note:I have never been a he-say/she-say playwriter,I encourage anyone who has a moral spinal cord,to view the documents my incredible investigator and advocate,Kimberley A.Carter,has found.She is one of,if not the best in the business.Go to :https://walkinthoseshoes.com/charles-mamou-a-call-for-justice/)who shattered my life into pieces forever never put back together again,I will never forget the “pitch” the ADA explained to the jury about how I would not be allowed to mingle with population inmates because a death row inmate could no longer be a part of any society,”sentencing Mamou to death is his sentence.He will not be on death row to be punished nor tortured.He will be there to die.”
I supposed TDCJ’s think-tank-machine and every Polunsky units’ administrators didn’t get the memo.
It wasn’t always such a draconian visual painting of Texas death row’s environment. The Ellis one unit was Texas original home to the male-death row.There the condemn could have jobs within the prison.Group recreation.Better humane access to medical care.Better food.TV’s and etc…
When we were all transported to the Polunsky unit in March of 2000,everything we had that offered us some activities at the Ellis unit was taken away at Polunsky.”I didn’t see that coming!”None of us did.And it was difficult for many to adjust, as suicides and attempted suicides sky-rocketed during those early years.No more work program,no group recreation, no TVs,no physical interactions with other human beings.And every year ‘something’ always seem to become prison policy that allowed the administration to take more from us;i.e., from certain books and reading material, photos, food, clothes…so much was and still is took until all we had/have was the occupation of a cell and the flesh of our bones.
And through they years when TDCJ’s Level One inmates-system wide-was gaven more autonomy and technological access to daily pay-phones,or movies and games;TDCJ and Polunsky administrators would “now” label death row inmates AG/SEG to prevent death row from gaining level one privileges that would allow us the same advancements.And when that label was challenged by lawyers and advocates aiding death row inmates,TDCJ relabeled us as Segregated Housed Inmates(SHI)to continue the denied access.These labels and efforts by TDCJ is in fact;punishment and tortuous tactics.
What irks me with uniformed people(be they inmates or freeworld people)who try to say population inmates in Segregated housing or other form of solitary confined settings for non-death row inmates,equally struggles just like any death row inmate housed in solitary confinement…
No they don’t.
There is no comparison.
And for anyone to nexus such comparisons is actually following TDCJ’s plan of distorting facts of law and penal policy.If I was a AG SEG or G4 or G5 solitary confined inmate then ‘my actions’(or suspicions of my actions in violations to prison rules)put me in that solitary situation within that prison,because those inmates housed is for the sole purpose of disciplinary actions to “punish” and to some degree torture the inmate in a attempt to correct that inmate from breaking or considering to break TDCJ and prison policy.But there will be a review for these inmates to see if they can get their Level One status back.There is laws being pushed now to limit exposure within solitary to 10 years,until its mandatory to be let up.There are safeguards in place to punish and reward inmates according to their behavior.But for a death row inmate,no matter how good they are.No matter the years,decades within solitary there is no evaluation.There is no laws in place to deal with a death row inmate.We can not establish productivity to show that we should be released from solitary confinement.We are stuck in this penal limbo to no end.I have spent 23 years in solitary confinement.To TDCJ and this administration I(along with my fellow death row inmates)am considered forgotten.Uncared for.They don’t give a fuck about us.
Death row inmates,that has 95% of the majority as Level One inmates are in solitary confinement not based on disciplinary actions,but rather malicious abuse of penal supervision which is a direct sign towards the dogma and hatred expressed towards death row inmates that is more systematic than personal.Because death row inmates are the most behaved branch of inmates in all of TDCJ.We do nothing,except sit in our fucking cells twenty-four hours a day most days, wasting away.They have now taken away our visitation days,making it nearly impossible for guys to continue to get visits from people who live a far distance or in other countries.They have taken away our daily showers,and we are lucky to get a shower once a week.Recreation is non-existing now.And this is the shit we go through.It’s hard time.And it’s ugly once you know the truth,behind the misinformation being put out there.This is Hell on earth,and the Devils is behind the inhumanity of it all.
written by:Charles “Chucky” Mamou/2023
Polunsky Unit, Livingston, Texas
23 years in solitary / ad seg
April 4, 2023
Words by CHARLES MAMOU
Photography by TEXAS LETTERS