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My name is Clayton McGuire for about 8 years straight in solitary confinement on my third trip to prison. I am an ex gang member that was confirmed this many years ago being immediately into confinement. Never had any type of violent disciplinary cases or nothing close it was strictly on the basis of a confirmed member. Texas is still way behind the times but after building a great many prisons with a huge building on each one specificly for solitary confinement they utilize them however possible. So the first two trips were not eventful or even worth speaking about just going through the motions. Now this round had some rough spots with points of interest. Entering into the system with a five year sentence I arrived at the Holiday unit in Huntsville Texas. Went through the process of intake with medical questions then more questions and put into isolation directly afterward. This was not my cell but holding separated from all. After sitting in a dark concrete box for three hours the gang intelligence comes asking if I’d like to go through a Diversion program to get out of isolation permanently in a matter of months. Well of course I would. All went normal for the next 30 days of isolation waiting to go to this Ellis unit many programs are done. I leave exactly on that 30th night to a unit only minutes away. Arrived going through the intake process and again put into isolation for the first 30 days they said to get used to the unit. Whatever my time was rolling. There was a small DVD screen in the cell mounted on the wall I was given earbuds at this time. So short videos were being shown and paperwork given out to answer questions. The cells were so small when I stood up reaching my arms out on each side the walls could easily be touched. No air conditioning just vents to circulate air. The shower was all the way to the left end of the hallway running in front of our cells. You are handcuffed from behind to walk anyway no exceptions. Everything went very smoothly up until the last month of this short program and got to where I had a cellmate, could go outside for recreation on the recyard, watch TV in the dayroom and walk anywhere no handcuffs. During the last month an altercation between me and another inmate then staff attempting to intervene lead to multiple disciplinary cases. That evening I was taken to solitary confinement in handcuffs along with my property. Informed my program was terminated and I’m going back to normal segregation at another unit. Ten days later I arrived in Gatesville Texas at the Hughes unit which was odd because that is where I lived at the time of my arrest. Again into isolation. Easy time considering it was prison. About a year later they began making it into a mental health program. An emergency major transfer took place with the unit shutting down and buses lined up for inmates. I was not on the transfer list period so was not sure what was going to happen. In the next three days most of 5 wings out of 6 were shipped elsewhere. Immediately televisions were put into the dayrooms down the hall. I was moved to the disciplinary wing along with other gang members who stayed there. Three sections were confirmed members of multiple groups the other three disciplinary. Things went well. They put in security cameras because at that time there were none. My last two years in prison went smooth but poor choices struck again with being getting involved in contraband to hustle that honestly was not a reason I was making commisary. I also made parole about this time out of the blue. Two weeks later my good luck ran out getting legal action against me. An officer got caught bringing in items for another person so in attempts to save himself he gave all information up including my name. They also took his phone out of his truck finding text messages between us on it. The officer and I were on a semi personal level because I’d known him out in the freeworld. So moving along after the smoke cleared I had ten more years onto my time. Parole was lost of course and I was sent to Coffield unit. This was one of the few units that actually still had a family wing all gang members of only Z organizations. One of them I was still part of at this time. I already knew many of the guys from throughout my travels in TDCJ solitary confinement at this time called administrative segregation. Prisons always seem to attempt a name that sounds professional even if misleading. Now over a short period of living around members I make the decision to no longer be a part of this whole scene so speak to who needs to be spoken to and am moved off this wing. Was not an easy decision but my mind was set. After another year of being there a major legal action was won against TDCJ for airconditioning on units that had none. It was so hot in the summer of 2018 they started allowing us two fans and passing out icewater regularly. These micro cells got so hot I could lay there with two fans on high stacked up on books so they were even with my body and sweat was rolling off me like a light rain was coming down. The cell fronts had sheets of stainless steel covering the bars with holes in it the size of nickels for what flow you could get. Was not pleasant. That year many things transpired quickly. The mental health issue started getting a great deal of attention after a large number of inmates there hung themselves to death. Cut themselves open in various places at times as well. The lockers were in the air above your door frame so ideal for this. Got so bad the lockers were actually removed there. Next the unit put black mesh over the windows and roof lowering the heat to a point that TDCJ fought a bit having the decision for air conditioning changed. This was specificly to save money and not surprising at all. I had also started taking mental health meds myself at this time for a few reasons that were probably due to being in small cells for so long because all the years before that point there were zero problems. In the winter of 2018 one night they came telling me to pack up I was being transferred. Did not mind being there except the cells were extremely small with big holes in the back walls. Common thing. You are not told where just your moving. So I did all the way to the Oklahoma border to arrive at the Allred unit. Once I got there before anything a committee was ran telling me I was moved here specificly for the airconditioning due to mental health meds. Was put into a nice sized cell and thought how super clean the place was, fresh paint it was like night and day from the last place. Recreating and showers were ran everyday no doubt about it. A routine was quickly established because it was well ran at this time. The only downside was the distance from my family. Time flew by with no problems at all. At the end of 2019 the same scenario of being told I was being moved again and was kind of let down because a good daily routine makes a huge difference in a persons frame of mind but transferrs are not optional. I pack up and leave the next morning going to Huntsville Walls unit. I get there to wait overnight and am told I’ll be going to the Michaels Unit. Thought this was weird since there was only a mental health program and I have never signed up for such but would see about the cancel upon arrival. Had been at the same unit in 2006 and it was well ran and clean. So I get there with another guy from Allred. Once I reach my cell its obvious the staff has went down the drain and it was the filthiest unit in all my years of prison. No matter how many roaches you killed more showed up not long after. Mice were pretty much the same. Spoke to a mental health clinician and was told I could sign a refusal but it could take up to 6 months to go back to my unit. I signed the refusal. The first night there was a heavy rain storm and my neighbor knocked on the wall telling me most cells leak very badly so a few minutes later this became fact to a point the water outside ran onto my window to the place the seal was suppose to be into my cell down my wall to the floor steadily for the next hour. Thought wow this is wild! Next day was recreation after the great flood. My neighbor an older fellow was first up. When I walked to the door to check the scene out he was sitting on the table in our day room talking to himself pretty strongly. You run into these people throughout segregation learning most are long time isolation residents for whatever reason. Some beat on doors for hours with cups, scream nonsense, throw bodily fluids, wrestle their mattress inside their cells or whatever strikes them at the moment.

The issue of sitting in a cell with no reading material, very little human contact or outlets to express themselves cause some type of disconnect happens. Its diffrent on all cases on many levels as well. Humans by nature are social creatures from everything you read. Not long after they put my neighbor up was the next in line a guy who had his dread locks cut off and tied them to some clothe to wrap around his head like a wig. It was an odd sight but after hearing him speak he was 17 years in isolation from what was later revealed as protective custody at the beginning. That was the only two recreations ran after the staff left both in our dayroom for about 4 hours each. No showers were ran. Later its apparent this is a normal thing there. Staff truly could care less. Then this Covid virus took the world like a tornado. No transferrs no nothing. My wait time for transfer after two years turned into Michaels being my assigned unit. Chaotic nonsense seemed to be the normal there so I immersed myself myself in books, letter writing, and Bible studies. Anything positive to pass time inside my cell. There was no real mental health program in truth it looked good on paper making it seem like Texas was addressing an issue that alot of it was their fault. Sure these little classes were held every once in awhile making a show of it that was all, but inmates were put right back into isolation continueing the abuse to the mind. Brings to mind not to many years back there was a big legal action against TDCJ pertaining to Administrative Segregation and the only result was the name changed to Restrictive Housing. Not a surprise at all. Anyhow after some time I am moved to another pod since there was huge holes in my walls and the new captain moved 6 of us at once for this specificly. My property is moved by staff then I was asked if I would willingly move or would it be by force. Was not concerned about moving so the move was done. It was actually for the better in the environment, slightly. In the next 10 months or so the suicides of or death by overdose increase and they actually stop giving out shaving razors. None of these things make a positive impact. The plumbers came to work on my neighbors toilet for some reason. It was an older white guy who had been locked up about 40 years doing a great deal of it in isolation. He was a very serious cutter and regular resident at the Skyview mental hospital. So the problem with the toilet was addressed I guess but the next day I noticed water barely coming into my cell increasing over a short time. Asked my neighbor if he had the problem saying he just got up and his cell is flooded. My whole cell flooded that day onto the run out of two cells making its way slowly further down to other cells all the way to the next section after flooding each cell out. This became the life for 5 months straight. The old man to my right went to the dayroom and an hour later had two massive cuts tracking blood as he went. He had a piece of plastic and while he stood talking to someone down the run he told them “excuse me I have to stick this blade in my ass” walking over by the toilet dropping his shorts doing so. Thought he was just saying this until the guy he was speaking to witnesses him putting it in the plastic and inserting it. Won’t ever forget his nickname was Con and this was how he lived. Not long after he was gone to Skyview. This was behind the water in cells. My family called the OMSBUDMAN and a guy in the freeworld clothes asking my name and number. I gave him this saying my family called his director so he was coming to document the problem. He had already verified all the grievances I’d filed on this leak. He pulled out a camera taking pictures of my cell and both neighbors cells, then left. About an hour later the head plumber magically shows up with two helpers. Works around the pipechase saying its fixed the water will dry up soon. Now it does not. A neighbor upstairs had some legal work going on and him along with 4 others are moved or rather switched out with others from another pod. My neighbor was an older black man by the name of Budd who had 20 years solid in isolation for whatever reason. Pretty good neighbor, very quiet and respectful. After living next to him all that time one morning he throws all his clothes, sheets, blanket and personal property out. Everything. Same day he starts refusing all meals period giving them to me until I catch on after going to the shower coming back seeing all his stuff laying in front of his cell. I ask him whats up and he says he’s being transferred. Was confusing but shrugged it off going about my business. He did go to Skyview not long after naked and handcuffed. Now this incident is actually what got the leak fixed after the mental health lady got the building Major and captain to the old mans door trying to speak to him. They looked in the cells and a few minutes after the old man left about 6 plumbers showed up. They vacuumed the water out immediately spotting this leak. Tiny leak but steady. It is finally fixed with water eventually drying up. Took me two days to scrub mildew and mold that was underwater off my walls. Time moves on, more deaths occur there pretty often. What brought the breaking point on the unit was a murder were the inmate either flipped out on drugs or whatever the cause stomping his cell mates head into the point brains start flying out. I went to visit the next day and my family said they saw the death on the TDCJ website. Not long after this transpired one day about 15 officers are going section to section saying everyone on our whole building is going to be transferred elsewhere. The majority did with a few left behind. The make believe mental health program at that unit was being made back into Restrictive housing. The following Monday I leave coming all the way to Allred unit thankfully. Now there is only one pod classified as Chronicly Mentally ILL. How they fabricate this for everyone is a mystery. Many have seen classification committee and are being sent to programs. I have awhile to wait until I go to a program myself for general population. Thank you for letting me share.

Allred Unit, Iowa Park, Texas

15 years in solitary / ad seg

Clayton

MCGUIRE

June 13, 2022

Words by CLAYTON MCGUIRE

Photography by TEXAS LETTERS​​

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CLAYTON MCGUIRE