top of page

Ferguson Unit, Midway, Texas

8 years in solitary / ad seg


January 5, 2024


Photography by TEXAS LETTERS


    It’s been awhile , about two months or so now. i find myself re-assigned to longterm solitary confinement, TDCJ’s so-called restrictive housing. i have been reflecting, and collecting my thoughts, analyzing both the general and particular circumstances, contradictions, and nuances that have led me to this point.


I’ve been reporting to you and others regarding the consistent unprovoked aggravated assaults against captive people at the hands of guards here, in solitary, again.

i say ‘largely’ because each action and reaction sequence possesses both objective and subjective qualities or conditions. The subjective, of course, is both my personal way of interalizing these actions, as well as ‘ the personal’ psycho-social attitudes of the criminals( guards) who continuously perpetuate such actions. It must be understood as well that the personal is political and the political is personal. These actions, the perpetrators, the victims, the lack of, or minimal response, and finally the environment(s) in which these ordeals occur, are socio-political expression of low-intensity domestic warfare.


Extreme right? i know that’s the first thought most will think after reading the above assertion, but no its not extreme at all, and that’s exactly what i’ve been analyzing.


i’ve come to the realization that most of our efforts and analysis at reform and abolition, at educating the public on the struggles and existence of political prisoneers and prisoners of war( domestic), have not gone far enough. i believe this is precisely because our whole outlook on the prison industrial slave complex is inadequate. Very simply, prison historically and in the contemporary times an institution of war. In each prison what stands is a manifestation of consolidated setteler empire’s hegemony and state power.


the rise and usage of prisons are synonymous with the fortresses on the slave ports of west Africa; with the genocide aginst Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island ( north america); with the subsequent rise of capitalism; with the strategic use of the prison following Reconstruction; Synonomous with war against Mexicans and Xicanos in the west and south west after the treaty of Guadalupe Hildago; synonymous with world wide white supremacy and patriarchy. In essence, every prison in America is connected to a war effort that begun in the 16th and 17th centuries. A war effort whose gaol was the creation of the settler-colonial nation-state(empire?) called America. The continuation of America and Americanism is subsequently continuation of this sam war effort that expresses itself in domestic and global class and ethno-national war.


One of the key features of this war is its lopsidedness. It’s nearly a one sided affair, as imperialist wars tend to be. And the prison institution wherever prisons are found, are essential in perpetuating the one sided war effort and in fact prisons exist for that very reason.


The empire, from its inception, has always sought to hold hegemony over the use and perception of military engagement( or violence more generally), politics. The institutional tools put in place to create, and maintain this monopoly or hegemony are prisons, police/ military, and law/ judicial system.


Throughout time, especially in the mid twenith century, btaltant counter-insurgency methods were utilized against general and specific prison populations( political prisoners and prisoners of domestic war were often utilized as guinea pigs for the state to test methods of behavior modifaction, mind control, and general counter-insurgency tactics)


These tactics today have been generalized and incorporated into not only prions but general domestic and global military engagements, as the military industrial complex and prison industrial slave complex, intertwine and parasites share tactics, and strategies with the express purpose of domination(war).( see; Cop City)


The only hiccup in this ordeal is that repression breeds resistance, wherever it exists. Therefore, prisons, police/ military, judicial systems become sites of resistance, or as the author Dr. Orisanmi Burton says, “ counter-war, a term that reflects that captive rebels [ are] responding to an antagonism they did not initiate.”


To prevent this from being read and recieved as hyperbole, you must break the term ‘war’ down to its most fundamental conception. Carl Von Clausewitz did exactly that in his widely read text, On War. In the text he defined war as, “ an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will”. He furthermore compare war to an extensive dual between two wrestlers, each striving by physical force to compel the other to submit to his will, “ to render the adversary incapable of further resistance.”


Seeing things from this vantage point it becomes easier to conclude that prisons are institutions of war, sites where daily, violence is unleashed on captive residents who in turn resist in any number of ways. Resistance merely for the sake of resistance, resistance against the possibility of becoming a docile zoo-animal, a slave of the state broken, but to unknowing eyes seemingly content with your lot in life. This is the resistance that has me back in solitary confinement, the highest form of counter insurgency available for prisoncrats to utilize against those who’re unbowed by the thought threat of physical violence, and who( as in my case and many others) have been buried alive with astronomical amounts of time to where there’s nothing to lose or hope for, no incentives for good deeds or character other than those internal to the individual.


Allow me space and time to recollect some events that led up to November 16, 2023, my reassignment to solitary confinement.


    This last time i contacted you i was explaining some of the things i encountered upon my arrival here at ferguson unit. i’ll repeat somehere while also expandig on those recollections. 


i arrived here at ferguson on July 17th, 2023. Upon arrival i was vetted by tanking officers, and forewarned that ‘ Here at ferguson we do our own thing’, and tha i should not come over here with any of the things i was doing previously( organizing). It took over a month to receive sheets, over a week for a mattress,,,,, and i was made aware within two weeks of my arrival how constitutional protected actions such as filing grievances could and would be retaliated against here at ferguson. When i first arrived i was assigned to G5 custody. i believe this set me up for failure, and was undue and excessiv punishment in light of the entirity of the circumstances that found me at ferguson.


Lte me go backwards a little. i had a fight with another prisoner while in class in the CITP program. As a result i was dismissed from the program and sent to ferguson unit. The fight was my first and only case in 5 ½ years. As such, i shiuld’ve been assigned to G4 custody not G5. Once i arrived on the G5 block, the administrtion would not allow me to get comfortable. i was moved from cell to cell each week. Why? you may ask.


The cell shuffle began in response to my filing a grievance regarding the behavior of then asst. warden J. Carter. In August of 2023 Carter presided over a special classification review i attended. This review was called due in part because their were too many G5 classified people for the unit to hold. Therefore Carter was reviewing certain cases which had either done a majority of their G5 time, or were in said custody for frivolous things. i fit in under the latter. Also, i had put in and receivied permission for a special review to officially remove a security precaution designator that has been in my file over ten years. i went before the review committee and Carter overstepped her autority by denying the removal of said SPD. How? How can a warden over step authorization? There are two policies that govern the placement and removal of SPD’s. These policies are Administrative Directive 04.11, and the TDCJ Classification Plan. AD 04.11 states that after 10 years a staff assault(SA) SPD shall be removed, except in ‘extraordinary circumstance’ The policy states furt5her that extraordinary circumstance is when the (SA) resulted in the death of the officer. This means as long as the officer wasn’t killed during the incident  the SPD shall be removed in 10years. The term ‘shall’ in legal terminology is a definite term, meaning it ‘will’ be done, it leaves no room for variation.


Furthermore, the classification plan sets aside a specific decision making body for the removal of SPD’s. This body is the Security Percaution Designator Removal Committee(SPDRC). This SPDRC consists of the regional director, state classification committee personnel, and a unit warden.


Lookin at these facts together, showcase that the UCC had no authority to even rule on my SPD matter, furthermore, J. Carter didn’t allow the other peopoe present to render their own decisions but instead forced her own will over the proceedings. i was subsequently remained G5, and remained (SA) SPD.


As a result i filed a grievance in a timely matter, on August 16th, 2023. After which time i began getting moved each week. This only slowed down once the entire state was placed on lockdown.


While awaiting the reply to my grievance that did not come until six months later(step 1), i had a serious struggle on my hands. i am allergic to strawberries, and artifical strawberry flavors. During the lockdown, and during the summer mnths of 2023, TDCJ began serving strawberry jelly on our PBJ sandwiches and meat free substitute trays. Most officers refused to informally resolve this situation. contacting kitchen staff garnered the response that it was not strawberry jelly, but old grape jelly, as if serving thousands of people old discolored food is more acceptable. 


    Many days in the heat of the Hottest summer on record i went hungry rather than risk severe allergic reaction. filing grievances garnered a similar response from the kitchen, that TDCJ does not serve strawberry. However, the kitchen took itupon them selves to make a special tag for my tray stating that i was allergic to strawberries. This is a common practice in which TDCJ officals will give fabricated offical replies to grievances in order to cover themselves from possible court action, but they’ll quietly take measures to aliviate the issue, in order to moot one’s arguement. It took over three months to semi-fix this issue. In the mean time i was not provided proper nutrition or calories as a result of a failure to provide basic care.


From August until Novemebr, the time i was on G5 i witnessed about five people get unnecessarily assaulted by staff. i saw one officer get ‘ assaulted’ by an inmate, and this was an act of throwing cold watter in the officer’s face, in contrast to four or five officers jumping on handcuffed people.


Because of the substandard duty performance of Securus staff i did not have tablet access during this time, making reporting these incidents difficult. However, i did write reporting these incidents to people in the press, seeking assistance  . These reports did nothing, and no assistance came.


Once during the summer months one man requested respite from the heat, which is required for all captives upon request in accordance with policy. On ferguson however, respite doesn’t exist for G5 or ad-seg prisoners. Therefore this guy’s request was not met. Subsequently he feigned fainting. This garnered a response, initiating an ICS, wherein a handheld camera is utilized by staff and ranking staff arrive on the scene. In this incident once the rank came and began escorting the guy to medical, after removing him from the cell, they noticed he suddenly seemed moreorless normal. Noticing that he had feigned an ailment to receive respite, they immediately forced him to turn and return to his cell, ad before placing him in the cell, the sargent slapped the prisoner.

Another incident i previouslt explained with the beating of Skylar Gribbles and Jorge Cerna, where the two of them were severely beaten without cause, and in the case of Gribbles was disappeared to solitary confinement.

In these and other cases not only did i attempt outside assistance from the press, but i assisted these men in filing, or attempting to file grievances in furtherance of future civil actions. However, our grievance efforts were circumvented by unit grievance investigator D. Turner. She refuses, contrary to TDCJ Grievance Manual, and A.D. 03.82,, to allow victims of assaults by officers or groups of officers, to file grievances regarding the matter. This denies access to courts. However, if anyone behind the walls also runs into this or similar issue, i suggest youwrite the respective court you are to file in. Send the clerk a letter stating your intention to file suit in said court and the named grievance you wrote and if applicable anyi-60 or note from grievance staff explaining their denial of the grievance. Usually the clerk will contact the unit and the seriousness of this violation is explained, which usually gerts the UGI in line. Or, the court will declare that you have sufficiently attempted to resolve the issue using administrative remedies.


Well, the beating, the denial of human decency continued from the summer and into the fall of 2023. We had one success in that time. When i arrived We did not receive recreation regulartly. Once in 90days. About ten of us submitted grievances and were answered with our requests being met. We were provided minimal rec, once to twice a week.


One Novemeber 16th, 2023 it was supposed to be a relatively good day. Two outside visitors were set to come to the unit, and people were looking forward to this as well as the turkey-day trays coming soon, this produced a relatively good mood. 


A popular ex-prisoner, whose really dedicated to the reform movement of Texas prisons, visited the G5 building, being escorted by ranking staff and taking to prisoners. Also present were the CIT, or Cell inspection Team. while the visitor walked and talked on a particular tier, the CIT walked and harassed prisoners on another tier. In my opinion this entire show of force, at the specific time it was acted out was to spoil the effects of the visit. As soon as the brother left the wing, one cell was opened unannounced, and its occupants were told to strip out and cuff up. One of them had been sleep and after asking why he was told to strop and submit to restraints, he was punched closed fist in his face by CIT. Gates. The force of the punch sent him to the back wall of the cell and made him hit his head on the concrete wall. Sgt. Vasquez joined in and slammed the guy’s head against the wall untill he fell, and then he continued  to kick him and bang his head against the concrete floor, causing blood and injury. As this occurred and prisoners witnessed it while stuck in their cells began to verbally protest the beating, yelling for the group of about five officers to stop. This didn’t work, and only multiplied their brutality. The gang dragged the man out of the cell, he at no time attampted to resist or defend himself, nor trade blows with his attackers. Once dragged to the middle of the tier he was further kicked in his face by Sgt. Vasquez, and Lt. Evans One of them then stepped on and stood on his face/ head. The reader should know that the victim was about 5 foot 3 inches tall, a little of one hundred pounds, while Evans and Vasquez are each well over six feet and approaching 300 pounds.


It is around this time that i, while on the third and top tier and the incident happening on the first tier, began to hear the protests of others over the noise in my headphones. i got up to hear what was occiring and began throwing projectiles at the attackers. Like cowards tend to do, as soon as they were me with the slightest counter-force they backed away. The victim was cuffed and escorted to solitary confinement( pre-hearing detention.)


Minutes later the same group arrived at my cell commanding me to submit to restraints. i refused, wishing to have my hands free to put up a fight instead of being beated so easily, handicapped. The sargent Hiembuck began to broker a deal with me that all the group would have to leave from in front of my cell except him, if i was to cuff up. i went with this reluctantly. i was placed inside a holding cell while officers removed all of my property from the cell and brought it to the GP office.  i, After more slight confrontation between myself and Hiembuck iwas escorted to solitary confinement(prehearing detention) two doors down from the initial victim, whom up until that point was unknown to me.


While i went through what had become routine, trying to file the proper forms to insure a victim of guard terror was provided medical care, and that accountability was rendered to his attackers, i learned that this peer of mine suffered from mental disorders, and intelllectual disabilities, thus maximizing the effects of his attack. He was denied initial medical care, and was charged with  assaulting officers he never touched nor attempted to touch but had closed his eyes, possibly gave him a concussion, damaged his teeth, and caused numerous bruises and laceations to his face and skull, and damage to the ribs. It took only days for the psychological effects of solitary confinement, exasperated by the effects of the torture he endured by the guards, to push this man over the edge and into attempting suicide by swallowing razors and extensively cutting himself. After he was gassed in response to that attempt i have not seen him again. He had months to go home.


As a result of my slight protest i was found guilty of trumped  up charges of assault on staff with a weapon. senior warden and ucc informed me of their recommendation to SCC to place me in restrictive housing due to my history of assaultive behavior towards staff( i had no such case in 6years) and supposed uptick in antagonisms between guards and incarcerated people and an supposed influence or possible influence of this antagonism.


    The officers were never held accountable for their aggravated assault and battery of that young man. The senior warden Weeten ignored my reports and other witness reports to him about the culture of terror and unnecessary assaults against staff by these same officers. i was sent to RH without the requisite committee’s or notification from SCC. i have not been seen by any committee, either the 30 day level review, or RHC whoxa has authority to remove me from ad-seg. i have not been seen by SCC pursuant to their policy to provide a 60 day review. My attempt to appeal my classification to ad-seg was refused. Meaning i was not even allowed to challenge my placement in ad-seg solitary confinement. This spits in the face of human rights standards and treaties, namely numerous Articles of the International Covenant of Civil and Political rights. Humans have a right to be free from arbitrary confinement and torture( solitary confinement  is torture by international standards), citizens of the world have the right be treated with human decency while imprisoned. These human rights violations in this imediate incident is only a few that are in a chain of continuous disregard for human rights and international treaties that the u.s. government is party to, which make up the normal prison operation.


This normalized violation and suppression of human rights and recognition of treaty obligations in regards to u.s. Prisoners begins to touch on what is meant about the prison being a site of war, specifically war to either continue or discontinue ( depending on which side you’re on) the colonization and hegemony of the empire.


u.s. prisons are sites where the captive is denied the right to self determination provided by the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights as we;; as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (Article 1 of ICCPR)


We are denied our right to freely determine our political status and freely pursue economic, social and cultural development. 


These rights are denied in violation of Article 2 of the ICCPR, and it’s clause reggarding discrimination in the application of the articles. u.s. Prisoners are a class in themselves and aren’t to be discriminated against on account of that class status.


Articles 6, 7, and 8 assert that everyone has the inherent right to life, and that right should be protected by law, and no one should arbitrarily deprived  of their life., No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular no one shall be subjected without consent his medical or scientific experimentation.. And eight, asserts that no one shall be held in slavery servitude.


Common occurrances within u.s. prisons clearly violate these rights. The death penalty is in violation of human rights, particularly when subjects of american govrnance are not human in the common sense but persons are in the legal sense de-personalized corporations. A ‘person’ in the courts is a corporation, this  makes the jurisdiction of the various u.s. courts arbitary, held in place only by force and ignorance. Each state sanctioned murder, regardless the guilt or innocence of the person in question, is arbitary lose of life.


  The sentence of life without parole, which i myself am sentenced to, is also in violation of Article 7, an inhuman, and cruel punishment. i don’t have the space to expound on the numerous instances of medical and scientific experimentation of prisoners. i only suggest the reader read the book, Tip of the Spear, by Orisanmi Burton.


It has become common knowledge that the u.s. constitution’s 13th amendment violates various human rights treaties and i need not expound on that here.


Article 12 speaks to freedom of movement within a state. The ex-prisoner upon release faces laws and ordinaces to prevent them from living in certain places. In violation of this human rights standard bearer. 


    Due to the overwhelming and continued violations of human rights provisions within the Texas and u.s.prison systems, We need to begin to reevaluate and change the narrative(s) that motivate organizing arouns prisons and jails. i feel as though the ideas surrounding 13th Amendment and its abolition have become victim to Elite Capture or cooptation by relative elites within movement spaces. The system has invented ways to deliver the abolition of prison slavery while maintaining mass targeted incarceration of oppressed nations and people and classes. Therefore, from the vantage point of the movement, the abolition of the 13th Amendment, really no longer e servers its intended purpose. COlorado, is one of a few states that have banned or aboli abolished sl;avery exception clauses within its state constitution. These measures did nothing to curb the daily injustices and abuses within the prison. Why? Because these abuses and injustices are inherent to the prison institution itself.


On the other hand, there is no reformist twist that the system can put on the analysis of war through the institution of prisons. How can that be captured by elites? It gets to the basis of various subsectors within the prison movement. It alludes to the reason for an experiences of poi political prisoners and prisoners of war, the continue censorship battles that prevent the elevation of the mind’s of the captive population, especially those most marginalized. It helps illustrate why so many human rights violations exist and continue unabi uninhibited. Most imporatnt of all to those most effected by the prison war, is the fact that refocusing our analysis and perspective on the role and function of the prison institution moves us towards a subsquebnt break and seperate development from the enemy state’s institutions. This is necessary for those who’ve found themselves under the boot of domination for so long. It in  is necessary to began to pstchologically spit in the face of the so called official institutions of the state. To question their legitimacy, to question their ability to serve any productive role in your live or the lives of oppressed people. This readjustment of perspective is prerequisite to any mode of decolonization. We must come to accept that We are our own liberators, our own protectors, our own defenders and our own avengers. Those in the freeworld can really assist those inside doing the work. Contact Prison Lives Matter on social media or through the website,, and see how you can actively assist those in your region who are committed to radical transformation from the ground up. Thanks for taking the time to read these humble words and caring about what takes place behind the walls. You can always do more.


            Free Monsour G. Owolabi



bottom of page