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Ellis Unit, Huntsville, Texas

8 years in solitary / ad seg



May 22, 2023


Photography by TEXAS LETTERS​​



There was a time in my life when i was apart of the problem. Now, however, i have reached a point in my life that i have committed myself to being apart of the solutions.


Since th elast time i wrote you i had the opportunity to be released from long term solitary confinement, and have been placed at Ellis unit’s CITP(Cognitive Intervention Transition Program). i’ll tell you a little about my experience here as this letter resumes.


First i’ll begin by stating that i feel that it is the continued criminalization of people, excessive sentecing, wrongful convictiond, and inhumane conditions of confinement, that attribute to the genocidal nature of the criminal justice system.


Political prisoner, Joy Powell1 once said,  “Still shackled, still chained,” in order to illustrate what the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution spells out in it’s exception clause. These words and concepts behind them help illustrate the feelings i felt leaving the infamously repressive James V. Allred unit November 2022. i was escorted in a van with blacked out windows, alone, with two armed guards inside the vehicle, along with two unmarked Dodge Chargers with two armed guards each following us from Iowa Park, in North Texas, all the way to Huntsville, in southeast Texas. i watched wondering why i was being escorted under such scruitny. i had already been forced to leave all my personal property behind me. i was made to wear contaminated orange shower slides, a dirty one piece organge jumper, and was shackled wrist to waist.


Hours later i finally arrived at the O.B. Ellis Unit to my utter suprise. i was purposely misinformed as to where i was destined to go. i was met at the reception area by an officer who worked in the program. i was asked whether or not i was willing to participate in the program. i had no idea what the particulars of the program were, so i answered that i was unsure. Upon my answer i was placed in J23 lock up for about four days until i decided i would participate. As i sat in lock up i reflected on the things i had read concerning the O.B. Ellis unit and it’s namesake, how it was built by inmate forced labor, how Black Panther captive Johnny Swift had been assinated while housed on death row, although he wasn’t a death row prisoner. Swift had been influencial in organizing captives in resistance to the violent building tender system and forced inmate labor in the fields which led to the largest protest by incarcerated people in Texas history.


Having none of my belongins, i was forced to listen to the many individuals as they had loud outbursts, hollering how they had encountered ‘spirits’ most of us felt these were the spirits of Death row and other captives that had been there before us. i couldn’t wait to get out of that lock down cell! so i went to UCC and was allowed to enter the programs housing unit.


My first few days were normalized enough. i solenmly observed the aspects of the ‘ new building tender system’ that operated here at ellis. The unit is ran by groups of inmates who cater favor with officers by intimidation, violence, informing against the masses of captives. These inmates act with unoffical impunity, and this is one of the first things i and others notice about Ellis unit and  particular it’s CTTP program.


The next thing i noticed and was honestly very discouraged by was the magnitude to which k2 and other illicit substances have taken control and warped the minds and behavior patterns of the captive population One can easily observe the devastating effects of drug epidemics on oppressed people, those who would be better served utilizing their time towards the liberation of themselves and kind, are instead walking zombies who every waking moment is geared towards either obtaining their substance of choice, or providing it. i observed, disappointed, felling let down, after having fought so hard with many others to be released from solitary, only to see the conditions in the general population, was sobering to say the least.

Approaching this program i viewed it as a way to practice propagating social and political ideas to the other captives, i spend a good amount of time speculating the best ways to do that.


In the meantime, one major barrier in my life was the absence of my property. i wrote grievances to locate my property, and ultimately waited a total of 16 weeks before i received my personal belongings. This is despite the fact that TDCJ policy asserts that property shall be shiipped to one’s next unit from the last unit in 21 days. i have watched and assisted in many other inmates grievances on this same issue, along with the misplacing of personal property, particularly from Allred, Hughes, McConnell, Michaels, Ferguson units. In most cases officers were negligent in the fact that they didnt fill out inventory papers, which means many of these people won’t be able to redeem their  belongings.


The other things that are readily visible are the lack of maintenance, particularly the lack of pest control in the cells, and moreso, the varmin infestation in the chow hall. Rats have colonized the scullery and the serving line. so much so that the scullery can’t be utilized. i reported this stuff to unit staff, including wardens, and other staff, to no avail. i subsequently reported this issue, and others to state representative Carl Sherman, who had his office contact the facility here, however they were given the run around. 


Next i noticed how a shortage and incompetence of medical staff leads to serious and in some cases nearly fatal consequences. There is no 24 hour medical service here( As well as other units in Texas) therefore if, in the event a person has a medical emergency at the wrong time they is no on sight medical professionals to assist them. Diabetics, those who have seizures, and anyone who has a serious or chronic illness is constantly placed at a life threatening disadvantge. i mentioned to Mr. Sherman that there should be a budget increase and pay raise for medical personel in correctional facilities. i’ve watche dtwo people nearly die due to delays in care since i’ve been here.


i waited two months to actually begin the academic portion of the program. There are lessons to be had from the curriculum. The two issues that arise is that individuals have to take theclasses seriously in order for them to grasp anything of value from it, and sadly this doesn’t happen enough. the other issue is that there isn’t enough class time, or enough spaces to be proactive, and discuss valuable topics. Therefore i saw that this void had to be filled by  captives ourselves, after i had petitioned the administration and forwarded them a copy of a self-created curriculum, as a suggestion  to what we could be doing with the free time to work towards the improvements of the prisoner population. These efforts have all been ignored.


When i first arrived i was on the psych department’s caseload, having been diagnosed with ‘solitary trasition syndrome’, symptoms included anxiety, depression, and violent mood swings. i refused to take medications due to my own personal bias to the contrary. i was therefore removed from the psych caseload against my will. Since i’ve been here these symptoms have continued to effects my days in various ways. The most visible has been the violent mood swings, which usually arise as a result of the hardtime i have with controlling strong passions and emotions, particularly when they’re  instantaneous. 


These symptoms have placed my ability to complete the program in jeporady, as i am currently in temporary solitary, literally three days prior to my completion and graduation of the program. i share this with you because i would like anyone who has the chance to read this to take the psychological effects of long term isolation very seriously. These things don’t simply disappear once one is no longer isolated.


On a lighter note, myself and others have had the opportunity to establish, and see progress through our own autonomous institution called, A.I.M.(Authentic In Manhood, Masculinity and Maturity). As a facilitator of this Serve the People Program, i have been able to counsel my peers in aspects of life such as financial literacy, mental health awarness, healthy relationships, the importance of community service( in prison and beyond), anti-drug use, and also conduct a series of seminars’ Political Education 101’, this has been one of my favorite experiences thus far in the six months since i’ve been among people again.


Beyond this i’ve been busy litigating the civil action, Owolabi V. TDCJ ALLRED UNIT, as well as establishing outside infrastructure &  networking infrastructure to forward the Movement for self determination, as well as my own individual freedom campaign. 


    People who wish to connect with me and add on can contact the  head coordinator of my freedom campaign at:


        PO BOX 720597

        Houston, Tx 77272


    Or follow on social media @ freemonsour owolabi; as well as the freemonsour website currently under construction. Thanks for your time, Dare To Invent The Future!


Monsour Owolabi is a New Afrikan political prisoner active in both the Texas prison system and the outside community. He is now 31(October 3 1991), he’s a mentor, educator, writer, and a son. He is the co-founder of the Texas prisoner’s organization Texas Team One, and also organizes with Prison Lives Matter. He has advocated for the Self-determination of New Afrikans and other oppressed nations and people, the ending of genocide, human rights for captive people, an ending to life without parole and death sentencing(genocidal practices), political censorship, and the social and political education of inner-city populations.. Free All Political Prisoners. 


Sources: (1) Reverend Joy Powell is a wrongfully convicted political prisoner in New York state who was retaliated on by  Pochester Police after being an advocate of non-violence in the community and an outspoken critic of RPD’s police terrorism. She is currently serving a 25 years to life sentence in New York.


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