by Jason Renard Walker

K2 aftermath

The number of K2-related deaths in Texas prisons is mounting, year after year. Due to this drug being undetectable by prison drug-testing kits, it has become a favorite drug of choice for prisoners and prison officials who profit handsomely from smuggling it in.

This has caused other common prison drugs, like cocaine, marijuana and meth, to be discarded by prisoners who now have the ability to get high without worrying about failing drug tests. Prison staff have also adjusted to this epidemic by abandoning random drug testing, only doing so if the testee is “fingered” by another prisoner or suspected of having a particular drug in his system. This ultimately increases the rate of positive hit results and allows TDCJ to save money by reducing the number of drug test kits it uses annually.

From my experience, victims of K2 overdose experience heavy sweating, heart attack and panic attack-like symptoms before dropping dead. So it’s highly possible that K2-related deaths are being recorded as heart attacks and heat strokes. A full record of these deaths may not exist.

The number of K2-related deaths in Texas prisons is mounting, year after year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listed K2 as synthetic marijuana, which is a misnomer. It’s supposed to trigger the same receptors in the brain as THC – the component in marijuana that produces the high. But unlike THC, the chemical makeup of K2 is unique, and can cause hallucinations, seizures, heart attacks, aggressive behavior, and suicidal acts and behavior.

This is the same drug that made national headlines when, in the span of 24 hours, 70 people overdosed in New Haven, Connecticut.[i] And it’s not only killing prisoners in Texas, Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald exposed in her Aug. 21, 2018, story that the Florida Department of Corrections has issues with K2-related deaths.[ii] Prisons in Alabama and all over the nation are becoming infested with K2 and its issues.

In prison, K2 often contains traces of rat poison and roach spray, and doesn’t contain a single chemical makeup, so basically it can contain anything. Despite prisoners witnessing their friends die during smoke sessions, they keep getting high. And more often than not, they seek the particular K2 strain that killed them. “I gotta get some of that,” some say after learning of an overdose.

Dr. Tegan Boehmer of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health stated that dozens of chemicals are used as synthetic cannabinoids, and their unknown characteristics make them dangerous. “They are very dangerous because there are a lot of unknowns.” The CDC studies also suggest this drug is highly addictive.

In prison, K2 often contains traces of rat poison and roach spray, and doesn’t contain a single chemical makeup, so basically it can contain anything. Despite prisoners witnessing their friends die during smoke sessions, they keep getting high.

Blaskey’s Miami Herald report gave a peek into the perils of K2 use in prison. “Last year, at Franklin Correctional Institution, Eugene Martin fell forward suddenly out of bed, dead from K2. At Mayo Correctional Institution, Hakim Ramatoola had a seizure and died after smoking K2 described by others who participated as ‘the worst ever.’ Jarquez Jones died at Santa Rosa after smoking an unusual-looking black K2. Jamil Wright overdosed at Martin Correctional. Ruben Harris and Calvin Johnson at Holmes Correctional Institution. Jesse Johnson at Okaloosa Correctional Institution. All in the last half of 2017. And the list goes on.”

From Nov. 1, 2017, through to April 19, 2018, I was housed at the Ramsey Unit in Rosharon, Texas; Michael Unit in Tennessee Colony, Texas; and Telford Unit in New Boston, Texas. These transfers were done as retaliation for me exposing bad conditions at each prison. After the circulation and exposure of this piece, I expect to be transferred again.

Between these prisons, I’ve gathered many reports about prisoners dropping dead from K2 overdoses. Here at the Telford Unit, prisoners and staff contest that “Mike” died from a K2 overdose here on 4 Building, D-pod, Cell 54 nearly two years ago. Rumors say that his “stick” had been laced with nitroglycerin by a guard who’d given it to him. Marks from the welding on the cell to keep it secure pending the investigation can still be seen. Since I’ve been here, two prisoners have died from overdoses.

I’ve gathered many reports about prisoners dropping dead from K2 overdoses.

In particular, on Aug. 29, 2018, around 2:00 a.m., I watched a Black prisoner convulse, foam and jitter while strapped to a gurney and being moved from 4 Building to the infirmary by medical staff who responded with less than the required urgency to collect an overdose victim. This was hours after I saw medical staff slowly pushing a gurney to grab another overdose victim.

The two may not have died, but they certainly overdosed. From what I hear, many prisoners have died throughout the years.

During my stay at Ramsey, Nov. 3, 2017, to Feb. 21, 2018, three prisoners died from K2 overdoses – one died the same day he was leaving the prison to go home. The number of mild overdoses is astounding. On average, at least one a day has to visit the infirmary here.

Within the nucleus of this epidemic, the symptoms of K2 and the drug itself have been given names that are common to staff and prisoners. Tune, toochie, two, gas and dropdead are names given to the drug; tune attack, tuned out and episode are names given to one whose behavior becomes bizarre, or they “get stuck” and stare into space. Zombie-looking prisoners can be seen slugging around everywhere.

The rolled-up joint itself isn’t traditional-looking at all. Due to K2 having such a powerful impact on the mind and body, small toothpick-size “sticks” are rolled and smoked by up to three people.

I’ve seen a person take three puffs then instantly pass out within one minute, stick burning in hand. Guards have a routine of having others place an overdosed prisoner in his cell without calling medical staff, so many overdoses, and their harm to an individual’s brain, are going unreported.

One guard, Sgt. Garland, is notorious for her indifference to overdosed prisoners. In one instance, she wrote a disciplinary case on a prisoner for not going to work. She recognized he was too high to function, and commented that she knew, but she failed to seek him medical care.

Guards have a routine of having others place an overdosed prisoner in his cell without calling medical staff, so many overdoses, and their harm to an individual’s brain, are going unreported.

My first encounter with a “tune attack” occurred in June 2018. A prisoner sitting next to me on the dayroom bench had just taken a few puffs; within three minutes, he began clawing at his chest, all the way down to his ankle. It seemed like he thought his heart had left its original spot and come down his leg.

During my stay at the Clements Unit, a rumor spread in 2017 that a prisoner had a tune attack, screamed “I believe I can fly,” then leaped to his death from the cellblock’s third tier. On Jan. 19, 2018, at the Ramsey Unit, multiple prisoners told me that Alfred Brosig had just smoked a stick before strangling Kenneth W. Johnson to death and then showing guards what he’d done. This was after excited friends of Johnson spent time trying to wake up the sleeping guard.[iii]

Medical staff never take tune attacks seriously and often joke about how the prisoner behaved when they respond to a call. Despite the dangers of this drug, the Telford Unit administration has provided poor oversight on containing the drug or preventing it from being smuggled in.

There is no real interest in implementing a counter, or increasing the amount of scrutiny guards receive when entering the prison. Burnt wicks, partially smoked sticks, and the smell of smoke lingers on the stairwell, in the dayroom and out in hallway.

Ranking staff see obvious paraphernalia and simply step over it. Evidence of drug use is everywhere, so I believe these officials are turning a blind eye to maintain a dormant environment, even at the cost of self-inflicted death. This is state-sponsored genocide!

What we as prisoners need to realize is that this is a staged epidemic that’s designed to stunt our consciousness, growth and ability to be productive members of society upon our release. Bringing awareness to this is the right thing to do. It’s sabotaging our culture and killing us off. Guards get rich; we die!

Between 2016-2017, nearly 60,000 grams of K2 were confiscated in Florida prisons. This doesn’t include the amount that was smoked or sold. Texas has the biggest prison system in the U.S., so there’s no telling how much has been smuggled in here.

What we as prisoners need to realize is that this is a staged epidemic that’s designed to stunt our consciousness, growth and ability to be productive members of society upon our release. Bringing awareness to this is the right thing to do. It’s sabotaging our culture and killing us off. Guards get rich; we die!

In the January 2018 issue of the San Francisco Bay View, Comrade Shaka Shakur hit the nail on the head in his piece, “They say the police said I was a snitch, but what does that make you?” when he explored the perils of lumpen cats hanging with and gossiping with the guards but claiming exposure of the guards violating our rights is snitching.[iv]

Being in cahoots with guards to push K2 among the masses is no different than a police informant selling drugs in the hood that he got from the FBI to help them frame a drug ring. If someone happened to threaten that guard’s job at the prison, wouldn’t you conspire to have that cat shipped off, killed or given trumped-up felony charges? If exposing guards using K2 to kill us is snitching, what does that make you?

Dare to struggle, dare to win! All power to the people!

Send our brother some love and light: Jason Renard Walker, 1532092, Telford Unit, 3899 Hwy 98, New Boston, TX 75570.

Call for a phone-zap and email campaign to support prison rebel Jason Renard Walker in Texas

Jason Renard Walker

Jason Renard Walker, a Texas inmate associated with the 2016 prison strike and who contributed to the Fire Inside zine, has been subject to an increasingly intense campaign of harassment from staff at the Telford Unit, who first issued him a bogus case for threatening a member of staff and then sent him to lockup, preventing him from even being able to attend his own hearing for the trumped-up case.

Public support and pressure is urgently needed to defend Jason from this retaliation. Below are contact details for relevant TDCJ officials and a short script for phone calls.

You can see previous relevant writings from Jason here and here.

You can contact the TDCJ Ombudsman at ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov, as well as the Telford Unit’s management at 903-628-3171 and garth.parker@tdcj.texas.gov. You can speak to the Regional Director’s Office at 903-928-2623, billy.howard@tdcj.texas.gov and carl.mckellar@tdcj.texas.gov. Contact details for TDCJ head office are 936-295-6371, Bryan.Collier@tdcj.texas.gov and exec.director@tdcj.texas.gov.

Script for phone calls:

“Hello, I am contacting you as I have been made aware of a pattern of bogus disciplinary cases being issued by Correctional Officer Renitia T. Davis. In particular, I wish to request that you bring in an appropriate outside investigator to fully investigate the recent cases issued to inmates Jason Renard Walker, #1532092, and Logan Newsome, #2163761, with an eye to getting these fraudulent cases overturned and expunged immediately, as well as conducting a full investigation into Officer Davis’ history.

“Beyond this, I demand that you cease all forms of harassment and retaliation against Jason Walker, including but not limited to the issuing of bogus cases, the censorship of his correspondence, and the denial of access to heat respite. Please investigate and overturn all recent cases and disciplinary measures issued to Mr. Walker by Telford Unit staff, and investigate the conduct of Lt. Estrada, Sgt. Gilstrap, Sgt, Sartin and Lt. Ricks, who have all played a role in the campaign of harassment.

“Thank you.”

Go here for more ways to support Jason, including a longer script for emails, along with a report from Jason describing one of the recent incidents: https://itsgoingdown.org/urgent-call-to-action-defend-jason-walker-from-staff-harassment/.  A witness statement from another inmate is available here

[i] Susan Scutti, “What is K2?”: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/08/18/health/k2-synthetic-weed-explainer/index.html

[ii] Sarah Blaskey, “This drug is turning Florida inmates into ‘zombies.’ It’s fueling a record death toll”: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/special-reports/florida-prisons/article215642855.html

[iii] Jason Walker, “Murder at the Ramsey Unit, Texas”: https://itsgoingdown.org/murder-ramsey-unit-texas-prison-administrations-repression-whistle-blowers

[iv] Shaka Shakur, “They say the police said I was a snitch, but what does that make you?”: http://sfbayview.com/2017/12/they-say-the-police-said-i-was-a-snitch-but-what-does-that-make-you/

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