In Texas, solitary confinement is The New Jim Crow

A-Change-is-Gonna-Come-Jeffrey-Gibson-2019, In Texas, solitary confinement is The New Jim Crow, Behind Enemy Lines
“A Change is Gonna Come.” Art by Jeffrey Gibson “My idol is Nelson Mandela. I hope one day I am able to make a change like he did, proving those wrong who said he would never get out of prison and be somebody. If I ever get out of RHU, my goal is to prove Texas wrong and push for reform and be a Life Coach encouraging other prisoners in RHU to not give up. Tomorrow is not promised and our safety is not guaranteed.” – Britney Gulley 

by Britney Gulley

As I sit in a 9-by-6-foot single cell, I listen to Sam Cooke’s song “A change is gonna to come” on the podcast on my tablet. Yes, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, TDCJ, has finally updated from the Stone Age and has allowed technology amongst the prisoners. But these tablets in RHU (Restrictive Housing Unit) still don’t modify that solitary confinement is torture. And adding televisions to the recreation cages still does not modify that solitary confinement is inhumane. It only placates the courts.

According to the United Nations, there was a call for a global ban on solitary confinement longer than 15 days. Across the nation, Texas is the leader of the use of prolonged solitary confinement. Solitary confinement is considered a form of torture in United Nations special rapporteurs. So why does Texas prison utilize this dehumanizing factor? RHU on Lane Murray Unit, is filled to capacity of maximum with Black prisoners and transgender F2M prisoners. A few Hispanics, no whites.

Let’s backtrack. First, Texas was the last state to free the slaves. Texas didn’t let the slaves go until the prisons were built. All prisons in Texas are named after highly-ranked KKKs, white supremacist, slave owners and are those who were against freeing the slaves. Now in 2022, incarceration rates around the world, the U.S. tops the charts, with Texas at #3 in mass incarceration. Texas is #1 for having more than 500 prisoners that have served more than 10 years in RHU, and 138 have served over 20 years in RHU in the men’s unit. At the women’s unit? We are the forgotten!

“Keep that nigger locked up; I don’t care how long she stays down there. It’ll teach the dumb, Black f***** to stop writing.”

TDCJ basically allows the wardens in the women’s unit to do anything they want, even if it’s corrupt. I was framed for a staff assault against Sgt. Kyleen Tyson after an article I wrote was published exposing her for racism, transphobia and abuse. Warden Audrey England took it upon herself to place me into RHU. After following policy and unit procedure utilizing the prison grievance process, the disciplinary case that stated I allegedly assaulted Sgt. Kyleen Tyson was overturned. So why am I still in RHU? Because Warden Audrey England stated: “Keep that nigger locked up; I don’t care how long she stays down there. It’ll teach the dumb, Black f***** to stop writing.” I am not surprised, but still, the confirmed hurts. 

Only the strong will survive in RHU. There’s some prison officials who consider the prisoners a joke and entertainment. Sgt. Katherine Kirkland-Walker made it a point to tell another prisoner to spit on me when I walk by her cell. What I don’t understand is why? Sgt. Catherine Kirkland-Walker is one of many prison officials who enjoys their job of terrorizing prisoners, mainly Black and transgenders, of course. 

Being in a cell 23 hours a day, only coming out for a 10-minute shower and 50 minutes recreation a day, officers come back to work sometimes stating, “You still here?” The cynicism, the hatred, the dehumanizing is common in RHU. One officer in particular makes it a point to torment prisoners in RHU, waking them up every count time and every walk security check, which is every 30 minutes. C.O. Carolina K. McMinn laughs as she taunts prisoners in RHU. 

What do all these prison officials have in common? They’re all white. They are either KKK or have Aryan Brotherhood affiliated brothers or husbands. Some officers encourage the prisoners to kill themselves. Lane Murray Unit has the highest suicide death rate in TDCJ. Why? Shaking my head. Sometimes a few officers go antagonize and taunt a prisoner. In RHU, the officers get bored so this is their entertainment: lock up Black and transgender prisoners and torture them mentally, emotionally and psychologically.

The New Jim Crow is Texas RHU! RHU was made for the sole purpose of segregating white prisoners from Blacks and LGBTQIA transgenders and a concealed way to kill off the Black and transgenders like genocide legally and it is precise.

History is repeating itself. Deja Vu! Men like Dennis Hope, women like Kwaneta Harris are unlikely survivors in the RHU genocide of prisoners, beating all odds. Kwaneta Harris suffers like me, dealing with brutal racist and transphobic officers who come to work as their goal to make RHU prisoners miserable. 

 I will not lose hope. I will not lose my mind!

What does the government have to say about this? Nothing! The TDCJ executive director issues tablets to pacify the inmates, which I don’t understand and can’t comprehend because we can’t even talk on the phone or E-message our family. So what’s the point? It was all for show! And what’s the point of TVs being in the recreation cages if we can’t change the channel to actually watch a show or sports?

Lane Murray Unit has one of the highest KKK, Aryan Brotherhood affiliations among prison officers and employers: Sgt. Zachary Kraft, Warden Audrey England, Sgt. Catherine Kirkland-Walker, C.O. Carolina K. McMinn, C.O. Wyatt L. Smith, Sgt. Terry L. Smith, Sgt. Sherry F. Mowry, C.O. Bryce R. Davis, Sgt. Kyleen K. Tyson, Counsel substitute Kimberly G. Copeland, C.O. Tanja Stanley, Lt. Culley P .Carr, Sgt. Michella R. Easter, all racist and transphobic, bullying prisoners, abusing their authority because they can get away with it. We are still humans and we don’t deserve to be treated like animals. These people treat their horses and pigs better than the prisoners, and it’s sick!

Being locked up on top of being locked up, that’s what goes through my thoughts daily as I feel the walls closing in on me, as I listen to other prisoners scream, yell, bang, cut themselves, cry and lose their mind literally! Where’s the Justice? Does anyone care? 

President Biden can send $40 billion to another country, Ukraine, but yet the U.S. is at war, in shambles in Texas! Where is prison reform? Other states have adopted a reform movement that passed laws adhering to bettering the prison justice system (Oregon, Illinois, Colorado). As always, Texas is the last state to participate in positively changing the nation. Governor Abbott is too busy passing laws that ban abortions and laws that stop people from being LGBTQIA. Period, point blank, the discrimination, the stigma, the exclusion, the abuse, the racism, the transphobia, the injustices in Texas prisons need to be abolished.

The first step is to eliminate RHU completely from the prisons. They say in the middle of difficulty lies an opportunity. I keep this in mind as I toil Behind Enemy Lines. I will not lose hope. I will not lose my mind! These are affirmations I say everyday when I look in the mirror. It’s sad I must do this so I won’t fall victim to the statistics of those who have lost their sanity while in prolonged solitary confinement.

My idol is Nelson Mandela. I hope one day I am able to make a change like he did, proving those wrong who said he would never get out of prison and be somebody. If I ever get out of RHU, my goal is to prove Texas wrong and push for reform and be a Life Coach encouraging other prisoners in RHU to not give up. Tomorrow is not promised and our safety is not guaranteed. 

The few Black rank on Lane Murray Unit, Capt. Antoinette N. Snead, Capt. Lasonja L Gilmore and Maj. Sophia Smith-Shane, stand by allowing these atrocities to occur. What does that tell you? Even non-imprisoned Black people are afraid of their coworkers, or they’re just cowards participating in the genocide of their own people. Moral of the story is, The New Jim Crow exists! 

Please send our brother some love and light to F2M transgender: Gulley Britney, 1601283, Lane Murray Unit, 1916 N. Hwy 36 Bypass, Gatesville, TX 76596.