Chill Factor: The Unjust Response to Prisoner Deaths at the Allred Unit
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What's there to hide?
From the beginning of my arrival at the Allred Unit in Iowa Park, Texas, it became obvious that this prison was no different than any other I've been to, given the overt racism and slave-like treatment. But as the days passed, I soon learned that, unlike many other prisons, prisoner deaths and subsequent cover-ups was the norm. So normal that investigators (OGI) only spoke with prisoners who saw nothing or those selected by guards, on the grounds that they were known to side with prison officials. Anyone choosing to go against the grain simply became targets of harassment, mail theft, bogus cases and assault.
For going against the grain, here's what happens to you.
Towards the end of Feb 2019, I sent out a report concerning staff-initiated in-cell gladiator fights. This piece was published on March 10, and was written specifically to raise awareness before a prisoner died. During the posting process of the piece, a prisoner was killed as a direct and proximate result of the gladiator fight mentality held by staff in the 2-man solitary section, where I was housed.
For further clarity and background please read this piece.
On March 7, 2019, Joseph Oguntodu was killed by his cellmate, who had already told staff (a white lesbian guard whose name is unknown) that he would kill Joseph; Joseph told the same staff member that his life was in danger in response. She told Joseph to "man up", then left.
Around 8:30am, this same guard escorted a white female nurse while she passed out medication. Joseph's cell window was covered, obstructing the view. After no-one answered the guard's knock, she said no meds would be put in the cell, as punishment for having it covered. A voice told her that they were in the act of killing. She said for him to make sure it was done when she came back. This nurse falsely documented that meds were verbally refused. On this day, Office Leobardo d. Varela was working the pod as well.
Neither Varela or the unnamed guard conducted the 8:30am count. This is a count that requires both cellies to present their I.D. cards. Instead, just as the nurse did, she falsely documented that everyone complied. The cell window remained covered until after 6:00pm, when the killer confessed to guards what he'd done. It took him nearly 20 minutes to convince Officer Schmidt that Joseph was dead. His effort to alert a black female guard around 12:45pm was likewise denied. The bloody-headed body was removed, warden Holmes showed up, then the cover-up began. I learned that the 1:00pm count also wasn't done.
I did what little research I could, wrote a report, then sent it out the following morning. Several months later, I learned that the report never made it out of the prison. The recipient of the report stated that he received only an empty envelope. The whereabouts of the contents remain unknown.
Rumors say that the unnamed guard was fired, but what good does that do when she was only emulating conduct that can be found up to the highest positions in TDCJ? At the most, she and many other low-level staff are the product of the bad barrel that produces the few bad apples that take the fall. When the heat comes, the barrel vanishes, leaving the manipulated to fend for themselves. A new crew of staff are hired, and business goes on as usual.
During the investigative stage, the few prisoners that were willing to expose the staff's role were ignored. Instead, two female OGI employees only seemed interested in setting the narrative that Joseph instigated his own death, which occurred right as the shift changed. In an effort to see "tits and a fat ass", many prisoners bore witness to this scenario. From what the truth-tellers told me, what they had to say was outright ignored. I was told a specific order was made to not allow me to be interviewed. I, and those who refused, were the only ones not seen.
Following this came death threats, extortive harassment, a false disciplinary case and further mail disappearances. This info was passed on to Keri Blakinger of the Houston Chronicle, who ignored it along with emails from supporters. I assume that if it fails to net her a payout, she'll ignore it. Plenty of evidence suggests this.
In my second effort to bring some awareness to the unjust reporting of prisoner deaths by prison officials, I request that someone investigate, not only this matter, but each death that occurred here within the last 24 months, too many to list here, and it will become evident that the Allred Unit has something to hide.
Dare to struggle, dare to win! All power to the people!
Jason Renard Walker
2101 FM 369N
Iowa Park, TX 76367