Keith Malik Washington

End prison slavery in Texas now! Part II: Class consciousness and international solidarity

by Keith ‘Malik’ Washington, chief spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement and deputy chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter (NABPP PC), Texas Region

Originally published in the SF Bayview, March 3rd, 2017
Part One was published here.

“Largely missing from mainstream discourse on mass incarceration is the history of slave rebellions and revolts, revolutionary internationalism and Malcolm X, COINTELPRO and the BPP. Yet it is within this history that we find the tools for combating not only mass incarceration but also the monster of institutionalized racism that created it. We must understand mass incarceration as deeply tied to the legacy of slavery. This provides the intellectual grounding for the prison abolition movement and relates to human rights struggles that call for international solidarity.” – Nyle Fort, “Insurgent Intellectual: Mumia Abu Jamal in the age of Mass Incarceration,” p.144, Socialism and Democracy, Volume 28, 2014, Issue 3

Revolutionary greetings, Comrades!

There’s no sense in playing games. Y’all know what this is, so let’s get straight to the business. Minister Nyle Fort starts us off with a strong quote.

I am going to expand his analysis by highlighting the historical fact that slavery in the United States was and is still directly tied to capitalism! So in order for us to combat and abolish legalized slavery in Amerika we must focus our attention on dismantling the system which has allowed this institution of modern prison slavery to proliferate.

The theory and practice of the original Black Panther Party can be applied in 2017. We must contemporize and bring everything into the here and now. There is nothing that makes the prisoncrats in Amerika more uneasy than the thought of class consciousness and class solidarity among prisoners.

What I have discovered is if you want to make any significant impacts in “the struggle,” you must find out what the oppressor loathes and fears the most and then give that to them! For instance, I discovered that Texas and numerous other departments of corrections throughout Amerika hate negative media coverage, so that is what I tried to give them.

I already knew there was going to be reactionary response to my work in Texas. I’m not going to stop! However, for us to take this thing to the next level, there must be unity among all races inside the slave kamps and gulags. Let’s reflect on the words of Malcolm X.

Class consciousness

“I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the system of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don’t think it will be based on the color of the skin.” – Malcolm X

Comrades, it’s not as if our sisters and brothers in Texas don’t “get it.” Texas prisoners know exactly what must be done, but most are scared as hell of the consequences.

The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee fully understands the complex challenges of educating and organizing prisoners. Many of us understand the dynamic of protracted struggle. I’m in this for the long haul. I’ve got until 2028.

Parole is an illusion in Texas, part of the deception and lies sold to the public. In Texas, parole is a tool of manipulation and coercion used to keep the “slaves” in line. For sure a few make it, but thousands never are given a chance. They languish in these hellholes with no relief in sight.

So, as a class, the workers of the world are being exploited and oppressed. In order for there to be a revolution, there must be an agreement among all of us on a grand scale that we will resist capitalism and imperialism.

I say to you, join the IWW (International Workers of the World) – become a member of our prisoner labor union. When we call for a collective action, get involved. Slave laborers in prison do have power – if they choose to use it.

There is a group of mainstream activists and organizations in Texas. They know about me and our movement, although I’ve not been invited to their table. To them I represent an element that the oppressor (TDCJ) despises. The stance is, “We’ll just ignore them; they are not a FACTOR.”

More accurately stated, we are not welcome to the discussion table. Jennifer Erschabek, the executive director of TIFA (Texas Inmate Families Association), sits at the negotiation table with Sen. Whitmire and Sen. Huffman of the Texas Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee. Jennifer certainly tries to represent our interests, but she misses the mark. Someone from our ranks must be in the mix. Someone with a vested interest in our freedom and success.


The motto and mantra of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter is: “We seek to turn these slave pens of oppression into schoolhouses of liberation.”

The struggle to abolish prison slavery has already become a national movement. You would be hard pressed not to find a prisoner in Amerika unaware of this struggle. Our next step is to introduce our struggle to the world in order to garner international support. But the question is: Are we a world of nations or communities?

The United States of Amerika has become an empire – the U.S. won’t allow a nation to exist. Therefore, we’ve become a collection of communities. I believe Comrade Tom Watts describes it best when he says:

“Revolutionary Intercommunalism is the theoretical understanding that the world that we live in today has become globalized and the principle contradiction in the world is now between the need of the capitalist-imperialist ruling class to consolidate their global hegemony and the anarchy and chaos they are unleashing by attempting to do so, including the threat of a new world war. Revolutionary Intercommunalism recognizes that because of this globalization, independent nation states can no longer exist as such, and cannot exist except as temporarily ‘liberated territory’ besieged and undermined by the forces and agents of capitalist imperialism.”

In the spirit of Revolutionary Intercommunalism, which was introduced to us by Dr. Huey P. Newton, we the members of the IWOC (Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, a project of IWW) have reached out to Amnesty International and said:

“We the prisoners inside the United States are human beings. We are members of the world community. We contend that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should apply to us! Help us throw off the yoke of slavery!”

This is what we are saying and this is what Amnesty International says:

“We are ordinary people from across the world standing up for humanity and human rights. Our purpose is to protect individuals wherever justice, freedom, fairness and truth are denied.”

If my understanding is correct, then we will be seeing unprecedented support for our abolition movement.

The goal of Revolutionary Intercommunalism is to overthrow capitalist imperialism and create a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” The proletariat are the workers. You who cook food, mop and sweep runs, pick vegetables, plant crops, fix plumbing, press and wash clothes – you are a worker! The founding fathers of this country said it!

Now it is time to change that narrative: Amend the 13th Amendment! Abolish legal slavery!

Focusing in on the oppressor

The Prison Industrial Slave Complex in Amerika is so vast and generates billions of dollars for corporate entities in every state. Our comrades from the Free Alabama Movement made the call for a boycott of food service giant Aramark.

Sisters and brothers, Aramark purposely starves human beings! In 2007, I was released from federal prison. I was ordered to enter a halfway house in downtown Houston, Texas. Aramark had the food contract and the meals were substandard and inadequate to say the least. My experience was that the meals were paltry – serving sizes not fit for adults.

Prisoners from many states and jurisdictions have been victims of Aramark’s exploitive and deceptive business practices. Aramark spokesperson Karen Cutler claims that inmates who have complained about food quality are liars. Cutler says, “Our dedication to quality and service have made us a leader in our industry for more than 75 years.”

Comrades, Aramark is a capitalist corporation which does not give a damn about the human beings who are mistreated, abused and starved. We have to continue this boycott and try to put them out of business – period.

In Texas, the main oppressor and exploiter of prisoners is Texas Corrections Industries, or TCI. TCI has approximately 37 factories all over the sprawling Texas prison system. It is in our interest to withdraw our Free Labor from all TCI plants, whether you are a mattress factory worker at Wynne Unit, a welder or industrial painter at Coffield, or a meat packing plant worker at Neil or Michaels Unit. The best strategy for us to get paid and fix this corrupt parole system is to shut down all the TCI factories – now!

The next culprit on our list is the prison store, commonly known as the commissary. TDCJ commissaries sell electronic appliances, shorts, t-shirts, thermals and socks, as well as a variety of junk food. TDCJ gouges prisoners’ families by marking up items 50 percent or more!

For instance, in 2009 a ramen noodle soup, by far the most popular item in Texas, was marked up by 49 percent! The wholesale price was 14 cents and the retail price 25 cents each. In 2017, that same soup is .30 cents, and times are worse for poor families in Texas who try to support an incarcerated loved one. Texas doesn’t give a damn about these prisoners or their families.

As with TCI and its relationship with the corrupt Texas Board of Criminal Justice, we are seeing patterns of deceptive business practices by TDCJ and the companies that it awards contracts to in order to supply Texas prisoners with subpar and poor quality commissary items. Barbco, Keefe and even New Balance have entered into contracts with TDCJ where poor quality items are forced upon prisoners. It’s the only store in town!

Prisoner Keith M. Cole has actually taken TDCJ to civil court over what he claims to be a pervasive and systemic problem with faulty TDCJ commissary items. For example, Cole has cited tennis shoes that rip after the first wear, radio head phones that instantly suffer from power shortages on one side, and stale food items. I can testify from my own experience that TDCJ is definitely running a scam on prisoners and their families.

TDCJ commissaries made a profit of about $30 million in 2009 on gross sales of $94.9 million. I gathered most of this specific information from an article written by Matt Clarke in the November 2010 Prison Legal News on the topic of Texas prison commissaries.

Flyer for the May 1-31st 2017 Texas Prison Commissary Boycott, page 1

It is only logical that we ask TDCJ prisoners to stage a boycott of Texas prison commissaries in May 2017! On top of higher quality items, we want healthier choices! The food in Texas prisons has become progressively worse. Looming budget cuts have forced us to rely on the commissary more and more in order to fulfill our nutritional needs.


Flyer for the May 1-31st 2017 Texas Prison Commissary Boycott, p2

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, TCI, TDCJ and the legislators on the various criminal justice committees stopped viewing us as human beings long ago. Vietnam War veteran and activist S. Brian Willson has a wonderful quote in his memoir, “Blood on the Tracks,” which truly describes the nature of the bureaucratic oppressor in Texas and beyond.

He says: “Economic and political structures are not people, yet they are comprised of people – bureaucrats – who strive to keep their jobs. It’s important to understand that the people who make decisions and materially benefit from economic systems are generally far removed from the effects of their decisions. Within the enclosed cocoon of their work world, bureaucrats experience the people impacted by the system as nothing, more or less, than a statistic.”

Now I want to bring the point home so everyone understands me.

In Texas, solitary confinement is used in order to punish politicized prisoners such as myself. However, these administrative segregation units are also used to hide mentally ill prisoners and isolate so-called Security Threat Group members.

Comrade Kevin “Rashid” Johnson has assembled an impressive body of research material which clearly shows these Ad-Seg units in Texas are “incubators for psychosis.”

The Texas Board of Criminal Justice is far removed from the dark, dank, oppressive and inhumane environments Ad-Seg prisoners are forced to live in. In August 2013, the board changed the indigent correspondence rules.

Indigent prisoners went from being allowed to send out five personal letters a week to only five per month! The prisoners hurt the most were those trapped in long-term solitary (Ad-Seg). I personally know many prisoners who are suffering in this sensory deprived environment.

Writing a letter to a family member or friend, an activist or member of the clergy actually can be therapeutic to many prisoners. These connections to the “free world” have the potential of saving a life. Life can become so very meaningless and hopeless in here.

Do any of you believe the Texas Board of Criminal Justice thought about this deeply before they decided to limit isolated human beings’ access to the only “lifeline” they have? Have I made my point?

In 2016 at the H.H. Coffield Unit, we saw a spike in suicides of prisoners housed in Ad-Seg: 13 dead human beings! The Texas Board of Criminal Justice is not concerned about loss of life or quality of life. In all their decision-making, it’s all about the bottom line.

Once again I quote S. Brian Willson when he says, “(B)ureaucrats essentially repress knowledge of someone being tortured, of someone being imprisoned. The system insidiously requires this kind of denial in order to maintain itself.”

What is a revolutionary?

In order to discredit me and silence my voice, the state of Texas and the TDCJ has employed numerous tactics.

A lot of people don’t understand that I represent a new generation of revolutionaries and social justice activists. It’s not just me. It’s Pastor Kenneth Glasgow, the national spokesperson for the Free Alabama Movement, it’s the IWOC, it’s the Peoples’ Minister JR Valrey, it’s Alicia Garza, it’s Asha Bandele, Professor Alondra Nelson, Talib Kwali, Marc Lamont Hill, Wolverine Shakur, Mecca Shakur, Quanell-X, Krystal Muhammad and Robert S. Muhammad, Ph.D.

So the “oppressor class” labels us as being “angry,” “violent” or “militant,” when in reality our only crime is being passionate about protecting human beings and severing our ties to a system that continues to destroy the world. Imperialism!

For those of you who have time, I highly recommend you read Manning Marable’s “How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America.” It truly improved my understanding of the challenges we face. On page 231, Marable quotes Boggs and Boggs from their book, “Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century.”

They say: “A revolutionist does not hate the country in which the illegitimate and oppressive system continues to rule. Far less does the revolutionist hate the people of the country. On the contrary, a revolutionist loves the country and the people but hates what some people are doing to the country and the people.”

Comrades, friends and allies, please know and understand that when Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, Kinetic Justice, Iman Saddique Abdullah Hasan, Heshima Denham and myself watch as our sisters and brothers at Standing Rock fight to protect land and preserve clean and safe water supplies, we are keenly aware that an imperialist, multinational corporation by the name of Energy Transfer Partners has defined itself as an enemy of the people.

Carole Seligman and Bunnie Weinstein, the editors of Socialist Viewpoint Magazine, taught me a Lakota saying, “Mitakuye oyasin,” which means, “We are all related.” And trust me, we are!

More solidarity and unity needed

Comrades, there are no easy solutions to the problems we face. The road is long and filled with many obstacles.

It is very important that I take time to acknowledge the work of our anarchist friends at The Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons. The EPA is holding Volkswagen accountable for polluting the environment but for some reason the human beings in Pennsylvania and Texas being forced to drink contaminated and toxic water in state prisons don’t register on the EPA’s radar!? Without the sincere dedication of comrade Pagnioti Tsolkas, our cries for clean water supplies would be totally ignored.

The Anarchist Black Cross Federation all over the world has increased their support of our abolitionist work. Socialist and Communist scholars such as Tom Watts and Professor Victor Wallis Ph.D. have continued to provide much needed guidance, mentorship and political support. Revolutionary supporters such as Michael Novick and Karl Kerplebedeb have never abandoned us – never!

And more and more each day our European comrades are entering the struggle with us, lending cyber, material, moral and political support: Heinz Leitner of Vienna, Austria, Alina Dallat of France, Annabelle Parker of The Netherlands and Sam Rosen of the U.K.

This battle against prison slavery is an all-encompassing collective effort. We need Amnesty International to recognize our struggle.

Chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Shaka Sankofa Zulu is free! He has been hard at work rebuilding his life and laying foundations of support for the NABPP PC and our United Panther movement; it is only fitting that I end by quoting Shaka:

“Pantherism is the tool for mobilization and organization of the masses, for it articulates the desires and class aspirations of the people to be free from hunger, diseases, poor housing, racism, imperialist wars of aggression, patriarchal relations and oppression of all kinds. Pantherism is merely the politics of the have-nots who slave in the sweaty and dank factories across the Black world and live in shanty towns and slums. In short, it is the language of real life.”

Brothers and sisters, I can only make “The Call.” Dare to struggle, dare to win. All Power to the People.

Send our brother some love and light: Keith H. Washington, 1487958, Eastham Unit, 2665 Prison Rd 1, Lovelady TX 75851.

Amend The 13th Logo in black and white, cop. Heshima DenhamMalik is our Amend The 13th Texas Inside Coordinator.

Please donate towards our Typewriter fund for Amend The 13th!

Update July 20 2017:
We were able to order a typewriter for Abdul, which he shares with Heshima, and Heshima has been able to mend his old one. Thank you for donating, this really makes a big difference!

We sent donations gathered for Malik to him, but we are still short of funds for his typewriter. We need about 200 USD still!

We have been crowdfunding to get Amend The 13th-founder Heshima and Free-Speech-Society-founder Abdul typewriters, as well as our Abolish13- Texas inside-coordinator Malik.

photo of an electronic typewriter for prisoners

These are the types of electronic typewriters allowed in CA prisons

Typewriters, however old-fashioned they seem to us on the outside, are very important for authors, essayists, inventors, artists, correspondents in prison. The ones sold to people inside via official vendors often break soon, because during collective cell searches the typewriters are often malhandled.

Also, in the SHU (solitary confinement) the prisoners are not allowed dust caps on their electric typewriters, and therefore the machines degenerate quickly. Now that Heshima and Abdul are in general population, the issue is mal-handling of the machines during cellsearches. Malik however is in Texas in solitary.

The typewriters allowed need ribbons, correction tape and paper. This all costs money. This is where the men need our assistance.

Our crowdfunder is hosted at YouCaring, a platform that does not take extra % of donations. It works via Paypal. You can also contact us and make a donation directly to us via Paypal (whch we will make visible on the crowdfunder), but we can unfortunately not accept cheques.

Right now we have enough for one typewriter of the 3 we need. If we now have 16 people donating 25 USD each, we could buy 3 typewriters excluding ribbons, paper etc.

Please share this post with people who may donate, however small a donation, everything is welcome 🙂 THANK YOU!!

Amend 13!

by Keith “Malik” Washington, deputy chairman, New Afrikan Black Panther Party, Prison Chapter, Texas Region and Cerdell “Yasin” Bennett, cofounder, On Da Verg

This is a public notice to all freedom fighters, activists and community leaders: SLAVERY IS NOT DEAD!

SF Bayview, May 22, 2016

Did the 13th Amendment abolish slavery? Ask anyone in the United States this question and they will answer most emphatically: Yes, of course it did.

If you, the person reading this article and call to action, believe this as well, please allow me to inform you: You are wrong!

Slavery is not dead! Upon careful examination, you will find the opposite is true. Rather than abolish slavery, the 13th Amendment LEGALIZED it!

The 13th Amendment reads: “Neither slavery or involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their juris­diction.”

This actually is a clever play on words. The Exception Clause in the 13th Amendment was a compromise in order to encourage the Confederate states to cease the Civil War and rejoin the Union. The only thing the Confederate states had to do in order to maintain their slaves was to CRIMINALIZE them.

This was done by legislators who purposely enacted ridiculous laws for the judicial branch of their governments, including the Jim Crow laws and Black Codes. Within six months to a year, newly freed slaves were returned to their former position of servitude.

Slavery was not dead. On the contrary, it was and is still alive in states such as Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas. And some of us know that Texas has perfected the modern slave plantation model via its prison agency, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

From the late 1800s until the present date, the above method of enslavement has been the preferred practice, pattern and collective mindset of the Southern states and various other states all across Amerika. The conspiracy to incarcerate Black, Latino/a, and poor White women and men is no longer a theory; it is a stark reality.

The overwhelming statistics show that slavery is not dead in Amerika. Professor Michelle Alexander expounded on the topic very concisely and eloquently in her trailblazing work, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”

Some scholars say Professor Alexander left out the part that describes the main culprit behind mass incarceration in Amerika – capitalism! But this article and plea for action is not about the incarceration of our men and women.

This article challenges the morality of our forefathers and modern day leaders who have allowed the Exception Clause to remain in the 13th Amendment. President Obama, can you hear me? The question we must ask ourselves is: “Should the U.S. Con­stitution allow slavery as punishment for committing a crime?”

If so, how heinous a crime should one commit to rightfully sentence him or her to slavery?

Can slavery be administered as a behavioral “salve” or “ointment” – applying just a little slavery to the “infected person” until the unwanted behavior clears up? Ask yourself: Throughout history, has dehumanization, degradation and abuse ever brought about restoration?

After pondering these questions, we must ask: Why is slavery not dead in Amerika? Who is benefitting from this?

The fact that in 2016 the U.S. Constitution still possesses these words is a great disgrace to our African Ancestors who lost their lives in wars to avoid capture. Just close your eyes for one moment and contemplate and visualize the countless millions who died during the Middle Passage in the hulls of slave ships.

Think about the enslaved human beings who endured untold demonic treatment, those who tried to flee, the abolitionists who fought with intellect, muskets and swords, the woman who refused to stand or to go to the back of the bus, the man who shared his dream and made it ours, the students escorted to schools where they were not welcome, and the million men, women and families who marched upon Washington to confront and combat these injustices and many more.

Can’t you see slavery must die?

Comrades, sisters and brothers, a race began approximate1y 400 years ago; the baton has been passed from hand to hand for centuries. Now it is being passed to you!

What will you do with it? We are asking that you dip the baton in ink – maybe cyber ink – and sign the petition, “End Legal Slavery in U.S. Prisons” at  Another version of the petition is “Amend 13!” at We ask that you sign both petitions and share them with your friends on social media throughout the world, urging them to sign on!

Let us all get involved – Black, Latino/a, Asian, Arab, Indian, Austrian, German, French, Chinese, Japanese, African and Italian … Are there any Irish freedom fighters out there? We need you. I am humbly requesting the unity of the world to finally deliver the blow that puts to death the genocidal practice known as SLAVERY!

Send our brother some love and light: Keith “Malik” Washington, 1487958, Coffield Unit, 2661 FM 2054, Tennessee Colony TX 75884.

Website: Comrade Malik

Malik is Texas inside coordinator for Amend The 13th.

End prison slavery in Texas now!

by Keith ‘Malik’ Washington, Deputy Chairman, New Afrikan Black Panther Party, Prison Chapter, Texas Region

Originally published in: SF Bayview, Feb. 11, 2016

“Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything but cry over their condition. But when they get mad, they bring about change.” – Malcolm X

Revolutionary greetings!

In Texas we know that we are being exploited, mistreated, degraded and abused. Many prisoners in Texas are content with the modern day slave plantation system, which is managed and operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. However, many prisoners are not content; in fact they are frustrated and angry.

The strategies utilized by prisoners in other states that have similar conditions to Texas don’t necessarily apply here. More accurately stated, we cannot do what others have done because we have not reached the level of solidarity and political development prisoners in other states such as California have reached.

This is not to belittle or degrade my fellow prisoners in Texas; I’m just stating facts. The hunger strike and work stoppage in California forced prison officials to re-assess the oppressive policies which have led to the inhumane treatment. Many human beings are trapped in Pelican Bay and numerous other solitary confinement units in California. Solitary confinement is torture, whether it is utilized by CDCR or TDCJ. Abolition of this form of punishment is the only correct solution.

The question which has plagued prisoner rights activists such as myself is: “What is the best strategy for Texas?” How do we initiate a movement that will be embraced by Texas prisoners and their families alike?

Texas is a family oriented state. You cannot proceed with a serious initiative without including family members who will lobby the state legislature and speak to the media on behalf of their loved ones. I was very impressed with the support that California prisoner and Pelican Bay Freedom Fighter Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa received from his sister. Every time I opened the Bay View, there she was – at protests, speaking to the media, legislators, truly awesome!

The Slave State

I strongly support abolition of the prison industrial complex; I would like to see an end to mass incarceration. I am a multi-racial New Afrikan Black mixed with Arab and Latino. It is our populations that have been hurt the most by the so-called “war on drugs.” Texas is the most racist and oppressive state in Amerika.

Texas did not want to recognize the emancipation of Black slaves in Amerika; that is why Juneteenth was created, to celebrate Texas’ two-year-late recognition of federal law. You see, Texas has a history of ignoring the human and civil rights of disadvantaged minorities.

If Texas can usurp or circumvent federal law or the U.S. Constitution in order to oppress Blacks, Latino/as or even poor whites, it will. The uniforms that Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees wear are patterned after Confederate soldier uniforms! This is the truth.

Texas wants to remind you constantly that it supported and still supports the subjugation of New Afrikans. When prisoners are taken to the fields to pick cotton, green beans and corn, among other crops, TDCJ officers sit on horses with cowboy hats on and hold shotguns, screaming at you, “You better get your cut, Washington, or I’m writing you a case!” I am not lying. This is the reality here in Texas.

The current conditions in Texas dictate that we must address our treatment as slaves and the inability of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recognize our good time and work credits. We want these credits directly applied to our sentences so we can return to our families and communities. What Texas has engaged in is a form of sophisticated deception.

The main individuals being deceived are our family members. Most of us prisoners are well aware of the deceptive practices perpetrated by the Parole Board. Their actions are promoted, sanctioned and condoned by the Legislature and the Texas Board of Criminal Justice.

The slave model in Texas is perpetrated by what TDCJ calls TCI or Texas Correctional Industries. On paper, TCI is set up as a non-profit that provides job skills and on-the-job training for prisoners who work in various factory and light industrial jobs throughout Texas. The model is deceptive and TDCJ spends a lot of time and resources giving the general public the impression that rehabilitation is its focus.

However, once a person starts digging and researching the financial records and transactions being made, you will uncover something else. You see, I spent time as an accountant working in the office of the now defunct Stiles Unit Metal Fabrication Plant located in Beaumont, Texas.

What I discovered is that TDCJ and Texas is making a huge profit on the backs of prisoners who provide free labor. Palms are constantly greased; back-door deals are being made in order to keep investors, corporate representatives, and independent contractors happy. It is all a very elaborate system.

The senior wardens of these prisons in Texas act as CEOs ensuring a constant flow of slave laborers to run “the factory.” It may be a tire plant, meatpacking plant, furniture factory, textile factory, computer recovery plant, mattress factory, or metal fabrication plant. Profits certainly are being generated, but prisoners in Texas don’t get paid! Why is that?

Prison officials and legislators say TCI is providing valuable job skills and training for free. All right then, if that is the case, why won’t the Parole Board recognize the good time and work time credits of all Texas prisoners?

Anyone who has worked in one of these factories knows you can’t be a “bad actor” to work in the factory. If I’m being forced to work for free, I want to get back to my family as soon as possible so my family can benefit from my new job skills. But that is not how the slave model is set up. No! It is not working like that.

I have met numerous men who have toiled in these various factories for years, some even decades, yet here they remain, still working for free and the work conditions continue to get worse. Some prisoners work 8- to 12-hour shifts at various factories throughout Texas; many like to drink coffee or work out during breaks in order to relieve stress.

TDCJ officers who are assigned to “the factory” make it a point to be extra harsh in their management style because they know these factory jobs are preferred by prisoners. I mean you’re stuck here! Texas doesn’t give a damn about you and they certainly aren’t interested in paroling you, so if you had a choice between working like Kunta Kinte in the field or in a factory job, which would you choose? Prisoners in Texas are caught between a rock and a hard place.

The Texas philosophy

For those who are well versed in Texas history, you will know that Texas was founded on the precept of white supremacy.

The current governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, subscribes to a eugenic type of thinking in which Black and Brown people are inferior to whites, and this thinking justifies our current enslavement and inhumane treatment. Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederate States during the U.S. Civil War, best described the philosophy of Texans like Gov. Abbott and Brad Livingston, the executive director of TDCJ, when he said in an 1861 speech:

“The Confederacy cornerstone rests upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.”[1]

This is what we are up against in Texas.

Our philosophy and strategy

In Texas as throughout Amerika the so-called low class “Negro” comes in various colors, shapes, sizes and genders. There are white, Black, latino/a, Asian and Arab “Negros” trapped inside Texas prisons. Original Black Panther Comrade Fred Hampton best illustrated this point when he entered a white bar in the late ‘60s to recruit white people to take part in socialist change.

I want you to understand exactly where I am coming from so there won’t be any confusion. So I ask you to read and analyze this quote from Comrade Fred Hampton; it comes from a speech he made in 1969:

“We got to face some facts. That the masses are poor, that the masses belong to what you call the lower class, and when I talk about the masses, I’m talking about the white masses, I’m taking about the Black masses, and the Brown masses and the yellow masses too. We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism; we’re gonna fight racism with solidarity. We say you don’t fight capitalism with no Black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism.”[2]

This quote embodies the theory, philosophy and revolutionary practice of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, Prison Chapter. Of course we love and respect New Afrikan Black people, but we shun this uber Black nationalism which is embraced by other groups passing themselves off as Panthers. You can’t brutally attack an elder in this movement and say you are representing the best interests of the people. No! That’s not Pantherism – but I digress. Let’s stay on point.

As prisoners in Texas, we have to grab the bull by the horns and take control of our own destiny. Free world supporters can’t do this for us. They can help, but ultimately the grassroots organizing and effort must be done by us.

First, we must educate our family and friends in reference to the nature of the problem. We must show them the deception and illusion of this imaginary pay and fraudulent good time and work time credit system.

Truthfully, all Texas prisoners have to do is send their family and friends a print-out of their time slip. There are thousands of men and women trapped inside Texas prisons. They possess time slips which clearly show accrued flat time, good time and work time credit percentages which equal 100 percent of their current sentence or more!

Texas has built a system which has systematically weakened and destroyed inner city and urban communities. These communities have been targeted by the state and corporate entities for gentrification. The inhabitants of these communities are predominantly Black and Brown.

In Houston, Texas, we have even seen a school superintendent get in on “the action.” HISD Superintendent Terry Grier did all he could to weaken the schools in Houston that service Black and Brown inner city youth.

And when you deny people adequate access to quality education opportunities, you create conditions which push them into the waiting arms of the criminal justice system. Mr. Grier has announced his resignation. Let’s hope Houston chooses an HISD superintendent who will have a vested interested in our success.

So in a nutshell, TDCJ and the Board of Pardons and Paroles work in concert with capitalists in order to sabotage the self-determination of certain communities of color. What this amounts to is a not so subtle program of social control.

We want freedom!

What we are asking is that Texas prisoners have their families visit our Facebook pages and websites in order to see the information we have posted there which explains the issue in easy to understand terms and language. We have phone numbers of key Texas legislators available. What we are proposing is that prisoners encourage their family and friends to contact these legislators and urge them to craft legislation which will fix this fraudulent slave system.

The bottom line is this:

  • We want our good time and work time credits counted! Stop telling us you are counting them when you are not.
  • We want to be paid for our labor!
  • We want our right to vote restored.
  • Stop fudging the census numbers of the rural communities in which these prisons are located making it “look like” we are citizens when in reality we are slaves! Texas is “gaming the system,” making areas look like they have more constituents than they really have.

What benefits do we get? We’ve seen these games before. Texas loves to play with re-districting maps and the votes of disadvantaged minorities. Many people don’t see the connection between the Texas slave plantation system and the manipulation of the vote – I see it.

Solidarity is needed now!

There are approximately 150,000 prisoners housed in Texas prisons. If half of us can convince our loved ones to contact Texas representatives and senators in relation to this issue, we can make a significant impact. We need to start discussing this in the day rooms, on the rec yard, or while we are slaving in the fields or in these factories.

It is going to take all of us women and men. I’m not going to talk this issue to death; I’ve never been much of a “rapper.” I’m about that action! Are you about that action?

If you are serious about change, have your family visit or Look for Campaign to End Prison Slavery in Texas.

You see, comrades, I am not operating under any illusions. As I said at the beginning of this essay, some will be content with this slave-like existence; some won’t be content. Some may go tell the “boss man,” “That guy Malik is stirrin’ up trouble again, Boss!”

And, as always, the oppressors will do what they’ve always done – lock me up in solitary, transfer me, write bogus disciplinary reports, deny my parole or try to get some misguided street tribe members to assault me. I’ve been through all that and more. I am determined to improve our condition even if it kills me. For those of you who are sick and tired of being slaves, I ask that you help me End Prison Slavery in Texas Now!

I leave you with another quote from Comrade Fred Hampton:

“First of all, we say primarily that the priority of this struggle is class. That Marx and Lenin and Che Guevara and Mao Tse-Tung and anybody else that ever said or knew or practiced anything about revolution always said that a revolution is a class struggle. It was one class – the oppressed – against the other class, the oppressor. And it’s got to be a universal fact. Those that don’t admit to that are those that don’t want to get involved in revolution because they know as long as they’re dealing with a race thing, they’ll never be involved in a revolution. They can talk about numbers, they can hang you up in many, many ways.”[3]

So what will it be, a life of involuntary servitude, helping to sustain this slave system, or freedom building up your communities and supporting your families?

We have nothing to lose but our chains! Dare to struggle, dare to win, All power to the people!

Send our brother some love and light: Keith “Malik” Washington, 1487958, Coffield Unit, 2661 FM 2054, Tennessee Colony, TX 75884.

[1] Quoted in an April 8, 2014, Houston Chronicle story on a visit by racist eugenicist Charles Murray to Rice University

[2] Quoted in Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, “On the Questions of Race and Racism” (2006), at

[3] Quoted in Johnson, “On the Questions of Race and Racism”

Malik is our Texas Inside Coordinator for the Amend The 13th: Abolish Legal Slavery in Amerika Movement.