A senseless death in a Texas prison

June 5, 2008

Rob Will is a Texas death row prisoner and member of the DRIVE (Death Row Inner-communalist Vanguard Engagement) Movement, which engages in nonviolent, direct action protest to fight for better conditions on death row and in opposition to capital punishment. He wrote the following letter on May 20.

WE'RE ON emergency lockdown because a general population prisoner was murdered on the unit yesterday. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice tries very hard to keep information like this from reaching the public, so I felt the need to write a quick update.

I don't know all of the details, but I do know that a prisoner was beaten to death yesterday, supposedly by another prisoner. It happened in one of the general population dorms. Interestingly--or perhaps I should say sadly--enough, yesterday was also the birthday of Malcom X.

It's absolutely absurd that the prison system is structured in such a way as to make people worse after they enter prison. People come to prison for nonviolent offenses--the majority of people in prison are there for drug cases--and are forced to be violent to survive. The structure of prison promotes violence. I've seen officers crank up fights between inmates and bet donuts on who would win.

I'll wait until I find out exactly what happened before I make any further comments. I will, however, close with a thought: The staff members control the daily operations of the prison system. The state and federal government--through the dictates of politicians (senators, governments, etc.)--control the overall structure of prisons.

What you can do

For more information about Rob Will's case, go to the Free Rob Will Web site. To learn more about the politics and actions of the DRIVE Movement on Texas's death row, visit the DRIVE Movement Web site.

If, for example, a nonviolent drug user is sent to prison for repeated possession charges (he just likes to get high for whatever reason, but he's never hurt anyone), he's thrown into an environment that turns him into a fucking maniac.

Who's to blame? This question is actually a very deep one, and I won't delve into the depths of it at this time. But again, I ask, who is to blame?
Rob Will, Livingston, Texas

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