Prison journalist Jason Walker reports on the continuing practice by guards of staging “gladiator fights” between rival groups of prisoners.
As prison guards had the door of D-Pod Cell 203 opened, the body of a prisoner, who appeared to be Hispanic or white, fell over by the entrance; a large pool of blood ran out of the door, dripping down to the first tier.
It was like a scene directly out of a scary movie. Lying in his own blood bath while his cellmate slept, this prisoner, bound to the confines of isolation, tried to remove himself from this reality because of its overbearing torturous conditions and degeneration of the mind. He’d never openly contemplated committing suicide; even his own cellmate didn’t have a clue.
On the night of Feb 17, 2019, around 9:10 p.m., this unknown prisoner waited for his cellmate to fall asleep before cutting the main vein in his arm, putting his green jacket on, then sitting by the door so he could bleed out uninterrupted. I actually saw him put his jacket on and sit down. I assumed the substance by the door was shower water. There was too much to suspect blood, plus the cell was pitch black. He seemed to be cleaning.
Prison guards can’t be credited for having the half-dead man removed from the cell. Rather the credit should be given to his cellie, who happened to wake up to use the restroom. Instead of calling for medical assistance, the two pod guards waited for another guard to bring a wheelchair. It never arrived so the other occupant in the cell grabbed a sock and tied it around the bleeding arm. This was nearly 20 minutes after I saw the man sit down and five minutes after the call was made.
He was eventually pulled from the cell and made to wobble to the infirmary, beyond medical staff’s knowledge.
During my previous seven years living in environments such as the Clements Unit, it felt like I’d seen more suicide attempts (several successful) and prisoner death cover-ups than I’d seen my own reflection. This by far is the most bloody and gruesome, surpassing Clements Unit prisoner Todd Hines, who tried to cut his face off, by a long shot.1 And it is probably the most emotionally impacting, as I was reminded that I was sent here for a bogus staff assault case – and that this, and a lot more, is what awaits me.
During my first two weeks in two-man cell solitary (close custody) here at the Allred Unit, I woke up to see an unconscious Black prisoner, who’d tried hanging himself, being pushed on a gurney past my cell. The condition of these two prisoners is unknown.
The cause and effect of inaction
In environments where evil is being practiced, there are the evildoers, the victims, the survivors, and those witnessing everything. Very rarely are prison staff the victims, and in situations where they do obtain this role, it was because the entire event and written reports were fabricated by them, their subordinates, and high-ranking staff, like a major or warden. And you also have those prisoners and staff who pretend not to have seen or heard anything out of fear or reprisals or just to so-called “keep it real” – or because they dislike the abused.
It is not the evildoers in prison settings that make the environment a hazardous place to live, but those who are aware that these acts are taking place yet do nothing to stop them.
During the 1990s, the Corcoran prison in California became infamous for its “gladiator fights” that took place in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) section of the prison. There, guards would set up fights between prisoners, bet on the outcome, and in some cases gun down the fighters as if they were restoring order from a riot, much like how the losing dog or cock in a fight is killed after its owner loses the bet.
Corcoran isn’t the only prison where such events have taken place; here in Texas at the Allred Unit, gladiator fights are the norm and ironically no bets are being made, the only requirement is that the duelers be non-white prisoners and blood is shed. Other than that, the fighters are forced to stay in the cell and fight until the observing guard is satisfied.
In the three gladiator fights I’ve seen in this SHU-equivalent environment, the victims were instigated and forced to fight, even when they didn’t want to.
On Feb. 24, 2019, around 11:15 a.m., prisoners David Morales #1588442 and Brandon Miner #1749081 had an altercation and decided it would be best if one or the other moved to another cell. Miner contacted the D-Pod officer and explained that if he or Morales wasn’t moved he’d “beat his ass.”
Sgt Bright, a fat racist slob, came to their cell and said he wanted to see them fight. If a move was to be made, he wouldn’t do it until he saw lots of blood.
Miner stated that he wanted to fight but Morales was unwilling. Bright instructed Morales to get off his bunk and fight. When Morales refused, Bright told Miner to attack Morales, and that he would then take care of their problem.
Miner refused to attack Morales, so Bright stood by their door, coaxing Miner into fighting. “I was on my bunk. The sergeant made me come down to fight or he wasn’t going to do anything about our situation. I had one foot on the stool and one on the toilet when my cellie took off on me,” Morales explained in a note he sent me.
I watched Bright and a slim white guard who came with him look in the cell staring as bangs and rumbles slammed against my wall. No effort was made to stop the fight, Bright even had a big smile on his face that vanished when the fight stopped. Bright became irritated that they wouldn’t continue, and even commented so.
He turned to the other guard, then imitated what he saw, mockingly. He declared both to be “pussies” for not mauling or stabbing each other, and patiently waited for an encore. Miner was removed from the cell and taken to another pod. Neither were evaluated by a medical staff member.
Morales did mention that Miner had just come out of a coma after an incident where he had been stabbed by a Hispanic prisoner at the Ferguson Unit and that Miner was having nightmares and flashbacks and wasn’t supposed to be housed with Hispanic cellmates.
David Morales provided this affidavit as evidence of the “gladiator fight” he was forced into.
More gladiator fight attempts
On Feb. 14, 2019, several white guards made an effort to get me in the gladiator octagon, but I didn’t bite. An extremely mentally ill prisoner named Raheem Drummond was abruptly moved from D-202 cell to my cell, D-208. He was half my size, I was almost twice his age of 22 years. We weren’t supposed to be together.
He immediately began hearing voices and chattering violent slogans of wanting to kill women and children and commit rape. Guards kept walking by, looking in, and telling others that no conflict seemed to be brewing. He even mentioned having a lust to sexually assault me.
Despite his condition, we posed no threat to one another, and after an hour or so he relaxed and settled down. I heard one guard tell another that we were getting along, and to move Raheem back to D-202 but put “the Hispanic” in the cell with me.
Raheem was given another cellmate, and less than 24 hours later guards were able to stage the fight. They pranced around D-202 cell, falsely stating that Raheem had been parading naked in the cell with an erect penis while his cellie slept. Witnesses say this wasn’t true.
Raheem’s cellie eventually had heard enough; then a fight broke out. It was during dinner time, so the pod guards stopped feeding to watch the fight. Several other guards came to watch. No effort was made to break it up. Once both were too tired to go on, they were removed from the cell and separated.
This evil is just a drop in the bucket of things going on at the Allred Unit. It has an anonymous way it operates, and isn’t bound to the same rules of conduct like the other TDCJ prisons. The wardens are aware these things are going on, and are complicit with its many secrets.
Prisoners such as me pose a threat to their torture program, so I’m asking that readers keep an eye on the day-to-day practices of this prison and demand that an oversight committee investigate the suicide attempts and gladiator fights teeming in the high-security buildings.
Dare to struggle, dare to win! All power to the people!
Send our brother some love and light: Jason Renard Walker, 1532092, Allred Unit, 2101 FM 369 N, Iowa Park, TX 76367.
How we can help
Jason Renard Walker has become a first rate investigative journalist as he courageously documents and reports one atrocity after another. Of course, guards and prison administrators constantly retaliate. So supporters have set up the “Civil Rights Defense Fund for Jason Walker” at https://www.gofundme.com/f/civil-rights-defense-fund-for-jason-walker. Please donate as generously as you can. Learn more at https://instagram.com/p/Bu0Ajwch77F/.
This story was previously published by the San Francisco Bay View, readers who find it useful and want to make sure the paper edition can continue reaching prisoners can donate here.