Death Penalty and Death Row in USA

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Do prison authorities deceive the inmates?

This is a transcript of a letter I sent to the governor in Texas
After that follows a transcript of the Inmate Griveance (from Martin) and the IOC mentioned in the letter
Governor George W. Bush
Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711
August 17, 1997


I am writing you because I find the following information hard to believe.

I have been informed that the inmates on Ellis Unit 1, Death Row are no longer allowed to send their memory typewriters out of prison to be repaired, or even to get parts for them so they can repair them themselves.

I have also been informed that some of the inmates have bought these machines through the unit commissary, with the reasonable expectation that they could have them repaired if they broke down later. The machines were bought at a price of $270, all of which seems to be lost if my information is correct.

As I see it, this also means that the inmates in question have their possibilities to contribute to the work with their own cases drastically reduced - unless they have the money ready for a new typewriter, which I seriously doubt they do.

I am sure that you agree with me that even inmates on Death Row are entitled to a minimum of decent treatment, including the right not to be cheated on by the authorities.

I therefor hope that you can tell me that this is the result of an administrative error.

I enclose copies of an Inmate Grievance about the question and an TDCJ-ID IOC concerning the question.


Niels Graverholt

October 2,1997

Niels Graverholt

TDCJ-ID#000878 - Ellis Unit/Deathrow

Dear Mr. Graverholt:

Your letter to Governor George Bush was forwarded to the TDCJ-Institutional Division Ombudsman for review and response.

In your letter, you indicate that Offender Draughon has had problems with his "typewriter", and has requested to have it repaired. Actually, Offender Draughon had a word processor, instead of a typewriter.

Word processors are a great convenience, but became a security problem. We had offenders organizing strikes and uprisings and running gambling operations using their word processórs. Unlike paper files, they could not be searched without the cooperation ofthe subject. Additionally, the word processors had . proven a little hard to maintain, they were designed for use in air conditioned buildings, and probably for less use than our offender users put them to.

There is no right to possess typewriters or word processors in prison. We were under no duty to make them available in the first place. Offenders maintain them in their possession by permission ofthe prison managers, and that permission can be withdrawn at anytime. We are not happy when offenders who misuse opportunities, thereby make life a little less convenient for offenders who properly use those opportunities, like the use of a word processor.
We could have ordered them taken up or sent home, but we appreciated the sacrifices involved in obtaining them in the first place. As a compromise, we let those offenders who already had them continue to keep them until they needed repair. When they are in need ofrepair, the offender has the option ofeither having them sent home a■ the offender's expense or, having the word processor destroyed.

Safety and security of both offenders and employees is the number one priority of the TDCJ-Institutional Division. As stated earlier, the word processors became a security risk. I hope this information provides clarity for you on this issue.


Kathy Cleere
Offce of the Ombudsman

cc; File

The following is a transcript from the grievance form with Martin's grievance and the warden's 'answer'.

I am grieving the January 23, 1996 I.O.C. [WP POLICY] regarding no longer allowing repairs to the memory typewriters, and I am asking that I be allowed to send mine out to the Smith Corona Service Store to be repaired and/or buy the part and repair it myself.

I legally bought this PWP 2500 through the unit commissary, with the understanding that if it broke down it could be repaired and I could continue using it.
The issuance of this WP POLICY plainly means this I was deceived into buying the memory type writer because of buying something that, unknown to me at the time of purchase, would have to be thrown away once it needed repairs.
Not only this, but because I am I am a death sentenced prisoner and I have on-going capital appeals -- very timely and critical appeals -- denying me to repair and continuing to use my memory typewriter is restricting and impeding my access to the courts.

You are forcing upon me only two methods of accessing the courts;
1-- pen and paper or perhaps a manual electric typewriter, which both are very slow and places an unreasonable hardship on me when I must make at least 8 copies of each document that must be filed with the courts;
or 2-- the other very expensive method of access to the courts which is to hire counsel to do everything for me.

You force upon me either one extreme or the other, but leave no middle ground that is accessible and still affordable to me, which is denying and impeding my access to the courts.

I request that you amend or vacate the January 23, 1996 WP POLICY so that I can have my memory typewriter repaired and so that in the future, when my memory typewriter need repair, I can receive and use it after it is repaired providing that I pay all expenses for shipping through the mail and if I pay all applicable charges.

Martin Draughon, July 22, 1997
WARDEN'S Decision and Reason

This does not meet the criteria for an emergency grievance and was processed as a regular grievance.
With respect to the issue of memory typewriters, we will not respond. You have exhausted your administrative remedies on this issue.

Jul 28, 1997

The following is a transcript from the IOC which caused the trouble



TO:    See distribution DATE:           January 23, 1996
FROM: Gary Johnson - Director, TDCJ-ID
             Tom Baker - Director, State Jails
SUBJECT: Inmate typewriters

Effective February 1, 1996, the word processors with memory capabilities will no longer be available in the Unit comissaries. This is due to a large number of repairs that was being experienced with their use. Correcting electronic typewriters will be sold in the commissaries for inmate/confinee use.

For those inmates/confinees who are still using the word processors, as those machines break down they will no longer be repaired and it will be up to the inmate/confinee as to whether the equipment is sent home at his/her expense or destroyed (pursuant to AD-03.72).

Please insure all inmates/confinees are notified of this change by posting this notice at each comissary.