URGENT CALL FOR SUPPORT: Political Prisoner Alvaro Luna Hernandez Facing Censorship and Threats to Cut Off Mail Correspondence

URGENT CALL FOR SUPPORT: Political Prisoner Alvaro Luna Hernandez Facing Censorship and Threats to Cut Off Mail Correspondence

Texas political prisoner ALVARO LUNA HERNANDEZ needs mobilized support and solidarity to protest the unlawful censorship of his mail by HUGHES UNIT prisoncrats and mailroom officials. Because of Alvaro’s persistent criticism of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and because of his insistence on having his First Amendment Rights respected, Hughes Unit mailroom officials are now threatening to place supporters of Alvaro on a “negative mail” list to be censored/blocked from correspondence with him. Already, Hughes Unit, among other prisons, has a de facto policy of obstructing legal publications such as Prison Legal News for the purpose of keeping prisoners powerless against abuses. This is a major attack on the rights of political prisoners and must be dealt with swiftly by all freedom and justice loving people. If we fail to respond to these attacks then we are simply paving the way for more repression. Alvaro deserves our solidarity and support!

Make phone calls to Hughes Unit and the TDCJ and tell them what you think: 254-865-6663 and 1-800-535-0283
Please send letters of protest to Hughes Unit Warden Edward Smith and express the following:

Edward Smith
Hughes Unit Senior Warden
Route 2, Box 4400
Gatesville, TX 76597

Dear Warden Smith:

I am writing to you to express serious concerns regarding possible violations of inmates’ constitutional rights at Hughes Unit prison by mailroom officials.
On 18 February 2011, Alvaro Luna Hernandez (TDCJ-CIN #255735) was denied the right to receive a book, Defying the Tomb, sent to him by the publisher, Inside Out Books, on the grounds that pages 112-113, and 120-121 of the book violated prison mail rules because the said pages were allegedly “construed and written solely for the purpose of communicating information designed to achieve the breakdown of prisons through offender disruption, such as strikes, riots or security threat activity….” (TDCJ Denial Notification Form, 2/18/11).

However, within a matter of several days, Inside Out Books mailed Mr. Hernandez actual copies of the said pages, which were received by Mr. Hernandez without incident or restriction, illustrating the arbitrary and unjust nature of the original censorship of the book. Moreover, the said pages did not at all bear resemblance to the initial claims made by mailroom officials. Additionally, Inside Out Books was never served with a “notice of denial of publication”—an inaction which is a flagrant violation of federal law.

Worse yet, in response to Mr. Hernandez’s filed complaint, Mailroom Supervisor, G. VANDIVER threatened further First Amendment violations against Mr. Hernandez, noting that his correspondents may “be put on a negative mail list” ostensibly as retaliation for Mr. Hernandez’s criticism of mailroom policies, and more broadly, his continued human rights activism directed at enforcing the constitutional rights of prisoners.

I strongly urge you to conduct an investigation into this matter, and to swiftly terminate mailroom officials Y. MCDONALD and G. VANDIVER for their egregious incompetence and for the malicious and unlawful threats issued against Mr. Hernandez for exercise of his First Amendment Rights.

I trust you will ensure that inmates’ constitutional rights are upheld and that any and all recalcitrant and unprofessional employees of the TDCJ and Hughes Unit in particular are dealt with accordingly. I will continue to follow this case and am confident in your commitment to carry out your duties in accordance with all state and federal laws.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,
(signature)

PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:

Brad Livingston
Executive Director, TDCJ
3009A Highway 30 West
Huntsville, TX 77340
936-437-4271

TDCJ Office of Inspector General
P.O. Box 4003
Huntsville, TX 77342
936-437-8035
fax: 936-437-8067
email: ombudsman@tdcj.state.tx.us

CID Ombudsman Office
P.O. Box 99
Huntsville, TX 77342
936-437-6791
fax: 936-436-6669
email: ci.div@tdcj.state.tx.us

Reagan Duncan
Access to Courts Dept.
Program Supervisor II,
2405 Ave. I, Suite J
Huntsville, TX 77340
936-437-5374

TDCJ Director’s Review Committee
P.O. Box 99
Huntsville, TX 77342

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