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To: Texas State Officials

Toxic Work Conditions in Texas Prisons

Petition Text

Hundreds of prisoners are at serious risk of being exposed to dangerous cancer-causing inhalants and fumes at the Texas Correctional Industries Metal Fabrication Plant at the H.H. Coffield Unit, in Tennessee Colony, Texas. Sign this petition to demand that Texas state officials provide immediate relief to the affected prisoners and to facilitate investigation by a body that's not part of the prison administration!

Why is this important?

Prisoners within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice are working, unpaid, in the TCI chemical plant without being issued the proper air-ventilated safety masks. In an open letter, TDCJ inmate David Martinez described the entire work area at the Coffield Unit’s Metal Fabrication Plant as having a faulty ventilation system. "It is not fully operational and does not protect prison workers or TCI employees from hazardous and toxic fumes that are put into the atmosphere by numerous projects like welding and painting," writes Martinez.

The Metal Fabrication Plant Manager and his staff have devised a “warning system” that TDCJ inmates are very familiar with, Martinez says — a warning system that gives the Metal Fabrication Plant Manager a “heads up” when any kind of inspector or auditor is at the front gate — allowing the prisoners and Texas Correctional Industry employees to shut down all activities deemed illegal and unsafe by the Fire Marshal or any other oversight Agency. The Metal Fabrication Plant is currently devising a plan for expansion, filling an order for 5,000 new storage lockers, Martinez adds, while there are no current plans to fix the plant’s ventilation system, nor to restock masks and safety equipment for the inmates who work there.

Many of the chemicals and substances used in the Coffield Unit’s Metal Fabrication Plant, and in many other units and plants throughout Texas, have clear warning labels that they have the potential to cause cancer. Martinez explains that Texas prisoners are being forced to work in a very dangerous environment and to engage in hazardous and illegal practices with no regard for their health or safety. "Many prisoners are afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation," Martinez reports. "Prisoners are threatened with disciplinary action if they [complain, refuse to work or] do not sign Material Safety Data Sheets (which give the 'appearance' that Texas prisoners are being given the proper training and safety equipment) in this very volatile and hazardous atmosphere."

David Martinez and thousands of other Texas prisoners need your immediate help and support! Sign this petition to demand that Texas state officials provide immediate relief to the affected prisoners and to facilitate investigation by a body that's not part of the prison administration

Reasons for signing

  • Because NO ONE should be forced to work under unsafe conditions without protection!
  • Justice is perverted when the criminals are punished inhumanely, regardless of the severity of their crimes. If it is not intentional, the excess poisonous exposure is negligent and will only embitter prisoners with the system. The external costs will balloon and bloat the system, and will systemically fail and thus fail to serve its purpose. Which is to make us safer... Which makes no sense. So, let's fix it. If for no other reason than it will save us all money. :(
  • This is a human rights violation.


2016-05-21 15:53:34 -0400

1,000 signatures reached

2016-05-21 14:52:53 -0400

500 signatures reached

2016-05-21 14:18:08 -0400

100 signatures reached

2016-05-21 14:10:26 -0400

50 signatures reached

2016-05-21 14:06:41 -0400

25 signatures reached

2016-04-22 16:49:46 -0400

10 signatures reached