Might Is Right?

By Jay Goodman

In my last chapter, I spoke about my time at the Estelle Unit and some of the abuses of the elderly and the mistreatment of prisoners that were sick or dying, and now I want everyone to know that these were not isolated incidents. Similar abuses go on at every prison in one form or another.

I am here on the Stevenson Unit, one of the “better” units in the state, but even here, there have been horrible things done to prisoners. I am going to talk about some of them.

First, upon my arrival here at the Stevenson nine years ago, I went through my classification and received my job assignment. Then I was moved to my cell block. My first night here, I was told of a prisoner that was here on this unit before I came. When he went in front of classification to receive HIS job assignment, the prisoner told the committee, “If you try and put me in the fields outside the fence, I am going to run, and you will have to kill me.”

Now, let me point out to the people reading this something that’s very important, and hopefully it will give you some idea of the madness of the people charged with running this thing. The classification committee consists of one person from the classification division, the major, and one of the wardens. These three people are the top dogs of our prison. These three people run and control each and every unit in the state where they are assigned to work. No matter which prison an inmate goes to, he or she will go in front of these three people soon after they arrive on the unit. They will speak to each prisoner about his case, medical history, prior disciplinary if he has any, and many other things. Then, taking all this into account, they will decide what job the prisoner will receive and where to place them inside the institution itself.

Now that everyone understands who sits in on this committee, wouldn’t you think that after someone straight up tells them that if they put them in the fields, they WILL run away and they will have to kill him, that they would take that very seriously? Wouldn’t they either put him in to speak with a psychiatrist or at least give him a different job assignment as a precaution to keep this from happening? Their own policy is that if anyone so much as comments about escape, they are to be put straight into isolation until an investigation into the seriousness and possibility of such an escape attempt can be completed. They didn’t follow this policy. What do you think they did? Yes, straight to the fields he went. They were daring this guy to commit suicide.

The next day, the field bosses take this man outside the fence to work and, sure enough, he takes off running. They shot the man to death. The prison system uses deadly force to ensure that nobody escapes regardless of their crime or length of sentence. I understand this. It wouldn’t be practical to check an inmate’s record as he’s running away across the fields, would it? But this case is so much different, because the prisoner told them what his intentions were from the outset, so the warden and the major KNEW without any doubt that this man had some mental issues. If a prisoner says, “I want to die,” he or she will be put immediately into isolation until they are evaluated to see if they are a threat to themselves or others. If so, they will be shipped to another prison, so they can get some treatment. In this case, though, they sent this man straight to his death.

Sometimes, I’ve wondered if the warden and the major sat off at a distance just so they could watch this man be killed. I wonder if they had a wager whether or not he’d do it. Every policy and system put in place by the Texas prison system in regards to someone threatening to take their own life or escape was ignored. In my mind, these people are guilty of nothing short of murder, since they were told by this prisoner what his intentions were, and they sent him out anyway.

Of course, they never got in any trouble over this, but why would they? I mean the Puppetmasters put people like these two idiots in charge all over the state. There are all kinds of rules and policies for the guards’ and inmates’ safety that are put in place on paper, but truthfully, it means nothing because almost every single prison is being run by people like this major and this warden. It’s so far out of control that I know it will never be fixed from within. Sooner or later, the federal government will have to come back in and take control to fire or force-retire all of these people who’ve been in the system since the Ruiz days.

If you think this was bad, let me now take you to my next story. There was a young kid, in his twenties, assigned to this unit. It was his first time in prison. He was given a job working in the boiler room which is located in an isolated part of the unit, away from sight lines to normal inmate or officer traffic. Almost all of the prisoners that I’ve spoken with through the years really like this job, because they work alone and it is so rare to get any time in here to yourself. Anyway, this kid told us he was in the boiler room when a lieutenant and the gang intelligence sergeant showed up. Needless to say, the sergeant has a lot of power on any prison. He can easily wreck your life with a charge of gang activity. Let me show you what this man did with his power.

The sergeant went to the boiler room later and started a conversation with the kid. He asked him, “Are you tired?” When the kid said, “Eh, a little tired,” the sergeant told him to sit down and rest a little. He handed him a soda he had brought with him. The kid told us later he thought this was all very strange - this sergeant who had never spoken was suddenly being so friendly. Anyway, the kid took the soda and sat down in the chair. He opened the drink and took a sip. The sergeant then walked behind the chair where the kid sat, and he began to rub his shoulders and neck. When he did this, the kid tried to get up, but the sergeant pulled him back into the chair. The boy said, “Hey! You’re not supposed to be touching me like this.” The sergeant responded, “There’s nobody here but you and me. Just relax. No one is going to see us.” A million things were running through this kid’s head, but he figured his only option at this point was to wait and see what happened. After a couple of minutes of rubbing his shoulders, the sergeant stopped, but continued to stand behind the chair. The kid said that when he looked over his shoulder, this sergeant had pulled his pants down and was rubbing himself. The kid jumps up and said, “What the fuck are you doing?” The sergeant became angry and aggressive. He started yelling, “Look here, you punk. I’ll break this broom handle and say you attacked me with it. Who do you think they’ll believe, huh? Me or you? Of course, then I’ll have to gas your ass and press charges on you, and then you get extra time stacked on top of this run. And how would you like to get shipped off to some place where they’ll rape your ass day and night?”

The sergeant saw that the kid was truly scared, and he took hold of him and sexually assaulted him. When he was through, he took the kid over to the sink and made him wash his whole body and change his clothes. He took the clothes he’d been wearing and put them in a plastic bag. Then the sergeant tells him, “Don’t worry. I can look out for you and make your life on this farm real easy. I can bring you free world food to eat. But if you say anything, I’ll tell them it’s a lie, and who are they going to believe? Keep quiet and things will go easy.”

Now this went on for weeks and weeks. Remember, there were no phones in those days, so basically his options were not good. If he tried to tell some ranking officer, they would more than likely lock him up in isolation for what they love to say is an “investigation”. And they’ll do one, but here’s how it works.

The rank, or maybe the major or warden, would speak to him. Then they would speak to the sergeant who raped him, and then the sergeant lies and says, “This kid must be nuts.” Everyone believes the sergeant, because they’ve known him for years, and they’ve never seen him act like this in front of them, right? So administration goes back to the kid and tells him he’s a liar, and they start to make his life miserable any way they can. On top of this, the sergeant can make good on his threat, and the kid’s life goes from bad to worse. Stuff like this happens all the time in here.

Even if the investigators believe the prisoner, they don’t try and take care of it. Instead, they try and sweep it under the rug. They won’t side with the prisoner unless it gets out of their control and they have no alternative.

Can you imagine how this kid must have felt? Here it’s his first time in prison for some stupid dope charge, and he’s being repeatedly raped by the ones who are supposed to be protecting him. He finally decided he would talk with another, older man who also worked in the boiler room on an alternate day. The man’s name was Mack. When the kid told Mack what had been happening, they came up with a plan together. Mack brough the kid a new handkerchief at the commissary and told him, “The next time he comes to assault you, try and get some of his semen on, this handkerchief.” He then told him to put it in a bag to preserve it for the investigators so he couldn’t lie his way out of it.

The next time the sergeant came to assault him, the kid did get some of his semen on the handkerchief and he put it in the plastic bag and hid it where it would be safe. Soon after, Mack’s wife came to visit him, and he had her call the kid’s parents and told them it was an emergency, and they needed to go visit their son in prison.

The next weekend, when his Mom and Dad show up, the kid tells them what has been happening. Of course, they were upset. In fact, the mom and the kid had to calm the dad down so he wouldn’t get himself arrested. The kid tells them to go call the Office of the Inspector General when they leave and tell them what has been going on.

The next day, the police came, and after weeks of being sexually assaulted by this prison guard, the kid was able to tell someone who he could trust and was able to help him. After he explained everything to the police officer, the cop said, “It’s not that I don’t believe you, but can you tell me something about this guard’s private area or body that can verify your story?” That’s when the kid told them about the handkerchief. The officer called the warden in and told him what was happening. The warden asked where it was hidden, but the officer said, “Don’t worry about that. I’ll get it myself.”

So, the police, the warden, and the kid are headed to the boiler room, and guess who shows up? Yes. The sergeant. He asked if they needed his help with anything. The warden said no, and told him to go wait outside his office, and he would be there shortly. They proceeded to the boiler room where the kid retrieved the handkerchief for the police. The officer told them that he’d get the hanky to a crime lab immediately. The kid went back to the cell block, and the officer asked the sergeant if he would submit to a DNA test. He said he would. A few days later, it’s on the news that the Inspector General has arrested a Stevenson Unit guard for sexual assault over a period of months. That same day, administration came and got the kid, and we never saw him again. And that’s how it works with the TDCJ. If something happens between a prisoner and staff member, the prisoner, will get locked up and shipped. They say it’s for safety reasons, even though it was an officer doing the assaulting. But this happens every day, throughout the system, and it’s covered up all the time. It’s the Puppetmaster's’ world, and it’s broken and corrupt, beyond repair.

 

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez