Power

By Jay Goodman

It’s crazy the way power goes to people’s heads. Throughout history, we’ve seen it in different forms and in places we might never imagine. We’ve seen it with rulers of large countries such as Russia and Germany. And it’s evident in the tiniest of nations. Look at what Fidel Castro has done to Cuba. Here was this wonderful island, sitting 90 miles off the coast of Florida. It could have been a gold mine to the islanders, attracting tourists from all over the world, like many of the island that surround it. But, because of this one man, Fidel Castro, Cuba has been stuck in time for over half a century. Castro could have blessed his people with prosperity, happiness and pride, but the power of his dictatorship went to his head, and instead of turning the island into something great, he froze it in time and left his people to starve. Leaders from all over the world tried to talk to Castro, but his power made him think, “Who are these people, trying to tell me how to run my island?”

It doesn’t have to be people with positions like “supreme dictator” who fall into this trap. We’ve also seen how people who run large corporations take advantage of their staff or manipulate the market just because they had the power to do so. And because virtually everyone has a camera on their phone these days, we are starting to see how even our local police officers, the very ones whose job it is to “serve and protect” our communities, have run amuck with their little slice of power. So whether it’s someone that is the leader of a country, a corporation, or a local police officer, power seems to affect them all - each from a different walk of life.

In my writings, I’ve talked about how the Puppet Masters have used their power to manipulate, control, and abuse the prisoners and use us as their personal slaves. Now, however, I want to show everyone how they use this power and abuse their own co-workers. When I wrote about the quota system at the Ramsey Unit, I showed how all of the ranking officers and the warden, all these people, were abusing their power. They told the guards, “If you do not do what we tell you, we will write disciplinary cases against YOU!” Now, there are guards who work here, and many of them are dirty, but there are good ones, too. And these know that to write inmates cases without trying to verbally resolve the problem is not right. But, their superiors threaten them, which is against their own policy, and they force the GUARDS to break the rules and policy. Let’s look at their rules. In the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures for Offenders handbook, Document GR-106, Section I.A. on page 1 states:

When a TDCJ, Windham, or contract employee witnesses of has knowledge of any act by an offender that is in violation of the rules and regulations of the TDCJ, the employee first shall attempt, if appropriate, to resolve the matter informally.

The very first rule in their book tells them that guards should try and resolve all situations verbally and informally, BEFORE writing a case or calling a supervisor. But they don’t, and this behavior has occurred time immemorial at every prison in the state. That’s why they had those 500 disciplinary cases they had to throw out. And when, they do that true audit of all the prisons, like I said before, there’ll be thousands and tens of thousands of cases to throw out.

I have seen guards at this prison get used up like a piece of toilet paper by the people in power. Sometimes, it’s so obvious even the inmates can see what’s going on. There have also been times the ones in power even brag about what they are doing to their charges, like it’s funny.

Let me take on inside the mind of a major we had here some years back. His name was Jackson. When I arrived at the Stevenson Unit in 2009, Major Jackson was still only a captain. He strolled into my cell block one day and began talking to some prisoners sitting at the table next to mine. After “chopping it up” with them for a few minutes, he told them, “I came here for one reason and one reason only: to fuck all the bitches I can.” I thought he was crazy to say this to a bunch of prisoners, but then he said that we inmates needed to be careful, because if any of “my ho’s” write us a case, we would ALWAYS be found guilty. One of the men he was talking to said, “What if it’s a bullshit case, and you know it’s no good?” He said, “That don’t matter - if it’s a bad case or not. I’m gonna’ keep my women happy. It’s easier to get embedded that way.”

How he ever made CAPTAIN, I’ll never know, but the Puppetmasters saw real potential in him, and this idiot eventually became the major of our unit. He stood true to his word. Every day, we would see him escorting one the women staff down the sidewalk, or sticking his head in the commissary window, talking to one of the many women who worked in there while we stood in the summer sun, waiting for our turn to get our little shopping list and go back to our cells. It’s very rare you see a warden or a major in the living areas, but Major Jackson could be seen all the time going into the picket to talk to female officers. I’ve told you that a lot of the people who work on these Texas prison units are related to other employees. Well, some of these women would tell their husbands, who also worked here, and these men would get on his ass, but he just thought it was funny.

Another trick he enjoyed was waiting for an inmate to ask a question of a teacher, a clerk in classification, or a female officer, then he would run up in his face and start screaming, “What are you doing talking to my women?” He felt it made him look like he was protecting them. A lot of the women would look at him like he was a sexist jerk and then ask us later, “What was his problem?” Some even told us flat out that they would get the creeps when he came around.

Many female officers told us that they would reject his sexual harrassment, and then he would mistreat them by working them in places that nobody likes to work. For instance, there is a shack at “West Turnout”, separating J-5 from the other buildings. It’s known as the “dog house” in here. In the heat of summer, he’d assign the women who rejected him to that duty post, because it had no air conditioning, while all of the women who gave in and slept with him would be assigned duty posts in education, medical or administration - all of which had climate control, of course. If the women persisted in resisting, he would laugh and say he’d make sure they’d get fired. “They’re either going to put out, or GET put out.”

Now, some of these women who slept with him, they felt like they could treat the inmates anyway they wanted to treat them, because Major Jackson would let them get away with whatever they wanted to do. Allow me to show you the madness of this situation. Some of the women would say, “Don’t screw with me. I’ll write you up for whatever I feel like, and you know it’ll go through, because the major is backing me, no matter what.” Talk about a crazy predicament We have a man who is head of security, as all majors are, and he was nothing but a predator. He used his position of power to manipulate every single woman he could to have sex with him, then these women would get upset with an inmate, for any stupid reason, and write them a major case. Now, guess who the Disciplinary Hearing Officer is on a major case? That’s right, then-Captain Jackson, the Stevenson Unit predator. Talk about running a corrupt prison.

This went on for years and years. What could we do? Write a grievance? Hell, he was probably sleeping with her, too. And I can’t begin to tell you people how many false cases these guards started writing, and of course, when it was a major case, the inmate would appear in “court” before then-Captain Jackson.

Finally, one of the women said enough was enough, and she reported this sick son of a bitch. The other women who’d had to endure years of this animal trying to sexually assault them lined up one after another and reported what he had been doing to them all along. It’s funny how things can turn around on someone, because all this time, one of his favorite lines to use on inmates when he was strutting around trying to make himself look important in some woman’s eyes was, “Hey! What the fuck are you sex offenders doing talking to MY women?” He always said this clueless about whether the offender was really a sex offender or not, but there he was, shouting this crap out, when all the while HE was the predator. And the whole time, he was working as a high-level supervisor for the TDCJ. And even though his reign of terror finally came to an end, the damage was already done. The women he’d been sleeping with had written thousands of cases. There are no telling how many of these prisoners would miss parole opportunities because of this one man.

There was one woman that worked in our commissary who had a husband and kids. Her husband left her after her tryst with Jackson came out. I’ve since wondered how many other families were destroyed during this time. I wondered if these things ever bothered him, but I’m sure he never gave a damn about his own wife and kids, much less the lives of other damaged families.

As I talked about at the beginning of this chapter, it’s really crazy how a position of power goes to a person’s head. Whether it’s the guards setting up inmates, or just writing silly cases on prisoners they don’t like personally, it just stinks. Maybe the rank is enforcing an illegal quota on case writing even though they know better. Maybe, it’s a warden like that thief Beard trying to cover his ass. Maybe it’s a sex offending supervisor using bravado and intimidation to cover up his tracks. The Texas prison system is full of these types of people. Nothing ever happens to them. The Puppet Masters allow them to resign or retire, and they are capable of coming back to work after the clouds blow over.

As a matter of fact, there is a lieutenant working here on the Stevenson Unit right now who used his position to take advantage of several women. When it was discovered, they took his lieutenant bars, but let him keep working right here on the unit busted back to a CO.

Now, what do the other ranking officers think when they see something like that? That’s right. They think, “Nothing is ever going to happen to me, no matter what I do.” And it seems like they are absolutely right to feel that way. So, they keep using their power and position to screw over the prisoners, and to screw over each other.

And my question remains, when will someone have the courage to use THEIR power to put a stop to all this and to bring real, meaningful change to the staff and prisoners of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice?

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