Shitty Situation

By Jay Goodman

Throughout history in the Texas prison system, the prisoners have been used for everything you can imagine. I’ve written a lot about these things in some of my previous chapters, but the Stevenson Unit in Cuero, TX has experienced some very difficult situations. Over the last three months, they have been very challenging for both the staff and the inmate. As I have said over and over again, just when I believe things could not get any crazier than usual, they never fail to show me different. I have mentioned about how the Texas prisoners are used to take care of everything, the maintenance and general workings of the prison system all over. If something needs repairing, no matter if it’s a lawn mower, ice machine, state vehicle, construction or plumbing, there are inmates for the job. The Puppet Masters have it set up this way because they sure don’t want to dig into any of the money that they’ve stolen or are planning to steal. That would be a sin. They do hire free world maintenance workers, but from what I’ve seen, they are not smart enough to build a dog house.

I mean let’s be honest for a minute, what qualified plumber or electrician, making great salaries, would come to work here taking one hell of a pay cut. Most of these schlemiels barely make enough for microwave mac-n-cheese four nights a week. The employees of the Texas prison-system get paid once a month. I imagine once the Puppet Masters steal all they can for the month, they do at least throw their dogs a few scraps from the table to keep them alive. I do think they sit back and laugh hysterically as they write their checks out. Anyway, the people that are hired to work maintenance are basically hired to walk around with the inmates who are assigned with maintenance jobs and watch them do whatever needs to be done. Really, they don’t even do that, most of the time these “employees” sit back in the dayroom watching t.v. with the rest of the inmates or in the guard picket gossiping with the CO’s. Most prisons have inmates that can handle small issues like a leak, or stopped up toilet, but there are times when a serious problem arises that requires a person with a little experience who knows what the hell they’re doing. This unit has had the opportunity of experiencing those types of situations a few times this past summer.

Let me start with our first nightmare. A few months ago around the 7th of August, the water was cut off. At first, the staff said there was a pipe that had busted and it would be several hours before the maintenance workers could get it dug up. Well, the inmates began digging, hours passed by so they finally brought out a backhoe. Once the inmate on the backhoe starts he accidentally busted another pipe. So here we go on day two with no water. The temperature was roughly one-hundred two, with a heat index of one-hundred fourteen, in the cell blocks over one-hundred twenty. We have a ten-gallon water cooler for drinking water and ice. With the water shut off a water truck was brought in finally later that evening. As they started filling our water coolers, needless to say, prisoners are thirsty, so the cooler was emptied in a matter of minutes, there are 84 men in my cell block. Now begins day three.

By now we have gone without showers for three days and are unable to flush our toilets. There are 42 cells with one toilet each, plus one in the day room that has been defecated and urinated in for these three days. I am sure you all reading this can only imagine how awful it smelled. We also had been eating “Johnny sacks” which is comprised of one peanut butter sandwich, one mini box of cereal and around five prunes. Lunch and dinner of course we pot the T.D.C.J. classic bologna sandwich and peanut butter sandwich, again. By the time 1-2 o’clock rolled around we were informed the water would be back on soon. Everyone begin thanking God. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for our joy to abruptly come to an end. Yes, they did repair the pipe and yes the water was turned back on. But, our genius maintenance workers that the state has so proudly hired, opened up all of the water lines to the buildings at the same time. So, let me enlighten you all to the consequence of this genius action.

In the four buildings, each have three cell blocks. Each cell block contains forty-two cells. Each cell has one toilet plus one in the dayroom. One building has one-hundred twenty-nine, times four buildings is five-hundred sixteen. In the cubicle dorms, there are roughly forty more toilets. This is well over five-hundred and fifty toilets flushing all at the same time. Three days of feces and urine build up makes a man very anxious to get it down the commode as quickly as possible. It took about one minute to stop-up the bar screen in the sewer pipes, leaving all of the waste with nowhere to go. Three days of excrement come gushing back up the drains and toilets, even out of the shower stalls. Within two minutes our entire first row was ankle deep with, for a lack of hatter words to describe it, shit.

The odor was so horrible inmates started getting sick. All of the officers were on their radios yelling at these idiots to turn off the water. The manholes on the rec yards looked as though someone had struck oil, sewage was blowing out the tops of them. By the time they did get the water back off the damage had been done. Even the 20 or so feline residents we have here started climbing fences trying to get the hell out.

Let’s take a look at the aftermath of this nightmare. Each cell block has one push broom, one mop and one bucket to use to clean all this up with. My friend Bowleg and I just stood there in disbelief. He said that the maintenance crew were supposed to turn the water on building by building to control the drainage flow. At this time the water was up around our ankles. We looked around the dayroom and to our surprise a lot of the inmates who were blown out of their minds high on K-2, just sat there at the tables gambling, oblivious to the deluge of human waste. We got the push broom and started at my cell pushing the water out while he kept mopping. We would fill the mop bucket up in just a matter of minutes. Since we couldn’t pour it down the drains, we had to haul the bucket outside to dump it. This went on for hours and hours. With the heat index well into the one-hundred twenty-degree mark in the buildings, the smell was absolutely horrible. It was so bad we could hardly breathe.

My friend Bowleg is 59, I’m 54 and had no drinking water for close on seven hours. Each time we would take out a mop bucket full we would ask for water, but none was brought in. By six o’clock we did get the worst of the mess cleaned up. By this time through a lot of the inmates were becoming sick, eyes starting burning and throats became sore. Then they called us down to the chow hall for the ever so popular bologna and peanut butter sandwiches.

A little after dark they slowly got the water situation under control and we finally were able to get a shower. Now for the next adventure that happened a little over a week ago. One of the same main pipes busted again right outside the back gate. Water started shooting up as high as the perimeter fences. The Warden then calls for another water truck to be brought in, which arrived early the next morning. Our genius maintenance supervisors arrive looking like they had just fell out of a bottle of cheap tequila. They went and rounded up the inmate slaves and the digging commences. They dig and dig and still can’t seem to find the leak. By day two the cesspool returns again with the ghastly odor choking everyone. By day three people began defecating in chip bags and throwing them out of their cell windows. Finally, the staff decided to bring in a few trash cans full of water to pour into the toilets to try and push some of the waste down. Even though it did help a little, the gases are still coming out of the toxic toilets. They came back with the backhoe again, this time they didn’t bust another water pipe, BUT, they did take out a gas line. Now they had to stop work on the water and fix the gas line before they blew the place up. On day four they used some sense and brought in some port-a-potties, but they only put out seven per rec yard. Two buildings share a rec yard. So roughly five-hundred ten inmates are sharing seven outhouses. Prisoners began calling home and family members started calling into Huntsville, who mind you, are not even aware of what’s going on down here. They get the gas line repaired and on his way out the backhoe driver almost takes out a power line pole with a transformer atop it. At this, they finally decide to hire someone who is a professional, imagine that.

Once again our feline friends started climbing the fences, they had enough, hell they were just getting over the last awful experience. I’m not sure if it was the cats leaving or the aromatic scent of raw shit in the air that made these people finally decide to call in the professionals. But, thank God someone figured out that our tequila guzzling maintenance men were unable to do the job. Yet, our troubles were not over. Within the first day to day and a half, the outhouses overfilled, I do mean pouring over the top. Only then did the administration call the company to come and empty them. I guess the Puppet Masters were pretty pissed off by now because of all the money going out on water trucks and outhouses and the maintenance professionals. The last thing they want to do is pay for all of this chaos. So what if a few people get sick from toxic human waste. It’s no big deal if a few die, hell it’s alright if a few PD’s get sick, they call in sick all the time, let’s give them something to really make them sick...ha ha ha ha! Who’s laughing now? Got a little staph, or what you’re glowing in the dark? Well, we’re sorry to hear that, but can you come in for some overtime this weekend?

With all honesty, the Puppet Masters do not care if we live or die. We are only one thing to them, slaves. We are here to line their pockets with money. The inmates are expendable assets with more and more on the way.

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