THE WAR ON TERRELL

I’d like to take you into the 1990’s now, showing you some of the things that occurred in the Texas prison system. Not much had really changed from the chaos of the 80’s except that the TDCJ was finally taking steps to lock up the gang leaders in seg, but there were still hundreds, if not thousands, of “soldiers”, low-level gang members, throughout the prison system in general population. However, the heads of each gang were still able to control what was happening out in population with their soldiers. This is what they would do: If someone in seg wanted to set something up like a drug deal or a “hit”, he simply wrote down what he wanted done on a piece of paper, and he’d pass it off to one of the general population inmates who would work in the seg area as a custodian. (The TDCJ calls these inmates S.S.I.’s, but I haven’t found anyone who knows what that stands for, even among the administrators.) This SSI would pass it to the designated recipient on the outside of seg, usually someone belonging to the same gang. Prisoners call thisa “kite”. The inmates who “run the kites” get well paid, by the way, but they aren’t the only channels of communication. Most gangs have certain dirty officers who work all over the prison, some in seg. This was handy for passing the information directly, as you didn’t have to trust an inmate who might not belong to your gang. Believe it or not, this happens a lot more than you would think.

Remember that I said Texas was building all these new units all over the state. At this time, the prison population jumped from 50,000 to 100,000 in record time. For a moment, I’d like to focus on just one of these units, the Terrell. When this unit opened, the TDCJ sent prisoners from all over the state to populate the prison. As the buses started coming in and everyone entered their living area, they got quite a surprise. Keeping in mind that these units are built of steel and concrete, there were glass coke bottles’ laying around all over the place, and in each bottle were dozens of welding rods. The builders would put the rods in the bottle with water to cool them off. Now, to you folks on the street, a welding rod is just a used up piece of junk, but to a gang member, a welding rod is a long, sharp shank. As these dudes came walking in the dorms, the gang bangers started grabbing all these welding rods, and there are soldiers from every gang you can think of from all over the state.

I told you before about the 1980’s. Texas could have stopped the gang war that was going on, and they exercise a thousand excuses as to why they let it continue- why they didn’t do anything to stop it. But I’ve pointed out how simply they could have solved the whole problem just by looking at the tattoos these guys were wearing and separating them according to their gang affiliation. All of these stabbings and killings could have been stopped immediately. And they did nothing.

By the 1990’s, of course, the TDCJ was well-aware of what the hell was going on, but instead of taking meaningful action to stop the killing, this is what they did: They took all these different gang members from all over the state, they put them on the chain to this brand-spanking-new prison they’ve just opened up in East Texas called the Terrell, and they stick them all together in one place. Oh, and let’s not forget the wonderful welcoming gift they left for our new arrivals, a lifetime supply of shanks complete with storage case. How sweet of the Puppetmasters to supply every single thug with a nice, pointy piece of metal for their own personal use.

Your first reaction, like mine, might be to think, These people are f---ing retarded. But that would be a gross mistake. Don’t think for one second that these people are stupid, or that they make mistakes like this. This is no accident. These people did (and do) this stuff on purpose, because it serves their agenda for the TDCJ. They use the terror and insecurity this scenario creates to keep the inmates in line, and to sell their “tough on crime” agenda to the innocent citizens who don’t know it was a set-up from the get go.

To be honest, a lot of these gang bangers were scared, because they ride in on the bus with all these other gang members. Unlike the Puppetmasters’ who are turning a blind eye, these prisoners’ lives depend on them being aware of what is going on around them, and they can see for themselves that all these other guys have rival gang tattoos from all over the state, and all of a sudden, here they are, not on the same bus, and not in the same unit, but in the very same cell-block with someone they know wants to kill them. And the Puppetmasters want us to believe they didn’t know what was going to happen? Excuse me, but, uh... BULLSHIT! How could they NOT know? They set up this same scenario, playing out over and over again all over the state.

I know how this sounds, but sometimes, I can’t help but believe they have a room somewhere where they all get together to meet and decide our fate, and that fate is always based on enslaving, stealing from, and using the inmate to take care of their every need. And if they can’t get that, well then, just kill ‘em.

Anyway, whether you believe them or not, the stabbing and the killing began. The Terrell Unit was insane. Everyday, all day, they were fighting throughout the whole prison. I can’t begin to relate the madness. There was killing in the dayroom, stabbing in the rec yard, fighting in every corner of the prison. There were full-blown riots, and they happened all the time. People would be chased down the runs by rivals carrying shanks or clubs. There were stabbings every day. If you went anywhere, you only went in a group with friends to be sure that you were less likely to get jumped or thrown off a tier. Dudes were running up in the cells when the doors rolled and then sticking their enemies 30 or 40 times. All across the unit, the war was on. Things were so bad, that they finally had to station an ambulance at the back gate and keep it there 24 hours a day. You probably can’t even imagine a place filled with so much physical violence that they had to be ready to rush someone to the emergency room at any time of the day or night. The numbers of killing were staggering, and what was being done to put a stop to it? Nothing, of course. The Puppetmasters understood from the beginning what was going to happen, and it was all part of their response to the Ruiz lawsuit and its fallout.

But, here it is, a decade later. And still, these people are putting together these men that they know are sworn, mortal enemies in the same cell-block together. They no longer have the excuse that they didn’t know what could happen, or what WAS happening, because it was playing out before their very eyes, and had been for some time.

Can I just tell you that as I sit here and write about this, I fight hard with my anger? I think about all those poor people who lost their lives- thrown off tiers, stabbed. People were blinded. People lost limbs. People were beat so badly that they’ll never have the same mental capabilities they had when coming to prison- permanent brain damage. There were so many deaths at the Terrell Unit that it got attention from one of the “Big 3” network news stations. Connie Chung showed up with her CBS news crews, and finally, FINALLY, the Puppetmasters step in and start doing something. I’ll tell you more about that later.

her sad thing about the Terrell Unit is that there were people sent there for petty crimes like shoplifting charges that had been enhanced by priors, and they end up becoming murderers, just so they themselves could survive. There was a man, Germo Garcia, went to the Terrell with a 4-year sentence. Now, he is doing a life sentence for murder, because he defended himself from an attack by killing his assailant. This place became the deadliest prison in the state. New guys would come in on the bus, and the officers would say, “Welcome to hell, gentlemen! You’ve probably heard how bad it is around here, and you better believe every word of it is true!” The whole time they’re saying this, they’re laughing and making jokes about watching them squirm when the shank goes in. This is funny stuff to them. These are the people whose only job is to protect the public safety.

I often wonder how many murders would be the breaking point. Is it two, or five, or ten? How many have to die before the warden or the other administrators say, “We have lost control of this situation. Lock this prison down, so we can solve this deadly problem we’ve got here.” Why didn’t they? Because it played out exactly like the Puppetmasters wanted it to. It went exactly according to plan.

I need you to know that many of the new prisons they built in the 90’s became killing fields. There were also other places like the Connelly and McConnell where people were being stabbed, beat and killed at an alarming rate. These were not isolated incidents, and since the Puppetmasters knew this, I hope it gives you some idea how sadistic and cruel these people truly are. There was more than a decade of this shit, and instead of looking at the tats, and sorting these people out so they’d be safe- or at least amongst their own dangerous brothers- they just shuffled them like a deck of cards and fiddled while Rome burned.

What are they going to say, that they didn’t have enough room? Please! I mean there’s 111 prisons, and a lot of the different gangs are break-offs from other gangs, and they still get along well enough that they could be housed together. There’s no telling how many lives could have been saved, or how many more would be walking around today with both eyes, both arms, no limp, no screwed up mentality from the violence they witnessed.

The ruth is, all along, they knew exactly how to stop the madness if they’d wanted to, and that is what makes it the darkest black mark in Texas history. It would have been bad enough if all the carnage occurred anyway, but the fact they could have stopped it anytime makes it so much worse.

More than that, how can any TDCJ guard working for the system look at the history, look at these facts, and not consider what the Puppetmasters think of them? They allowed all that shit for years, and so many guards got caught up in the violence, stabbed and killed right along with the inmates. What do they think of this? Are they just collateral damage? It is truly sickening isn’t it?

When you take a good hard look at the truth, it’s easy to see that these people don’t want rehabilitated prisoners. Instead, they want to turn an already troubled man or woman into a hopeless, broken slave with no will of their own.The TDCJ motto ought to be, “Lasciate ognisperanza, voi ch’entrat.” Leave behind all hope, you who enter.

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