To The Ranking Officers

By: Jay Goodman

In my Previous chapter I talked a little about the Texas prison system Correctional officers 1-5 or shift guards. Now I will say a few things about the ranking officers. Rank consists of a Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain and a Major. Then above them are the Assistant Warden and the Warden. These ranking officers are put in place to make sure the day to day functions of the prison run as they should. The Sgt. and Lt.'s job is to go to each building at the beginning of their shift and check to see if protocall is running accordingly, and take log of each shift check. Their position is higher than the guards or CO 1-5, so it is necessary for them to oversee the CO's and get them running smoothly. They are also in charge of the disciplinary process. If a prisoner is written a case the Sgt. will call them to the Administration office or Line Building and get a statement about what the reason for the infraction is. After that, the Mjr. will decide if the conduct report will go major or minor. If it's a major case, it is usually for fighting, drug usage/possession, drinking alcohol/possession or something to that effect. These are considered serious meaning they usually get the inmate locked up, loss of commissary, recreation, and visitation privileges and possible loss of good time credits. If it is a minor case the inmate will go in front of the Lt. and if convicted get loss of commissary, recreation and visitation privileges or cell restriction. The Cpt. will receive the major cases for review.

As with the grievance system, I feel that the cases are set up against the inmates. Don't get me wrong, most of the time the inmates are guilty, but when the Cpt. or Lt. understands the disciplinary report to be something bogus or should be thrown out, they will still continue to find the inmate guilty and press punishment. What I find to be unnecessary is the ranking officer will tell the inmate he knows the case is bullshit, but will not go against his officer's word. When the CO's realize the ranking officers will side with them no matter what, it opens the door for them to abuse the prisoners by writting false or apparently ridiculous reports. It also allows for the Rank to use the "Quota Act" as I have already mentioned in a previous chapter. That's where the CO's are suppossed to write a quota of two cases per day. The need for ranking officers is important for the overseeing of the prison, sadly to say much of the time these positions are abused terribly affecting negatively not only the inmates but the guards as well. There is an old saying that goes: "The power has gone to their head." Which is one of the truest statements I've ever heard.

I have previously stated that Texas went from a few dozen prisons to well over one hundred back at the beginning of the 1990's. The Puppetmasters did not take into account where they would get enough qualified individuals to fill all of the positions in over one hundred prisons. They were forced to hire kids not even of age to purchase alcohol yet, men and women so old they look like they have come from the nursing home, gang members and let's not forget the Africans and Nigerians who can barely speak English, definitely not well enough to be in the least bit understood. The Texas prison system takes equal opportunity employment to a completely new level. To make the situation worse sometimes these unqualified men and women become ranking officers. With all of the chaos hiring these types of people have caused, can you imagine what chaos ensues when they become Rank? To become a great leader you must first be a great follower. If you are not a great follower, how can you learn to be a leader?

As aforementioned with the CO's, a lot of them usually let their emotions do their thinking. A person who is a great leader can tell the difference between emotional thinking and that of logical thinking. I have heard ranking officers get upset and say, "Look at what I have to deal with each day, if you had to deal with these idiots you would be mad too." Yes, I will give them this much, here at this prison they are dealing with alot of madness. Both from prisoners and their subordinates. I also understand it is stressful and at times overwhelming, but this is where you must learn to not let your emotions take control and direct your actions. You have already acknowledged you are dealing with idiots, so you are fully aware of the situation around you. Wouldn't it be a good idea to use your right thinking to deal with these problems? When you take the position of Ranking Officer, it's time to accept responsibility and do things just and correctly, even if it means going against your fellow officers. If you see they are doing wrong, against an inmate, prison employees or blatantly breaking the law, it's your duty to do the right thing. Through the years I've heard some of the ranking officials say when confronted with the truth shout another officers lying, that they don't care if he or she was lying, my officers are always right. So now they have allowed this guard to make them not only liars, but law breakers. Anytime it is known that a CO has falsified a report, and is allowed to take action, this is one or several laws that have been broken.

I am sure that anyone who holds a position of Rank who might be reading this will say that inmates lie, this is very true. The difference between me and you is that I can admit that, while on the other hand most of these ranking officers will not.

What about the inmates that are staying out of trouble and out of the way just trying to go home? There is without a doubt those inmates that never cause any problems, but you the ranking officers are just as willing to screw these individuals over just like the ones that are breaking rules. It's an odd thing to say that some of these Rank, when they were just regular CO's would stay out of the way, were very laid back and even seemed to understand our position and realized what a lot of prisoners have to go through on a daily basis. Once they gained that position of authority, became someone totally different. I understand the authority brings more responsibility, but it should never cause you to change into someone else. If other ranking officers expect you to lie, cheat and abuse other human beings, is becoming a ranking officer really worth it? It's really amazed me throughout the years to see how far a man or woman is willing to go just to keep their position. I've seen these guys plot with each other to set up inmates, or even send one of their "buddies" out to do their dirty work. This isn't something that just goes against Texas prison policy, but it's against the law. Of course, these people will have a thousand reasons to justify why they do such things. In all honesty though there is absolutely no reason to mistreat another human being, especially to bully someone with your position of higher authority.

This isn't something that happens at one prison or specifically the one I'm at now, this happens at every place I've been to. I have often wondered why this abuse has been allowed to go on for so long at all of these prisons. Part of the reason is, of course, is the quality of men and women Texas has had to hire to keep their precious industry up and running. I do believe also that the Puppetmasters have learned that there is a big plus to having these unqualified ranking officers. One, there is always discord amongst themselves, and naturally, when leaders cannot get along, the rest of the place falls to shit. The Puppetmasters know these types of people are easier to manipulate to use for their agenda. If they had a decent amount of intelligent workers here, they would be more likely to report all of the abuses that have been going on all of this time in the Texas prison system. It would be much more apparent to these people of all of the stealing that goes on in here also. It's much easier for the Puppetmasters to sell the idiots a donkey, even though it's a ten-ton elephant that's standing right in front of them. They convince them it's a special rare breed donkey that all of them must have, even though there's a pile of shit the size of a house behind the "donkey".

These ranking officers are not only subject to the inmates to carry out their demise. It happens all of the time with a lot of the CO's. If the guard is new and doesn't fit in the way they like, Rank will start writing them up for any little thing that they can, either forcing them to quit or getting them fired. What I'm talking about here is not some occasional happenings, this happens almost every single day. At the unit I'm at now this type of behavior has been allowed to continue for so long that the ranking officers here are well known to do as they please to inmates and CO's alike. A continuous cycle of power of position abuse. It is getting worse here due to more and more unqualified people taking these positions.

Life consists of choices. These choices will have a big impact on your future. To all of the ranking officials who partake in this abusiveness, do you really believe the choices that you are making today are the right choices for your future? You might be thinking, what does this guy know? You might be comfortable with yourselves because you've gotten away with this type of behavior that nothing will ever happen. Remember, things are going to change, they always do. In the past 8-10 years, a lot has happened in penitentiary reform. Much has been brought to light from the treatment of inmates, the living conditions, prisoner abuses and lawsuits. Wardens demoted, Mjrs and Cpts. fired and/or indicted. Everything is slowly starting to surface. You have taken on a very important position as a ranking officer, and I suggest you take an honest look at what you allow to transpire under your watch.

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