A Few Good People

By Jay Goodman

I can remember the day I arrived at the Texas Department of criminal Justice. It was over 100°, I mean it was on fire! Around 50 of us left to Houston County Jail around five in the morning, and when I got off to Garza West around noon, we could hardly breathe inside our bus. All of the windows have steel plates over them, needless to say there’s no AC, no fans, it was like riding in an oven. After we got there I was surprised to find out that every one of them that worked at this prison seem to know who I was. You see I was called the gentleman bank robber, and during the time I was going to court for my many robberies, I was on the news, so the people who worked at the Garza unit already knew who I was. But because of the plug Bliss city of my cases I was put in isolation in what’s called the West building. It was behind two doors, the first had to be key open, and the second was open from the control picket. Once I got inside the cell, both doors were shut, and immediately I could feel the heat, and not long after work I began having trouble breathing. Not long after I was in this cell a lady showed up to have me sign some papers, when the doors were open and she felt how hot it was she said “my God, can you breathe in here?” I said, “barely.” She was a ranking officer, and when I was done signing her paperwork, she had a guard put a large floor fan on the cat walk behind my cell, so it would blow through the screen. My cell was still hot but what a difference it made to have some air blowing and circulating inside my cell. Who knows this one lady who obviously cared might’ve saved my life that day. It was the first act of kindness I seen in the Texas prison system.

I have written a lot about disregard the Texas prisons have for human life, I have also talked a lot about all the corruption going on throughout the entire state. But along my path I have also seen and met some very good people. And I believe it’s only fair that I write about some of these officers.

After I left the Garza unit, I was transferred to my first ID unit to begin serving my 30-year sentence. The prison was called the Wynn unit, and it’s located in Huntsville. The wind is a maximum-security prison, I believe it’s around 100 years old. The cells are very small, and most don’t even have a desk to write letters or draw.

A lot of prisoners there are used to be on death row, but when the country done away with the death penalty in the 1970s, all of the inmate sentences were changed to life without parole. Most of the inmates at the Wynn are doing a lot of time, so it’s a very serious unit. Most of the staff there have no business working at a prison, and it’s flooded with drugs and cell phones. I went to the gym one day and not long after Rex started I saw a man chasing someone around the handball court stabbing him. By the time the guard arrived I could see the man who got stabbed was in bad shape, he had been stabbed in the neck and was bleeding really bad. I noticed that none of the officers were trying to do anything, in fact, I saw a few of them laughing. Another prisoner try to put his shirt on his neck to stop the bleeding, but was told by a guard to get away from him. A ranking officer showed up by the name of Miss Vargas, soon as she saw the prisoner on the court she took a T-shirt from another prisoner in God on her knees and tried to stop, or at least slow down, the blood this man was losing. With medical arrived and this inmate was placed on a stretcher, Miss Vargas kept holding the T-shirt on his neck while they took him to the infirmary. As they walked past me, I saw Miss Vargas had tears in her eyes. I looked around the gym and all of the other guards laughing or joking about what has happened. I’m sure it was because of Miss Vargas actions that day that this person ever lived. That selfless acts of kindness has always stuck out in my memory. I was eventually moved to the Stevenson unit in 2009 where I would spend the next 11 years straight.

There is a lot of good people who worked there, yes. It is a Texas prison system and it has its share of idiots like any other TDCJ unit. But I must admit I did see some really good-hearted people as well. My first day I met the property lady named Miss Wilis. Miss Willis, after spending almost 5 years in maximum-security, where it seemed like their job was to hate, hate, hate. Meeting Miss Wilis was a breath of fresh air. The moment she began talking to me, as she searched my property. It was easy to see the goodness in her. I told her most of my property was still at the other unit and she immediately called the other person and ask them to send my property soon as they could. I would know Miss Wilis for the next 11 years, I watched become a ranking officer and I would have to say she’s probably one of the very best I ever saw during my 15 1/2 years of incarceration.

I remember when my mother passed, I was struggling emotionally, Miss Wilis stopped me one day and we talked about her for a good while, she will never know or understand how much I appreciate that day. Once again that selfless act of kindness has always stuck out in my memory.

There is a Texas prison policy that says if an inmate has a heart attack, or for whatever reason stops breathing, none of the guards or ranking officers are allowed to give CPR. When I heard this policy I could not help but think imagine that. When I asked about this policy I was told it was for tech them from a lawsuit. But once again there will always be a guard who sticks out from the rest.

When K2 hit the Texas prison system a lot of pressures never realized how strong the stuff was. I saw many prisoners pass out, or experience loss of movement, where they were unable to move or speak. I saw several inmates that died from this stuff. There was a female guard that had recently started the Stevenson unit, for the life of me, I cannot remember her name. But, she had only started the Stevenson unit a month or two before K2 had shown up. Anyway, one night as the guards were doing count this lady and another guard found an inmate passed out in his cell floor not able to respond to their questions. They immediately Called for a ranking officer but by the time they showed up this inmate was now turning blue, because he stopped breathing. I saw this lady get down and start giving this man CPR, the ranking officer had radioed for the main building to call for an ambulance, and had told this lady to stop giving this prisoner CPR, which to my surprise she ignored. By the time the paramedics arrived this prisoner was breathing again. This guy would’ve surely died that night, but because of this lady who cared more for human life then prison policy, he got another chance at life. Once again it also shows the Difference in the Texas Department of criminal Justice employees thinking. One was ready to let a human being die right in front of him, because of policy, and one understood policy is important for the daily institution control of prison life. But nothing is more important than a human being’s life.

My first day at the Stevenson unit was my soapbox commissary day, that morning I heard a lot of prisoners complaining about a guard he was working. The way they were talking one would think this lady was a demon. Her name was Ms. Ware. That morning I asked her how she was going to do commissary, from the benches, or by cells? When she said by cells, I thanked her and went back to my cell to draw. Around an hour later my cell door open and there was Ms. Ware. “Goodman, do you still want to go to commissary?” “Yes,” I said. She gave me a signed slip and let me go first. I was surprised, but I learned over the next 10 years something about Ms. Ware, that for some reason others could not figure out. Ms. Ware, was really good people. Don’t leave nothing on the benches or tables, give her respect when you talk to her, and she won’t ever bother you. In fact, Ms. Ware Would go out of her way to help you. I also have the opportunity to see Miss Ware go to her first Catholic retreat, and saw her transformation as she grew closer to God. Miss Ware always greeted me with a hello Goodman, and a smile. I can always see God in her eyes, and I will always be grateful that God brought our paths together.

I also want to thank the following officers for the acts of kindness, Miss Claybrook always showed understanding, if she could she was always willing to help. Mr. Holtz, truly a good man, who saw how corrupt the people in administration were. Miss Hernandez in the law library, thank you for showing compassion to me when my mother died. Ms. Maciel in classification your goodness always showed and your willingness to always help the prisoners. Mr. Laura, you started off a little slow but your work ethic grew in your drive to learn and become more in life made you a better man. Keep reading. Mr. Flores, Miss V, Misty, Miss Arradondo, Miss Hoss, Miss Gail, Ms. Tupa, Miss King in medical, all are good people. If I forgot anyone, I’m sorry. But I wanted to show in this book that I don’t just think ill of all the people who work in the Texas prison system. I see a lot of good men and women there. A lot of these people told me how the Puppetmasters have tried to manipulate them into their way of thinking. So, for the special men and women I’ve talked about in this chapter, I know there are good things in life waiting for you.

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