Being Innocent Doesn’t Mean A Thing, when You’re Lowrence Bernal

By Jay Goodman

Once again, I was talking with my friend Lowrence Bernal, whom I just finished telling a story about. And as always, he will find himself in the damnedest of situations. Bernal is a good friend of mine, not many people like Bernal, staff or inmates, because he is very outspoken on certain issues.

Bernal is serving a 45-year sentence for murder, and has over 20 years in prison now. I have to take my hat off to Bernal, he is one of the few people I have seen that has stepped inside this prison system and really figured out that this is a criminal organization. He was telling me about a disciplinary report he just went to court for, and I wanted to use his case to once again show the corruption inside our prisons in Texas.

On 9-30-19 at 7:00 am Bernal was written a case. It says he failed to begin his work assignment without a legitimate reason. Now to someone who’s reading this and doesn’t understand how the Texas prisons operate, this case seems petty. But let me inform you that this is a very serious case. A Code 25 disciplinary case rank up there with attempting an inappropriate relationship with staff, soliciting money or gifts, recruiting membership in a gang, sexual misconduct, stealing, use or possession or distilling of alcohol, use or possession of intoxicating inhalants, extortion. That’s just to name a few. This type of disciplinary case is what we refer to, as a Superstar case meaning, “Major”. Now does this case mean anything to someone serving a 45-year aggravated sentence? No. It means about as much to Bernal as the average person not having butter for your popcorn. If you’re asking yourself, “Why is he brining this up?” The answer is simple. Because prison life is difficult enough without someone writing BS disciplinary cases and worse, falsifying state documentation to keep up a quota act implemented by none other than our Assistant Warden, Gonzales. Bernal and I, and multiple offenders, have been told by guards that our Asst. Warden Gonzales, has started the quota system once again. The guards are also being threatened for not writing these quota cases. Which are illegal, I might add. Of course, there are some guards more willing to write these fake cases, others though view it as more work because they are already underpaid.

So let’s review case 2020025748, shall we. I was called to the administration building in the afternoon and talked with Sergeant Jeremy R. Stanchos. He tells me officer Absy wrote me a case. It says offender Bernal #1022968 was asleep in his cell and refused to turn out for work. I asked Sgt. Stanchos, “what time does it say I was asleep?” He answered 7:00 am. I said, “you know count didn’t clear until after 7:30 am close to 8:00 am right?” So the Sgt. Asked me, what happened? I told him, I didn’t refuse to work, I just didn’t follow instructions from the 3 other offenders who weren’t doing anything. Sgt. Stanchos asked, “what were they doing?” “Nothing”, I replied. “You can show me how to work. You cannot tell me how to work”. Sgt. Stanchos then said, “you have to do what our officers tell you to do.” Sgt.’ Stanchos just shook his head and started writing my statement. Now this is a direct violation of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice policy.

Let’s review the Texas Offender Orientation Handbook. 2017 ed. Page 71. VII. Disciplinary Procedures and Rules. The disciplinary process is designed to modify offender behavior when necessary. A.) General Procedure Rule 1. Offenders in TDCJ are required to obey all rules and regulations either issued by TDCJI as those specific to their unit. If an offender violates a rule, he may be punished through the disciplinary process. For more information, see the TDCJ disciplinary Rules and Procedures for Offenders handbook (GR-106) More on this book and its contents very shortly. Rule 2. 0nce a rule violation has been noted, if it is not settled informally, the rule violation may be reported in the form of an offense report, (I-210). Rule 3. After an offense report has been written, the report shall be given a number and shall be graded major or minor. The offender shall be notified of the charges filed against him. Rule.4. A disciplinary hearing shall be conducted to decide whether or not the offender is guilty or not guilty (this never happens, you are always guilty) and, if guilty (when guilty), determine the punishment. Punishment is progressive and may fall in the following range depending on the seriousness of the offense. A.) Counsel and reprimand (only for snitches, punks, and home boys, wink, wink); B.)Loss of privileges, which include:(1)Being able to recreate (2)Buying things from the commissary (3)Watching TV 4)Having access to personal property (5)Having contact visits (6)Having access to the phones (7)Being restricted to your cell (8)doing extra work (9)Being placed in solitary confinement. Being placed in a lower time earning class. Bernal said, I am doing 45 agg., so I don’t get good time. What’s calculated on our time sheet doesn’t count towards anything. That’s just some of the nonsense TDCJ puts us through.

Now let’s review this TDCJ Disciplinary Rules and Procedures for offenders. GR-106 February 2015, Forward: It is policy of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to operate a swift and fair disciplinary process that embodies constitutional statutory standards. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure/Texas Penal Code. The Cr-106, Disciplinary Rules and Procedures for offenders establishes a uniform offender disciplinary process. AD-04.35,”Review of offender Disciplinary Actions” Supplements the disciplinary rules and procedures for offenders while outlining the available administrative sanctions that may be taken against an offender in the custody of the Parole Division. The goals of the offender disciplinary process are to: Maintain order and control of institutional safety, which are “Gestapo Tactics”. Ensure offenders are not disciplined unfairly (they really put this sentence here), Ensure the Constitutional rights are protected (what constitution are you referring to?) Modify offender behavior in a positive manner (beat a dog enough and it’ll mind); Maintain an official record of an offender’s disciplinary history, in order to preserve the integrity and fairness of the disciplinary process, the TDCJ shall ensure deleted or modified disciplinary actions shall result in correction of an offender record. (Nothing is ever deleted.) This plan is in compliance with Texas Government Code§493.001, 494.002, 499,102(a)(9) 493.005, 493.0051, 499,004. (Plan and execution are two different things.) Introduction offenders are required to follow the rules contained in the Offender Orientation Handbook and as posted by the unit. The disciplinary rules and procedures for offenders outlines the procedures for determining whether an offender violated a rule and consequences for such behavior. If an offender does not fully understand the disciplinary rules, he should consult a staff member for explanation.

Now let’s get to the root of what I’m trying to explain. Page 1, Disciplinary Procedures- I.) General Procedures. A.) Reporting Infraction-when a TDCJ employee witnesses or has knowledge of any act by an offender that is in violation of the rules of TDCJ, the employee first shall attempt, to resolve the matter informally. (This statement only applies in the magical place called, Never Ever Land.) Of course, this goes on to cite more of the Blah, Blah, Blah, TDCJ states we’re not going to do it this way, because it takes too much time. Now remember when TDCJ states they want to modify our behavior, it’s more like F--- you over. They process us with impunity. Don’t believe me, let’s look into this criminal enterprise. Anyone who violates a law is subject to punishment in a court of law. Except TDCJ officials and its employees; For instance, when officer Absy C.0: IV wrote this case he knew it was a false document. Was he disconcerted? Of course not. No one monitors the Texas prison system except the Texas prison system. Yet, through the Texas Penal Code section 37.10 Tampering with Government Records; (a) A person commits an offense if he: (2) makes, presents, or uses any record, document, or thing with knowledge of its falsity and with intent that it be taken as a genuine Governmental Record; (5) makes present, or uses a Governmental record with knowledge of its falsity. By writing a case against me for failing to turn out for work. Officer Absy knew that count didn’t clear until 7:30 am or a little later. Why is this time so important? It’s because TDCJ has a “No Movement Policy” during Counts. No one could open the door to let Bernal out to go to work until count had cleared, and everyone is accounted for. Before you say, maybe he didn’t know? Did I forget to mention that officer Absy was a sergeant who recently lost his position as sergeant. There is a little known section in the Texas Penal Code that’s never used by anyone. Section 39,04 violations of the civil rights of a person in custody: (a) An official of a Correctional Facility commits an offense if the person intentionally; (1) denies or impedes a person in custody in the exercise or enjoyment of my right, privilege, or immunity knowing his conduct is unlawful. Does officer Absy’s actions violate this law? Of course, it does, is he going to be punished? No. You have to realize that TDCJ and its employees are protected, not only by this corrupt system. But, by the District Attorneys and Judges of the counties they work and live in. Society will state: you broke the law. So, that’s not the question being asked. What’s being asked is the definition of rehabilitation? Take away a man’s humanity and what will you have left? The villain Bernal became, no emotions, no joy, no happiness, no pleasure, or pain. Fear is a distant memory described better in books, than in real life.

So, after Bernal’s case was printed he was given the option to waive his 24 hours, and if he wanted to attend the hearing or not. Bernal knows if it gets to this point you will always be found guilty. So, he told them to send his punishment in the mail. But imagine his surprise when they called him anyway. Both of Bernal’s coworkers go to court before him. Both plead not guilty, they’re both found guilty of course. Bernal’s turn. Lieutenant Washington asked for his statement. He told the Lt. to give him his time. Simple statement, or so he thought. He starts in on Bernal on how he has to work. Bernal has over 20 years flat done, with 25 more to go, told me, the sheer insanity of his statement took him by surprise.  Bernal said, “Look chief, if it’s gotten to this point you are not going against your officer. And besides, I did not disobey your officer.” Sergeant Brown pipes in with, “like we have to give you respite.” That statement told my friend all he needed to know. Bernal said, “your feelings are so hurt, because I utilize the Respite Program, that you use a BS case to retaliate against me?” This Sgt. Brown, tried to discourage people from going to Respite, so he would strip search everyone going and leaving. Bernal told Sgt. Brown, “you can keep stripping to and from respite, I’ve been naked in front of so many people during my 20 years, I could get naked on the 50-yard line at the Cowboys Stadium and do jumping jacks for the half time show.” So after being screwed over, along with Sergeant Brown’s code word of “Respite”. Bernal ended up with the harshest punishments. His coworkers received 5 days restriction, Bernal got 15 days of Recrestriction, and 15 days commissary. He is appealing the decision. But Asst. Warden Gonzales who implemented the quota system, will be the one who answers his Grievance. His general response will be, No evidence of staff misconduct, all procedures were followed. Think this happens with minor cases only? When major cases are given, you are allowed a counsel substitute. Which is like a lawyer. Do they advocate for us? Does a fox advocate for a chicken? During the hearing if you start to ask the captain about policy or violations of policy, he will interject the statement of, it’s not relevant. Which means, you don’t have a right to defend yourself against any statement made by the officer. No matter what, you’ll be found guilty, dropped down a line class, usual punishment, 45 days cell restriction, 45 days no contact visits, 45 days no commissary, and a year loss of good time. And possibly sent to medium custody, which is a form of isolation. That’s 6 months to a year. The Texas prison system is the poster child for the word, “dysfunctional”.

With all of the technology today you mean no one notices how much information the Texas prisons take out of the law libraries? Did anyone notice that we no longer have access to the Supreme Court Digest? Why is this important? If you don’t have the books to look through, how do you know what you’re looking for? Not only did TDCJ restrict our right during minor or major case hearings. They restricted our knowledge to defend ourselves from malicious prosecution. Where is the Original Grievance Manual? Replaced with a single sheet of paper that doesn’t inform you how to defend yourself. When does the federal government step in and investigate this system? It has the power to do that under the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Federal Coordination and Compliance Section-NWB. Remember they can investigate complaints of discrimination on this basis against Certain Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance from the U.S. Department of Justice (D0J). Can you say ACA Accreditation?

Anyone can look these cases up and see that Bernal Lowrence #1022968 who has a good institutional record was treated more harshly than his two coworkers. Jose Villele #1634953, case number #20200025813, and Josh Anthony Wooten #2072826, case number #202000225807. My friend not only received a fake disciplinary report, but was found guilty even though he proved count was not even clear. He also received a harsher punishment because Sergeant Brown stated it was retaliation for using Respite. Dirty Wardens like Gonzales, and dirty ranking officers like Brown use their positions to abuse everyone. And Nothing is being done about it. How many more men and women have to be abused before something gets done?

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