Building Behemoth by Jay Goodman

As the 1980’s came to an end, Texas by now, was one of the most violent prson systems in our country. Every day, people were being stabbed or killed. Inmates’ families were calling Huntsville and Austin, demanding answers from elected and governor-appointed officials, but everyone seemed powerless to do anything to stop, the carnage. Exasperated, they finally turned to the prison officials that, had run the TDCJ as plantations for so many years. And this is exactly what the Puppetmasters wanted. Their answer to the “problems” that they themselves had created, was to make the system even bigger.

The Puppetmasters were pissed at the federal court for coming into their business, pissed at the inmates for uniting during the Ruiz trial, and especially pissed that their ability to pillage the coffers of the prison system at will was being infringed. So, towards the end of the decade, TDCJ officials sat down with the heads of the Texas Syndicate and the Mexican Mafia and tried to come up with some kind of solution to stop the madness. They naturally should have been doing this years before, but the violence had played well into their desires for the future of the prison system. They hadn’t wanted (and still don’t want) change, but it had been thrust upon them, and now they were going to get some payback.

They’d controlled the prisoners in the past with their turnkeys, clubbing and beating, work from sunup to sundown. And they’d been totally unaccountable. A prisoner would ask a legitimate question, and all of a sudden, he was a troublemaker, and needed to be put in his place- especially if the question was about something the Puppetmasters were doing that was illegal. “Why’s that truck pulling up to the back docks in the middle of the night and making off with all those cases of meat?” “If you say inmate Smith was shot while trying to escape, why’d we see three of your own officers escorting him outside the gates last night?” “If prisoner Jones fell down the stairs like you say, why did the coroner find cracks in his skull consistent with being clubbed in the head?”

Now, since they’d lost the turnkeys, the Puppetmasters started planning their next way to control the situation. One thing they saw through Ruiz was that the leaders of the gangs could unite and organize their followers. Also, they had to do something about prisoners like Ruiz, who had showed he could get them put in front of a federal judge like William Wayne Justice. You’ll recall I told you about how almost all gang members have a tattoo on their body that identifies which gang they belong to. So, it was easy for the TDCJ to identify who was who, and they finally started confirming all the gang members.

They also put the leaders in isolation. It soon became apparent in the 1990’s, though, that the TDCJ was going to need a lot more of their isolation cells to house all the gang members. That’s when they came up with the idea to build what they called high-security super segregation units. And it was also when Ann Richards became governor of Texas. This ushered in the biggest boom of prison- building this nation has ever seen. I mean, Texas had maybe a few dozen prisons at best, but it goes up to 111! It was crazy! Did people think that there all-of-a-sudden was a 100% or 200% increase in the number of people who needed to go to prison? Surely not. I think most people back then never understood why this was happening. Give me a minute, and I’ll explain why, because, I assure you, the Puppetmasters ALWAYS have a reason for everything they do.

In this instance, they had to get a piece of the pie. There were huge amounts of money going back and forth to build all these new units. The Puppetmasters took advantage of this to dole out construction contracts to their family members and friends in order to get kickbacks. They’d say, “Hey, these new-fangled prison units cost this much to build. Do you think you can come in under that amount?” And naturally, their conspirators would tell them they could, and now they could pocket the difference. I imagine the Puppetmasters felt shortchanged by what had happened to them in the 80’s and were trying to make up for lost income by stealing. And, I have to give them credit. These are no small-time crooks. No, siree. These guys think BIG. And we know it’s true, because there were some who got caught and got into trouble.

Now, let me change course for just a second here and tell you about how one of these new units was laid out. I can’t pass up this opportunity to give you a laugh. (Of course, I wasn’t laughing when I was living through it!)

One of these new units was a receiving unit called the Holiday. A receiving unit is where they intake men from the county jails who are TDCJ bound. After initial processing, I was taken to a 54-man dorm. I put the few belongings they gave me on my bed, and looked around to go to the bathroom. The first thing I saw was where the toilet was. Picture this. There are three or four rows of benches sitting in front of two televisions, mounted on a wall. Directly behind and a little to the side of the TV is a line of toilets. There’s no pony wall, curtain or anything. TV and toilets. If that’s not bad enough, there’s a shower stall right beyond the toilet. Guess what? The shower stall doesn’t have a door or a curtain, either. So here a man sits on the crapper with his profile presented for the entertainment of all the TV watchers, 20 or 30 guys sitting there, and this you have this guy in the shower stall on the other side of you, not arms length away, soaping up his junk. So, you finally get finished on the toilet, and here comes the million dollar questions “Do I wipe my ass toward the TV area, or should I wipe my ass toward this naked guy soaping up on the other side of me?”

Now, seriously, I want to ask you a question. Why do you think anybody in their right mind would design and build something laid out like that? Do you think it was a mistake? Hell, no, it wasn’t a mistake. They paid thousands of dollars to have the blueprints drawn up on these places long before the first shovel of dirt was cast away. No, they built it that way on purpose, because the Puppetmasters want to de humanize and demoralize the prisoner in any and every way they can. Without the help of the turnkeys, they were already implementing their new strategy for control of the prisons, and attacking the spirit was going to be their new, favorite weapon. As funny as the toilet story is, and yes, I laugh at it, too, isn’t sad that a human being- especially a human being who has a position of such power and authority over so many other lives- would be this cruel, to delibererately design this kind of degradation into the very structure of the prison? But that is what they want. They want every thought, every move, and every action to confuse, upset, or anger the prisoner.

The Texas prison system has never been about trying to rehabilitate the incarcerated. Their history and their current actions demonstrate that over and over again. You don’t rehabilitate by creating a culture of violence, first with turnkeys, then with mass, gangland murders. Nobody comes out of that environment better off. They had the power to stop all the murders and the killings of the 80’s and 90’s. Well, let me honest, There probably still would have been fights, with some people getting stabbed or even killed, but the Puppetmasters gave it their official sanction. It took them over 10 years to finally start trying to stop the war, all because they refused to let some uppity federal judge dictate to them how they were going to run their prison system. And if they don’t want rehabilitation, what is it that they want? Free labor. Free, slave labor that has to do what they want, when they want it done, and by God, you better keep your mouth shut while doing it. And that’s why they leave the prison system so screwed up that people getting out have their heads on backwards and the probability that they’ll come back is too damn close to 100%.

I ask myself over and over, “How could ANYONE come out of this system back in the 80’s or 90’s rehabilitated?” The Puppetmasters look at this and say, “After all these inmates went through, how could they ever come back?” But when someone has been abused for years and years, what usually happens? There are all kinds of psychological problems that develop, but they all almost always become angry, even if they might express it different ways. They become angry with their abusers, and they become angry with the society around them, that, on some level, they hold responsible for not intervening to stop the abuse. In almost every case, they need treatment, even though they often don’t receive it and deal with these problems anyway they can for years without any help. These men saw people, many of their own friends, humiliated, beat on, hit in the head with pipes, stabbed with shanks, and even killed outright- and it was often enough done by the people who should have been protecting them, the correctional officers. And they were subjected to this for years. What kind of effect do you think it had on these people mentally? Hell, yeah, they were screwed up.

Look at the soldiers coming home from these wars over seas, and thank God for them, that they are going over there and doing what they can to keep this war as far away from the shores of the U.S. as possible. But they see some terrible things, their friends and fellow soldiers getting shot or blown up, maimed for life. Many of these brave men are coming back to the States with PTSD. And when they come home, what happens to them? They are good men with wives, mothers and fathers, children. But even though they have their lives back, they’ve come home changed. They have a hard time fitting into society. And a few, as we’ve sadly watched on the news lately, lose it all together and become killers. Don’t think I’m trying to compare these honorable heros with the prisoners. I’m only trying to point out the psychological effects of long-term violence, and I’m sure everyone can see, it’s not good. And if I can see it, why can’t the people who control the prisons see it?

Sadly, I believe they DO see it. And really, I believe they not only see it, but that they planned it. The Puppetmasters built these new prisons all over the state by the dozens. They built the high-security super segs where they started putting all the gang leaders or violent prisoners. Later, they’d even start housing mental patients in these units. These prisoners are in a cell, by themselves, 24 hours a day. They might get one hour of rec, where they’re locked in an outfitted cage, again by themselves. But, the prison does not want these inmates to get out for even one hour a day, so they’re always cancelling rec because they are “short on staff” or “inclement weather” or whatever excuse they need to come up with. So, they’re sitting in these cells, so small that you can stretch your arms out from side to side and touch each wall. No windows. 24 hours a day. For decades. That would be difficult for ANYONE to survive with their head straight, but now imagine that these people going into these cells are already messed up. Some of these people were so mental already that they’d drink out of the toilet or stuff their matresses with feces and sleep on it. Then come the experimental drugs like Zoloft, Dandan, Seraquil. I’ve wondered many times how much the Puppetmasters got paid to allow these patients to become guinea pigs. And as we learned later on, many of these drugs caused the patient to become suicidal, contributing to the patient’s suicide. But, as I keep on saying, it was the Puppetmasters at their best.

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