Finally Leaving TDCJ

by Jay Goodman

Well after 15 years and three months I finally had an out date to leave prison. When I first arrived here at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, Texas, I was supposed to leave the next day. But due to the confusion over moving into federal custody or going to Ohio for a pearl violation, and let’s not forget COVID-19, I ended up sitting here for two months for these idiots to get their shit together. They finally said another release date for April 24th. As happy as I was to have another release date, I still wondered if it was true. I mean twice before I was scheduled to leave for both times it was postponed. I got up at 2:30 in the morning to start getting ready, I wanted to clean up and drink some coffee before I left. I was so anxious to get out of the 200-year-old prison I’ve been sitting in for the last two months. I have been in total isolation and I knew the hot day is a summer were quickly coming. Finally, around 5 AM they move me to the front building to start the process, I asked if they knew for sure that I was leaving? The guard said they had spoken to the transport office or the day before and it look like I’d be leaving. Even though I was excited, I must admit in my mind I was nervous something would happen. I sit there for hours waiting. Around 11 o’clock, I was starting to worry. A few minutes later they told me he was there, to use the restroom if I needed to. The officer from the transportation center walked in and started asking me a few questions, and checking the things I was taking with me. He put the chain around me, put cuffs on, and we were both taken to the front of the prison by ranking officer and walked outside. Wow! I had been sitting in a cell with no windows for two months straight. My only means of light was a small lightbulb. So, when the 90° sun hit my eyes it took me a second or two to adjust. After 15 years and three months, I could never begin to explain how wonderful it felt to finally leave the Texas Department of criminal justice. As I was walking to the car I was overwhelmed with happiness. Even though I was moving to another prison system in Ohio for a parole violation, it was a moment I’ll never forget. A guard came running out to the car as the transportation officer was about to put me inside. At first, I was nervous because I thought something happened. But it was some paperwork they forgot to give me. After we got inside the car, the transportation officer whose name was Gonzalez, informed me we were going to the Houston airport, and that we had a long day ahead of us. He told me that we would be landing at several different places, and there would be several delays. As we pulled away, I looked back at the 30-foot wall that surrounds the prison one last time, and then God I was finally leaving, and that I survived.

Mr. Gonzalez was a really good man and our conversation on the way to the airport was great. He asked me a lot of questions about where I serve my time, and he asked what Did I do all these years? I told him about getting in the stock market, and about had it written several books. He told me about how he had been on the road for over a month transporting prisoners all over the United States. Our conversation was great, we talked about family and he asked about how I learned about the stock market? By the time we got to the Houston airport we both had a very good feeling about what type of person we were. As we walked from the rent a car office inside the airport, I was amazed to see how much everything changed in the last 15 years. Every single person has phones in their hand. I am talking everyone, even kids. If they were not talking, they were texting. I can see how far technology had come since I went to prison. After we got through the lines and got our tickets, we sat down and started talking. He showed me his Apple phone and said ask my phone something, I said “hi, how are you?” The phone said “fine, how are you?” Then he said “what’s the name of your book?” I said “Angies Story.” He put the name in his phone and seconds later the book was on his screen. Mr. Gonzalez also open the stock market account while we were sitting there. He asked me a lot about what he should invest in? I gave him a list of books to order that had help me through the years. When I had gotten arrested 15 years ago, they had just come out with the camera phone, so sitting there watching everything he could do on his phone was amazing to me. For people who go to prison for decades they are literally lost in time. I cannot begin to tell you how I felt sitting there in that airport looking at how everything has changed. I felt like I was living out the old Rip van Winkle story.

By the time we boarded the jet, my head was swimming at all I was saying. Mr. Gonzalez had given me a window seat, as we sit there getting ready for takeoff my mind was racing in many different directions. I was looking back over the last 15 years of my life. I remembered my first day at the Garza unit, I remember the fights, the riots, the stabbings, the murders. I thought about working in the fields picking cotton in temperature so hot that men would collapse. I thought about how the guards would set prisoners up with shanks or drugs, and write fake disciplinary reports to make themselves look good. I thought about how each prison I went to would lock us down at least Twice a year for what’s called an institutional lockdown. This would take anywhere from two weeks to a month and all we be said is one bologna and one peanut butter sandwich. I thought about my time at the Estelle unit and all the abuses I seen of the elderly and the terminally L. I also remembered hell three guard to take me in a cell in isolation and put a hangman’s noose around my neck while I was in handcuffs, and told me if I didn’t stop writing grievances, they would lift my feet up and let me choke out. They were going to kill me for using a system set up by the federal court to protect prisoners from abuses like this. I thought about how they said all of the employees most of the meat and other food that was donated from the local food bank, or wardens like beard at the Stevenson union who got caught stealing food. I thought about how the staff uses all of the inmates to cook, clean, and take care of their needs like we are their personal slaves.

I thought about all of the thousands of inmates who have been in super sick isolations for decades, and all the men stuck back there that suffer from mental problems. I remember the young kid at the Stevenson unit he was repeatedly raped by a sergeant. I also thought about all the prisoners that died from all the drugs being sold throughout the prison system by the guards in the ranking officers.

And I thought about all of the prisoners who were literally cooked a death inside their sales during the summertime, 10 of them died in a 26-day span in 2011 alone. As the jet took off down the runway and took off in the air, I looked down on the city of Houston. I close my eyes and then God I made it out alive. How on earth can someone go through the Texas Department of criminal justice for all the years I did and not be changed? All of the things I went through in scene has affected me in ways I could never truly explain to someone that’s never experience the pain and suffering I had to endure. I can tell I am not the same person I was when I got there. I worked hard to become a better man mentally, physically, and spiritually, and I accomplish the goal. But the puppet masters of stolen a piece of me, they showed me a crow that I never New existed. I don’t understand why the state and federal government hasn’t put an end to the corrupt prison system. As we flew into the blue sky, I also smiled, and I finally left the puppet masters world.

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