For All of the T.D.C.J. Guards

By: Jay Goodman

It seems to me at times like everyone that works for the Texas prison system is mad, or feels it's their duty to act mad. There are of course those guards and ranking officers who come to work that are cheerful and as a whole try to be respectful, but eventually, even they do seem to change. Is some of the reason they change because of the inmates? Yes. Also from my point of view, they become frustrated with other officers they work with. I absolutely understand that prison is a stressful place to work, and at times it is overwhelming to put up with the madness that transpires within this place. Most times I have a lot of sympathy for the guards and other employees, because I realize they have had a rough day with the inmates or their co-workers. Of course, there are those guards who bring trouble to themselves by allowing their personal problems into the workplace. There are also those individuals who feel it is their coming in life to treat everyone in here as badly as they can possibly get away with.

It's easy to point the finger at everyone else because you are upset but, I would ask everyone who is reading this who are employees of the Texas prison system, does it solve the problems you face day to day or does it make them worse? Each of us are responsible for our own actions. There are a lot of good people that work in these prisons, but you allow the frustrations of dealing with the prisoners and your fellow officers dictate how you feel, how you act, and how you treat others. You might think this inmate said this or did that, or that the guard you are working with is lazy or a jerk, all of this may very well be true, but by letting these things get the best of you, it is you that it has the greatest effect on at the end of the day. Not anyone else be it the idiot prisoner or co-worker, I assure you. The only dope that will suffer truly is you. Well, maybe if you decide to bring this anger and frustration home, your family will suffer too. The officers that I see who come to work each day respectful and full of cheer, with understanding and do not take advantage of the inmates, almost always, are given the utmost respect. Please take note, I am not saying that these officers are here kissing the prisoners asses, I am saying that they conduct themselves in a manner that makes people appreciate them. These officers have earned respect. The officers that come here and demand respect, are the ones that ultimately will never get it.

Whatever you give out in your life is what you can expect to receive back. It doesn't matter if you are a prison guard or employed by Wal-Mart. There are some who say that they are here to work not make friends, this is true, but you have taken a job that requires you to interact with thousands of people every day, and like it or not, the way you act and how you treat these people will inevitably have the biggest impact on how you are treated and your emotional status. There are guards that I see that have an immanent hatred for certain inmates, this is completely understandable, I should know better than most that there are a lot damned idiots currently incarcerated in T.D.C.J. The difference between myself and most others is, that I don't let these people control my emotions. Our emotions were given to each of us for one reason, to make us think. When we allow our emotions to do our thinking, the outcome will never be rational or appealing.

Let me use an example. How many times in your life has someone in your family upset you? Nothing big, just said something or done something that made you in return reply with a remark you wish you never had. This has happened to everyone at some time or another, right? That was a moment we have used our emotions to do our thinking. If you dislike a prisoner on account of how they present themselves, then you in return retaliate out of line, then you have brought yourself down to his or her level. Now you are absolutely no better than they are. You might think I'm wrong or try to justify your actions, but as a Correctional Officer, you are trained and are held to a higher standard. I've seen some guards deal with the most unruly of prisoners who were so completely out of line, that have kept their composure and patience showing me the most amazing professionalism. These types of guards a lot of the time are able to diffuse these situations without the use of force or gas. Take the same situation with a guard that thinks with his emotions, having a lack of adequate communication skills, either gets seriously injured or even killed:

During my thirteen years of incarceration, I have witnessed guards act so out of line they get themselves and their fellow co-workers hurt. The other officers hate working with these individuals because they see how they will always stir up the inmates and have to deal with all of the chaos themselves. A lot of these officers believe it is humorous to write prisoners cases for every insignificant thing they do out of compliance. I understand there are times when disciplinary reports must be written. Especially for major infractions like fighting, drug usage/possession or weapons. But, let's take a look at the minor cases. Some inmates get written up for leaving books out or leaving a pen or pencil on a desk, leaving a pair of headphones or a bottle in the window. Yes, it's true that these things are cause for an infraction, but it is something that can or should be corrected by the inmate, not by a disciplinary write-up. According to the handbook that T.D.C.J provides to each of its employees, you are supposed to try and resolve these types of cases verbally before writing a disciplinary report. I have guards remark, "Well they know the rules, how many times do I have to say it?" Yes, I know everyone believes we should know better than to ever break a rule, but there are times we do get in a hurry and just plain forget. Some guards take these things personally like it was done intentionally.  We are human beings also, we make mistakes. For all of the guards that are reading this, please do me this one favor. This next month take notes of your fellow officers that do something wrong, and keep track of all the mistakes you make as well. I have never noticed any officer not make a mistake or do something they know they are not allowed to do. After this month I want you to take a serious look at yourselves, and come to realize what would happen if you and your co-workers had been written up for everything you've done out of compliance. Please understand I am not saying to never write any cases, but stop and really think if it is something actually important or are you letting your emotions get the best of you.

By not giving in to your emotions, you are able to delay your reactions and think. It's very important for you to use those emotions to your advantage, and not simply let them run you by controlling your thinking. Many times an officer will take an inmate they are having trouble with to the side, away from everyone else, and have a serious talk with them. Doing this versus writing an irrationally biased case causing a lot of trouble. Almost always, this prisoner, from that day forward has a lot more appreciation and respect for that particular guard. This resolving any further issues between one another. Life is based on respect, and almost always the amount of respect you give will come back to you. For more than thirteen years of incarceration I have prided myself on talking and showing respect to everyone that works for T.D.C.J, truthfully it hasn't always been easy. Alot of the guards that work for the Texas prison system, should not be here. Like it or not I have put myself in this place and have to deal with them. I realize also that I can not change other people but I have control over one thing, me. So, when dealing with guards that are having a bad day or who I know are idiots, I continue to always speak to them respectfully. 95% of the time I am able to get along with them. Every day you have to choose what kind of day you're going to have.

I am very aware that it's stressful dealing with the ranking officers, and that the guards are pressured by them to write so many cases each day at work. Rank is not allowed to use their position to abuse you or coerce you to go against T.D.C.J. policy. They can not give you Quotas on how many cases are to be written. As for the females, rank cannot use their position to extort you for sex. I have seen many times how ranking officers will put the women they like in nicer locations inside the prison, then next thing they know, they're being pressured into sexual recompense. If anyone tries to use their position to bully you, never accept it. If your immediate unit of employment denies you help, qo over their heads. Learn to use the things that are available to you, such as your workers' union. Do not allow any of these ranking officers or administration to make your life miserable, or use you for their dirty work. Take for instance the situation at the Ramsey Unit. The Major, Captains, and Sergeants all used the lower officers to set up inmates. They tried to enforce a quota of two cases per day for the other officers and were setting up inmates by placing weapons and various other contraband in their possession. The end result of all of this was that the Warden was relocated to another unit, the Major was forced to resign and several of the other officers are indicted for their crimes.

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