By Jay Goodman

          Inside the Texas prison system “all of your senses are assaulted here, especially your sense of justice.” I can’t imagine a better description of my time here. From the moment I got off the bus in Huntsville I was surrounded by hate. Not just a normal dislike from the staff but a hatred like none other that I’ve ever seen. Why I do understand the need for control, and I need for discipline, I don’t see a need for hatred. What has hatred ever done to solve anything throughout our world?

          What does hate have to do with rehabilitation? Does the Texas Department of criminal justice believe that heat will help an individual or destroy him? From my point of you hate only brings more heat. Every present I went to the population density in the cellblocks creates sites of unimaginable desperation. Since prisoners are not paid in Texas, A lot of people are in need of basic things such as soap, toothpaste, deodorant. It seemed like everywhere I went people were begging in need of something. The Texas prison system challenged me at every possible level: physically, emotionally, spiritually, and practically. It was, in one word, devastating. These things also created a lot of tension because some prisoners have money, and of course as everyone got to know each other we were trying to help the ones that never received money. But when the guards would shake these inmates down and they couldn’t show a commissary receipt, the guards will take the items from them. This of course would cause more hate. Why I do understand the guards have a job to do, they also understand that there are hundreds of prisoners without money to buy the things they need. I thought it was always a shame that the ones who knew this decided to still take the things from these prisoners. Once again, it’s all about hate.

          Everywhere you turn inside the Texas prison system it seems like its sole purpose is to spread hate. Texas will say that the guards are only doing their job. And while I will admit this is true, there’s a big difference between doing your job and going beyond your job and being hateful. The people who control the prisons are aware that there’s many people who don’t ever receive money, so what are they supposed to do? Almost the entire year is over 90°, can anyone imagine what someone would smell like without deodorant? Now imagine hundreds of people without deodorant? But they know this, they only do it to cause problems. There’s no place you can go in prison to get the things that it’s needed.

          Other times the guards will manipulate their position to get someone beat or killed. Which leads me to my story. I knew a guy who was always in the law library, he filed a lot of lawsuits and used to help others with grievances. He also helped other prisoners file lawsuits and even won a few in court. Needless to say, he wasn’t like by prison staff. They hate anyone who takes them to court. Especially the ones who win. But in a lot of ways other staff members like this guy, because he was a quiet inmate who always showed a lot of respect to the inmates and staff. He worked out daily and was taking college courses, and was involved with groups from the world dealing with prison reform. This inmates name was Nick. Nick was a white inmate in a pretty much black prison, but Nick got a long with almost all the black prisoners. The staff was almost totally run by blacks, but once again Nick was respected by most. At least until one day when Nick filed a grievance for someone against a ranking officer named Captain Jackson. The prisoner won in court and Jackson stopped Nick one day and promised him, he would pay. This is a problem with the Texas prison system, if a guard or ranking officer gets a grievance or a lawsuit filed against them for doing something wrong, instead of learning from it they immediately start doing everything they can to causes personal problems. Even if they get this person killed. As I said the whole system is based on corruption and hate. Hate is what they teach and what they practice.

          Anyway, Captain Jackson decided to put an inmate in Nick cell who was known to be a real tough guy. Nick was around 6’1” maybe 180 pounds, the other guy was around 6’5”, 250 pounds. Right away the big guy tried to intimidate Nick, after a few days Nick wrote out a request form and went to Captain Jackson and told him that he would like to be moved into another cell because he was having trouble with his cellie. The captain said, “you are the one who’s always helping everyone write grievances, and filing lawsuits, I’m not going to help you.” Even though by the Texas prison policy, and federal law, there’s not supposed to be any retaliation for using the grievance procedure, or utilizing the courts. But like I always say, the Puppetmasters don’t give a shit about any rules or procedures, and they really don’t care about the law. Especially federal law.

          Nick, as always, was trying to do the right thing. But all the captain would say is you know what you have to do. Meaning fight, or kill each other. Nick handed a request form and asked the Captain to think about it. The Captain looked at the request form and said I’ve thought about it. He took out his pen and wrote on the request form “you know what you have to do,” and sign it and handed it back to Nick. Nick went back to his cell and wrote his attorney a letter and explained what was going on and said here is a request form that the Captain signed, if anything happens to me, you’ll know what happened. That night he mailed it out. After a week with this guy and his cell, a friend of Nick who worked in the administration building her Captain Jackson tell someone that he had put this guy in his cell, and paid him $100 in Commissary to make sure he would beat Nick so bad until they had to send them out to the hospital by air flight. Nick‘s friend gave Nick a steel pick to protect himself. That night when they went to their self for the evening Nick knew without a doubt this guy may kill him. So, he waited until the cellie went to sleep and took the pick and stabbed him through the eye the big dude jumped up and Nick stabbed him a second time in his chest. Nick told him as he laid there dying, “I hope that $100 in commissary was worth it.”

          When the police came in that night and spoke to Nick, he told the police that “he had been attacked, but wasn’t able to get the shank away from his cellie and stabbed to death. Nick also told the police that Captain Jackson had put this guy in his cell and paid him to make sure he was sent out by airflight. The Captain, Warden, and Major we’re all in the room. The Captain started screaming “he’s a liar!” The police asked Nick if he could prove what he was saying? Nick said “yes sir, I have a request form explaining to the Captain my situation. And on this form is Captain Jackson’s own handwriting and he also signed it.” The police officer asked Nick if he still had the request form? Nick said “yes sir, my lawyer has it.” Nick said it got so quiet in the room you could hear everyone’s heart beating. He also said the captains face was white as a ghost. The Texas prison system is not used to someone being a smart as this guy. So, the police asked Nick for his lawyers number and when he gave it to him he said “I also have this home number”, and right then he called the lawyer and he said he had the request form and told the police what Nick had written. When the police asked the lawyer what was Captain Jackson’s response? The lawyer said that he had written “you know what you have to do.”

          In the end Nick was never charged with a crime. Was the Captain ever charged? No. Because of the heat a ranking officer try to manipulate the system and have an inmate beat to death. Not because he had done something wrong but because he himself had done something wrong. It turned one man into a killer, and cost another man his life. I have wondered how many cases are just like Nicks? How many men have lost their lives because of guards or ranking officers like Captain Jackson? It’s a cruel game the Puppetmasters play, and continue to play to this very day.

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