In Gratitued to Mr. Francisco Hernandez

By Jay Goodman

Every now and again, we meet someone in life that we are proud to call friend. And sometimes, that friend will come out of nowhere. Meaning, you really don’t even know or understand how this person came into your life to begin with?

Coming to prison 14 ½ years ago and seeing all of the abuse that goes on in here has made me view life very differently. No one can experience physical or mental abuse for years or decades, and expect it not to affect them. Ask any woman or child, who have been mistreated for years, how it’s changed them? And you’ll see that most of them will never be the same as before. Even the people who’ve gone on in life, and that are in a better place emotionally, have issues from their past experiences. I’ve even read stories from men who were prisoners of war, that still have problems 30, or 40 years later. Even though their married with children and are very successful people. Being mistreated physically and mentally for long periods of time, takes a toll on a person in every way imaginable.

From my personal experience it’s made me view life differently. When I stepped inside the Texas prison system, I was at first, in disbelief, over the treatment of the overall population, and all of the corruption. Then, as the years past, I became angry, frustrated, and at times depressed. I am also thousands of miles away from my children and grandchildren, so seeing them regularly has been impossible.

When I lost my Mother in 2015, I felt that was the final straw that held me together. Dealing with the insanity of the Texas prisons, not seeing anyone for years at a time, seeing my little girl grow up through pictures. Then one night, I was awakened up by an officer telling me I had to go up front, to the main building to speak with a ranking officer. When I arrived, it was around 2:30 am. They informed me that my Mother had passed away. I remember sitting in a room full of strangers, and one of them kept asking me if I was OK? I could hear him, but in my mind I was going over the last 50 years and remembering a Mother who loved me with all of her heart and soul. Even though I was in prison for over 10 years at that time, I called my Mom every single morning, just to say hello and, I love you. I cannot even begin to tell anyone the pain I felt at that moment. By 3:30 am, I was sitting in a dark cell thinking, that was the last of my immediate family. I lost my brother, Dad, and now my Mother, I felt alone. Yes, I have my boys, and daughter, but they are so far away. In the weeks and months that past, the loneliness was overwhelming at times. I had a good friend named; Mike, that I was going to the law library with 2 or 3 times a week. He was praying hard for me, and helping me hold it together. Both of Mike’s parents were also helping me. They would call the courthouse and were talking to people from probate. I can remember walking around the day room in my cell block, each morning working out, and as I passed the phones, the thought of never talking to my Mother again, was a pain I’ll never forget. I was the only child my Mother had that was still alive. I was also, so devastated, that I wasn’t there to even hold her hand and comfort her, in her last moments.

It was about this time I met a lawyer named, Francisco Hernandez. I had heard he was interested in a book about the Texas prison system. I was surprised because at that time I had been working on my book, “The Puppetmasters”, for around seven years, on and off. I was even more surprised, that he was willing to pay me per chapter. Here I sat wondering, what the hell I was going to, do to survive inside this prison system, that doesn’t pay its prisoners. The basic needs of a human being; deodorant, soap, shampoo, dental floss, toothpaste, detergent, among other things that a person needs every day, are not provided to us. The stress of my Mom’s death, the worry over how I was going to survive, weighed very heavy on me. Then, here. came Mr. Hernandez, in my life. Just to have money for the things I needed was a big weight lifted off my back. Then to be able to have someone like Mr. Hernandez help me expose this prison system, for all that they’ve done in the past, and everything that’s still going on now, was another blessing. I used to wonder, who I could ask, to help me, with my book, “The Puppetmasters”. Needless to say, I always figured it would be virtually impossible to find someone in his position, that is willing to help someone in my position.

After long periods of time incarcerated, it becomes harder to find people that are willing to help us. Even people that love us, slowly seem to fade away. It’s not that they mean to let us down, but realistically, life goes on. So when Mr. Hernandez came into my life, I was at one of the lowest points I had ever felt in all my years. As I started writing each chapter, something else began to happen. I was able to release a lot of anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness, pain, depression, and hurt. I slowly began to have something that every single person must have in their lives, “Hope”. I have learned that, hope, is essential. Without hope, we begin to give up on every aspect of our lives. Needless to say, having money to also buy, the things J. needed each week, was also a blessing. I was receiving letters from Mr. Hernandez, telling me about the people who had been reading my stories on his blog, and how it was making a difference. And of course, reading that, gave me a lot of hope, because I want so much to bring attention to the world, what’s going on inside the Texas prison system. I have prayed that someone would come along that would care enough to help me. And for the life of me, I see that is hard to come by in Texas.

I also had another book that I was working on called, “Angie’s Story”, that I had thought about publishing for a long time. I asked Mr. Hernandez, if he could put it on Amazon? He wrote me back right away, and said, yes.

There have also been other things he’s assisted me with, such as an address to parole too, letters, and has been asking me about my federal time. Through the years, he has encouraged me to keep my head up, and has kept saying how the stories are making a difference. He once told me, that because of my stories, he fights harder to get his clients that extra year or two less. When the district attorney asked him, why he was fighting so hard for that extra year or two, that it’s not that big of a difference. He told him, It’s not that big of a difference unless you are the one going to prison. He has also helped another man that I know of named, Isai. Isai, just served 12.5 years in federal prison. Mr. Hernandez, gave him a job, and is putting him through school. I also received a letter from Isai, telling me how he is a great guy, and he hopes to never lose him as a friend. Isai also told me, how Mr. Hernandez has been very inspirational to him, and that he is an amazing person. Which also made me start thinking of something. Imagine if every lawyer, district attorney, and judge, in this country were to go out of their way to help just a few people, like Mr. Hernandez has been doing, for Mike, Isai, and me. What a difference they would make in the lives of hundreds of thousands of prisoners. And for everyone in Texas, that’s a lawyer, district attorney, and judge, isn’t there more to being an officer of the court than just putting people in prison? While I understand that’s part of your job, and that there is a need for prisons, shouldn’t it also be a part of your jobs to want people to get real rehabilitation? Wouldn’t you like to know that each of you has made a great impact on people’s lives, as your careers come to an end? Wouldn’t you also like to know, that you not only helped your community, by putting criminals in prison? But, that you were a major part in those same criminals, being better human beings when they return home? Every one of you, may be thinking, I cannot help the world, which is true, but you can make a difference in a few. And when you do that, it becomes contagious, those few want to help others like they were helped. Because of Mr. Francisco’s help, he was able to breath hope back into my life. And the outcome has been great. I have written non-stop for him, since day one. And I believe everyone who reads my book, “Angie’s Story”, that it will change their lives forever. I also believe my book, “The Puppetmasters”, will help open the eyes of Texas, and my prayer is, that it will be the start of great changes inside this corrupt, prison system. If it does help make a great change, once again, it will be because Mr. Hernandez took the time out of his life, to help someone in prison.

Now Like I said at the beginning of this chapter, every, now and then through our lives, we meet someone we are proud to call a friend. Well Mr. Hernandez, at the lowest point of my life you, stuck your hand out, and helped me off the ground. You have inspired me, you gave me hope, when I had lost hope. Because of you, I strive to give more of myself. I strive to become the man I admire in you. So, Mr. Francisco Hernandez, I am proud that you are my friend.

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