Institutionalized Is Not A Lifestyle

By Jay Goodman

Over the last 15 years of my incarceration I have met thousands of different types of individuals in prison. And I have studied my fellow prisoners a lot harder than most other people do because of the book I began writing back in 2008. I have written a lot about the effects of how we are treated, but I wanted to show what happens to someone that has spent too much time in prison.

I have stated throughout my book, that there is a need for prisons. Without any doubt there are people who for whatever reason aspire to be in gangs and refuse to change their lifestyle. But, I also have seen people in prison, if they were given the right opportunity would leave prison and go on to live productive lives. Now there are prisoners also that I have seen who have done so much time that they don’t even realize the psychological damage they have. A lot of people have heard this word in prison and I’m sure in the free world, “Institutionalized”.

I have already written chapters on this, but I wanted to bring a few things to light that I’m sure most prisoners never think about. Of course, the Puppetmasters have thought about it, and they have utilized it throughout the entire prison system from the beginning, but my belief is they have mastered it since the start of the 1990’s. From my view point I have always looked at myself separated from both my fellow prisoners and the guards, and other staff members. I like to say that I am on the outside looking in. What I mean by this is, I’m not on the prisoner’s side or the Texas prisons side. By staying on the outside it’s given me the opportunity to see things and learn things that most people never see or learn that come to prison or that work here.

Almost all prisoners come to prison and fall easily into the mind set of prison life and even worse prison thinking. And because of that, it’s allowed the Puppetmasters to manipulate and institutionalize most people. From my perspective the Puppetmasters know to institutionalize people they would need time. So, first they built way over one hundred prisons so they could mass incarcerate hundreds of thousands of men and women at one time. Then of course they payed people off in Austin to create a bill that would allow them not to let out the prisoners who were model inmates, that had earned what is called, work time, and good time. It went from mandatory release, to discretionary release. Which means, it doesn’t matter how hard you work, or how good you are, if they don’t want to let you go, they won’t. While Of course they wil,1 have a million reasons why they won’t let the men and women out who have earned it. They knew that they had to keep these prisons full. If they had let out all of the prisoners who have earned it, there was no way in hell they could keep over a hundred prisons open. But, what they did do, was let out a11 of the prisoners they knew for sure would come right back. By doing this it opened beds for the people waiting in county jails, and pretty much insured that most of the ones who left would come back within a year or less. They created a revolving door, so the Texas prisons would remain full at all times.

Remember the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is not so
much a prison system as a whole, it is an industry. I have pointed this out a lot throughout my book, because I want everyone who reads this to understand the thinking of the Puppetmasters. Their number one goal is to keep us here for as long as they can, that keeps the prisons full to capacity, audit gives them the time they need to institutionalize the prisoners in their care. The sad thing about them doing this is, they ruined so many people’s lives. For one, the prisoners who should of gotten out were made to stay in these Texas prisons for decades longer than they should have. I am not talking hard core criminals who were in here for killing and robbing, I’m talking inmates who are the poster children for early release. They came to prison and took vocational classes, went to college, and didn’t get in any trouble. But the Puppetmasters knew that if they started giving these men parole that their dream to turn their prison system into an industry would not have happened. So, as I said, the ones they knew for sure would come back got parole, the ones who were doing good would be denied parole. This also allowed for something else to happen, the Puppetmasters knew they had to have prisoners who were well behaved to work in all the factories across the state, plus other important positions, like driving trucks all over the state, or working in the infirmary, or other places that require inmates that had some intelligence. Believe me, this was a well thought out plan on the Puppetmasters part.

Now allow me to give everyone a look at the result of what the Texas prison system did. A guy I’ve known for around 10 years now, who I have always considered a friend. He goes by the name, Low Rider, he is 65 years old, and has close to 30 years in prison. My friend has done 23 years straight in isolation, not because he got into trouble, but because a warden thought he belonged to a gang. I asked him not too long ago when was the last time you received a disciplinary case? He said way over 20 years ago. I sat there looking at him and I must admit I could not help but feel a lot of sorrow for him. My friend is truly a good man, but the Texas prison system has made him so institutionalized, I don’t know if he can ever fit back into the free world ever again. After 23 straight years in solitary confinement he has developed, antisocial behavior. He will talk, to me and other prisoners he has known, but common conversation is out of the question. I get up every morning to work out and I have seen my friend get up between 4 and-5 o’clock too.

He gets out a small towel and begins wiping off his table, the bars on his window, all of the wires that go to his fan, radio, hot pot, and then his shelves, all of the floor, his sink, and toilet. He washes his hands, but now of course the sink has water in it, so he has to wipe it out again. He now puts on a pot of water to make some coffee, the sink again gets water in it, so he has to wipe it out again. Finally, he sits down, but his cellie gets up to go eat breakfast, and once he brushes his teeth and uses the bathroom and leaves the cell, my friend has to wipe off the sink and toilet again, plus all of his cell floor. He sits back down to drink his coffee, but now his cellie comes back from breakfast. And as soon as he cellie gets back to bed, out comes the towel and he has to wipe the floor down again. This process will continue throughout the entire day, no matter if he leaves the cell and comes back, or his cellie leaves and comes back, he has to wipe everything down again. Every single thing he does throughout each day consist around doing everything a certain way, and at a certain time. While I too, have a routine I go by each day, as do most prisoners. But it’s not something I’m completely obsessed with. If for whatever reason I have to do something different than what I usually do I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. But that’s not to say I don’t understand my friend’s behavior because I do.

You see, becoming institutionalized is not something that takes place over night. The normal Joe in prison won’t even recognize that they are becoming institutionalized. What most people in prison do is think, that will never happen to me. But becoming institutionalized comes on us like a cancer. People who have cancer may not even recognize the symptoms at first. But over time it eats at you until one day you’re so sick it’s too late, because it’s spread throughout your entire body.

My friend is not by far slow or stupid, he is a smart man who is artistically talented. I have always enjoyed his company and our conversations have always been pleasant. He has many children and grandchildren who write him and come to see him often. His brothers and sisters take good care of him, and make sure he has everything he needs. Another friend of mine lived in the cell with Lowrider and saw first-hand how institutionalized he is. I asked him if he believed Lowrider could make it in the real world? He said, if where ever he goes, if they give him a spot in the house where he can be alone, he might have a chance.

This is not just one man; the Texas prison system has tens of thousands of people just like my friend. People at large that have lost any sense of the meaning of life. Without an understanding of our own purpose there can be no true commitment. And these thousands of prisoners have lost the real meaning of life. They long to be free, because I believe that is a natural instinct all human beings have. But because they have been abused and mistreated for so long, for part of who they truly are has been stolen from their very soul. And for all the people saying or thinking, they should have thought about this before, they broke the law, I will say this. Yes, they have thought about the consequences beforehand. But also, as a civilized society, who prides itself on Christian Values, we don’t kick someone who’s fallen down. We reach our hand out instead and help them back up on their feet. As much as they deserved to be punished for their crimes, society also has to remember after their debt has been paid, they also deserve to leave prison with a fresh outlook on life. With hope of a wonderful life ahead of them. If you take away all hope, then what does a person have left? Without hope, a man becomes bitter and hateful.

I want to end this chapter with a quote from Dostoyevsky. He said this over 150 years ago. “The degree of civilization in a society can judged by entering its prisons.” Prisoners are human beings, with Mom and Dad’s, with spouses and children who worry about them and miss them. Some of them will likely someday be shown to have been innocent of the crimes of which they are accused. But, even those admittedly guilty of the most heinous crimes must not be denied their Constitutional Right, to be rehabilitated, and treated in such a way that when they leave prison, they will be an asset to their families and to society. If we deny prisoners their Constitutional Rights, we diminish the Constitution for all of us to the extent we deny it to anyone.

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