Long Term Incarceration

By Jay Goodman

I’ve written a lot about the effects of long-term isolation, I wrote two chapters called super segregation and showed how even normal people are going crazy back in these isolation cells just sitting there 24 hours a day, four weeks, months, years, and decades. Now in this chapter I am going to talk about something else that I’ve seen that destroys many people coming to the Texas prison system. Long-term incarceration. I have talked about this somewhat in my last few chapters with my experience leaving prison after 15 years, in the shock I felt taking my first ride in 11 years. But now I want to talk about to people I met since I arrived here at the Walls unit in Huntsville six weeks ago. The part of the prison they have me in is called transient, all of the prisoners on the cell Block are here because they’re being transferred to some type of program or they have a parole like me in a waiting to be released. Each day people come and go, you can see the anticipation on their faces as they are wondering what prison they’ll be transferred to. Or you’ll see their smiles on their faces because they are leaving press in the next day. I’m in cell seven on the first range, so each day I’ll meet the new people that moved into cell six and eight. Most of the time it’s just casual conversation, since there’s no hot water in our cells are usually let them know I have a hot pot and if they need some hot water for something feel free to let me know and I’ll pass it over to them.

I’ve met quite a few people over my month and a half, but there’s a couple that have really stuck out from the rest. One day around two weeks ago I had a doctor’s appointment and was sent to the infirmary around six in the morning. I was put in the waiting room until they wanted to see me, there was one other man sitting inside already and we started talking. They say everyone has a story, which I learned a long time ago this is true. The only difference is not every person has a story that will captivate me enough to write about it. This guy asked me “how long have you been in prison?” I said a little over 15 years. I told him I have a parole and I’m waiting on the feds Ohio to come get me. He then asks me, “how do you like the Walls unit?” I told him I believe that this place should have been condemned decades ago. He laughed and said he’s been here for 35 years. I said you’ve been at this prison for 35 years straight? He answered yes. He told me 35 years ago that his wife and him left a wedding of his brother and on the way home he was involved in an accident and a lady was killed. Because someone died, they did a blood check on him, and it came back positive for alcohol. He said that it wasn’t beyond the legal limit but because someone died, he was charged anyway. He said that he had never been in trouble in his life, and when they offered him 10 years, he said no. He told me that he took it to a jury trial and was found guilty. The DA ask the Gerry to give him 35 years, one year for every year the woman was that died. He gets out in July. I asked how many times have you come up for parole? He said over 20 times. I asked if he had been in any trouble, he said “never. “why wouldn’t they parole you? He said “do you remember some years back when the police arrested the three parole commissioners in the region for falsifying prisoners parole information?” I said “yes.” I already knew exactly what he was talking about because I did a chapter on it for this book. He said imagine how many people’s lives have been destroyed because of them.

In 1985 I was a 30-year-old man. I married my high school sweetheart, we had two beautiful children. We had our whole lives ahead of us. My wife tried to stand by me, but after 10 years she finally moved on. My children are grown with families of their own. I lost both of my parents. Now I have a 65-year-old man who is leaving prison and I’m scared. “why are you scared sir?” “The whole world has changed; everything has left me behind. Jay, I don’t even know my children, I pray the love me. I saw his eyes were filled with tears, he stood and walk to the window and look down. After a moment he said “I have thought about the woman that died that night, the accident was never determined who was at fault”. I said look sir, it was an accident and accident that even if you were at fault it’s in the past.  I can feel the goodness coming from you, it’s time to go home and enjoy the rest of your life. I am sure if you let your children see the side of you, they will love you very much.

The nurse called for him and he smiled at me, we shook hands and he said “I’ll remember your words of wisdom, God bless you Jay.” I said God bless you too sir.

As I walked back to my cell, I could not help but feel a lot of sorrow for this man. I looked at the 30-foot red brick wall that surrounds the entire prison, and thought WOW! 35 years inside these walls. I’ll because of an accident. If that wasn’t enough to take in nothing good prepared me for the next two men who died meet next. An old Mexican was moving in cell eight right next to me, while he was waiting for the Garr to roll his cell door, he looked in at me and smiled. He said “how are you doing young man?” I smiled back and said “under the circumstances I’m doing well.” he asked me how long I’ve been here? I told him almost 6 weeks. I noticed he kept looking around like he was looking for someone. He didn’t get here until late. He asked me if I had seen another Mexican man named Julio, that was about his age? I told him no. He said what’s your name? J, I said. Nice to meet you Jay, I am one. Tomorrow will be one of the best days of my life today, do you know why? I said probably because you’re greeting out. He smiled real big and said “you’re right.” But it’s more than that. I have been incarcerated for 50 years straight. I was arrested in April 1970 he saw the look in my eyes, pulled out his ID card and showed me. His cell door rolled and as he was going in he asked for some hot water. He said “Jay drink a cup of coffee with me, “even though I was about to go to bed I said sure. I passed him the hot water through the bars and he began to tell me what happened 50 years ago. He said that he and his brother had robbed a store and then shortly after the robbery a Houston police car tried to stop them but that his brother tried to out run him but that eventually he wrapped. The police officer said during the trial that they pointed a gun at him. But there was never a gun found, and the store clerk testified that he never used a gun at any time during the robbery. Why did you do so much time I asked? Because since the police officer said he pointed a gun at him the parole board said they looked at my brother and I as we were willing to kill a police officer.

About this time we heard another group of prisoners coming, another old white hair man stopped in front of Southgate. I saw a big smile come across his face, then they both began to weep uncontrollably. It was Julio, Juan‘s brother, they had not seen each other in 50 years. Juan kept telling me, Jay, this is my brother. The cell door rolled once again and Julio stepped in the cell with his brother. They both cried some more then they both started laughing and teasing each other about getting old. Juan started telling me about how they grew up. He asked for some more Hot water and I sat back listening to them laugh and cry all night. Julio showed me an old picture of them right before they got arrested. My God, I thought they look like kids, they both had long hair and very little facial hair. As I look at this picture my heart and soul her terribly for these two men. I studied the picture closely, because I wanted to remember that moment in time. When morning came and their cell door rolled, they both stopped in front of my cell door to say goodbye. They were both smiling from ear to ear as a shook my hand. Post said God bless you Jay. As they both turn to leave, I close my eyes for a moment and ask God to bless the rest of their lives with peace and happiness. Between the man I met in medical, and these two brothers they had a combine time of 85 years in prison. Did all of them deserve to come to prison? Yes. But did they deserve to serve the time they did? No. All three of these men were model prisoners with good institutional records. Why especially the brothers to serve coming to prison my question is did they both receive just justice? Was 50 years the punishment that fit them in crime? There are people in prison with much worse crimes not doing near the time these three men did. I have said throughout this book there is a need for presence. People have to answer for their crimes. But in the same breath punishment should fit the crime‘s. Texas only focuses on keeping all of its presence Fulton capacity so the Puppetmasters can keep their money machine rolling. It’s a travesty what happened to these three men. The sad thing is there’s tens of thousands of people just like them throughout the state. I have wondered many times what’s it going to take for this corrupt system to finally be taken over by the feds? Because until that day, they will continue to abuse all of the prisoners in their care.

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