Making of Warzone in Prison

by Jay Goodman

After David Ruiz won his federal lawsuit and the judge put monitors at each of the prison units to insure their compliance with his orders, the Puppetmasters started the biggest war the state has ever seen. Of course, they will say, “How did we 
start a war? That was the prisoners!” And, in a way, that would be correct. But this is where the ingenuity of the Puppetmasters comes into play. You see, this place is a game to these people, a game that never ends. They make the rules as they see fit,
 and every step of the way, it’s all about manipulation.


As I started my book about the Texas prison system, I fought with myself over what the title should be. I was going to call it The Game, but as the years passed by and I figured out more and more, I witnessed first hand how cunning they are. That’s when I decided there was no more appropriate name than the Puppetmasters. They have everybody on a string- the string called de
ceit. They have other weapons. They use physical and mental abuse. They use manipulation, too. I mean, how else do you get a man 
to steal food for you off his own plate? And they’re not above manipulating their own officers, as well. No one and and nothing matters to the Puppetmasters. Their only concern is to keep this gravy train rolling. Yeah, they call it the TDCJ, but what they ought to call it is the TISS for the Texas Industrial Slave System.

Now, let’s get back to the 1980’s and the deadly war these people started to regain control of their prisons. The blacks are stabbing whites. The whites are stabbing blacks. The Mexicans are stabbing each other, it’s flat out war. The Mexican Mafia’s numbers grew so fast that the Texas Syndicate started recruiting whites. Every single day, there was a stabbing or a killing. Everybody had a knife. Nowhere was safe. Each day, when you left your cell to go to the dayroom, the rec yard, or the chow hall, it was not a question IF someone was going to be shanked. It was only a question of WHO was going to be shanked. Remember the Puppetmasters knew exactly what was going to happen, and that is what makes this black mark in Texas history even worse. Sometimes when I think of this madness, I wonder if any of the Puppetmasters who put this thing together have any regrets over all the deaths, but I quickly realize the answer is NOT AT ALL! I know this, because, to this very day, they are doing the same things in different ways, and only change it up when the courts or the legislature steps in to put a stop to it. These cunning, hateful people are still manipulating, lying, stealing, and enslaving us to run this corrupt prison system for them. They’ve never cared about people suffering- those who lost a lung or an eye from being stabbed. They even care less about all the moms and dads out there who’ve lost a son or even a daughter to this system.

Here’s the story of one of these men. Don Eastman was a 
white man who got assigned to the Ferguson Unit back in the 80’s. In his early 20’s, he was given a life sentence for murder. As I explained in my earlier writing, the Ferguson was NOT a good unit for white prisoners back in the day. Everyone knew Don by the nickname “Slim” because he was tall, at 6’4”, and of course, he was skinny. So, he lands on this unit, and he was greeted by a welcoming committee which is nothing like the one which welcomes you to your neighborhood. There was a group of whites, and they gave him an option, just like they’d give every other white guy that stepped off the bus. You can either fight two guys at once for 45 seconds, or you can
 fight one guy at a time for one minute, two in a row. But before any of that commences, they want to see your “paper work” to make sure you’re down for the “right” kind of crime, because if you’re a “baby raper”, they’ll just kick the shit but of you anyway. Most guys took the two at once for 45 seconds. And NOT fighting wasn’t an option, because if you tried that, they’d all just jump you and smash on you. They were looking for people who would fight in case something kicked off. Anyway, Slim passed his first test and was allowed to stay.

By the way, back in the 80’s, a prisoner walking around with a black eye or a busted mouth was not even asked what happened to him. Imagine all this even after the Ruiz suit. Slim starts doing his time, but not long after this, a black inmate and Slim get into an argument over a lighter. The man was known to be tough and violent, and he ended up telling Slim that he was going to send him out of the prison on a Care Flight. Everyone started warning Slim to be careful.
 The other guy was going around to everyone in the dayroom, bragging what he was about to do to Slim, so Slim goes into his cell and gets a steel rod and a leather cutter. After count, Slim goes into the dayroom, walks up to this guy while he was playing dominos and buries the rod in his side. As 
the guy jerks back, Slim cuts his throat ear to ear. Every one clears out, putting their backs against the wall to keep their own backs safe from getting stabbed from behind. The black guy is bleeding so bad he barely gets to the door and falls out. The doctor and nurse arrive and see how bad he is, and the doc MUST have been a veteran in Vietnam or something, because he’d seen these things before. He went straight down and he pinched off this guys arterial artery, yelling at the nurse to get a pair of hemostats. As she left in a walk, the doc screams at her to RUN! She gets back and the doc gets the bleeding stopped, but how he’s stopped breathing. They start CPR and actually manage to bring him back. He’s Care Flighted to the hospital, and believe it not, he actually survives the attack. Slim goes off to lock up for a year.

I’m going to stop this story here, because it continues on all the way through the 90’s and up to 2011, but the War itself is going strong through most of the 80’s. Of course, with the Puppetmasters sitting in the background laughing and doing nothing to put an end to it. Of course, when they read this they’ll say, “What could WE have done?” The answer, sadly, is MANY things. They could have started separating these warring gangs! How hard is that? It could’ve stopped all the madness; nipped it right in the butt. All these guys- the Mexican Mafia, the Texas Syndicate, the Aryan Brotherhood, all of them- have their group names tattooed on their bodies in big, bold letters, so everybody can see who they run with. 
The simplest solution would to have been taking these guys
 and sorting them out by group and putting all the same members on the same unit together. And this is what I’m talking 
about when I say the Puppetmasters got this whole scheme 
laid out. This simple measure would have quickly and quietly put a stop to the worst massacre Texas has ever seen, but that would have stopped all the killing, and that’s definitely NOT what the Puppetmasters wanted to happen. (It would have saved the lives of many officers, too, by the way.) But, they were mad at the inmates for uniting during Ruiz, pissed off at Judge Justice for interfering with their plantation, mad at the feds for sending in the monitors. What better way to leave egg on all their faces then to stand back and watch the killing, saying the whole time, “See, this is what happens when you mess with the SYSTEM!” Not just any prison system…THEIR prison system.

Finally, after prisoners familes start calling the federal courthouse and making complaints with the judge, he started getting directly involved. Texas took note and at least pretended to do something about it. Guess what it 
was? That’s right. They started checking tats! Imagine that. How very simple. TDCJ starts confirming all the gang members, but would only seg them out if they got caught stabbing or killing someone. Believe or not, most people never even got charged with a crime back then for stabbings, rapes,
or even murders that occurred in prison. It mostly depended on which unit you were assigned to do your time. If you did get charged with a crime, it was a smack on the hand. You might get 1 to 3 years for a stabbing, 5 to 7 for a murder. Imagine. Five years for a murder! But that’s how much the inmates life is worth in here to these people. 
If it hadn’t been for the legislature, it would still be 
the same. But back then, TDCJ was going through the motions to get the court and the prisoners’ families off their backs.

And this is all part of the classic Puppetmaster manipulation. By being so lenient on these crimes, they were showing everyone in prison, “Hey, don’t worry about stabbing each other. Don’t worry about killing each other. It’s okay. We’re not going to do anything to you. We got your back.” They were turning the inmates on each other and giving them a license to do it.

Now, I have to ask you a question. Imagine you’re living in the midst of this killing field… this war zone. Look around you a second. See all those guys around you. How many of them do you think got rehabilitated? How many? Because even the folks coming down here with small sentences folks coming for drugs and auto theft were being thrown into the middle of the war, and they had to make a choice whether
 to live or die. I know a guy who got arrested in Houston, and he was given four years. By the end of his first year
in prison, he ended up having to stab a man to death in defense of his life. Remember there was no structure. You could be a model inmate, and they’d throw you in a cell
 with a guy doing life the hard way. It was turning young kids into killers. But, there was ONE thing going right back then. The feds were making Texas stand good on letting the prisoners out once their time, and good time reached the maximum of their sentence. Trouble was, the prisoners leaving the system back then had seen more combat than a Vietnam war veteran, and none of what was happening was news on the street. They were keeping it real quiet. So these guys get out for doing three years on a car theft, but now, they’re cold-blooded murderers, and instead of taking a good, long look at the failures of the prison system, the public sees these guys coming out and went ape shit. 
”We gotta’ get TOUGH on crime!” And the politicians ate 
it up, too, scourging Judge Justice and the Ruiz lawsuit the whole way. 

One way or another, Texas came under a lot of pressure to get things cleaned up in the late 80’s. Ann Richards takes office- the last Democrat to be elected governor in Texas to this day, and the number of Texas prisons explodes. There were maybe a few dozen prisons in Texas, and all of
 a sudden, there are over a hundred. Also, they’re no longer centralized. Richards thought she’d be doing Texas a favor by scattering the prison industry all over Texas. Just about every sleepy little burg gets a prison, and roughnecks become correctional officers. Texas was also getting ready to build its first high-security super segs, where men would live 
and die after decades of 23 hours in cell, one hour rec… IF they were lucky. They’d also use these cells to house mental patients who were incarcerated, using them as guinea pigs for pharmaceutical experiments. I’ve seen some pretty awful things with my own eyes, but I can’t even imagine what it must have been like back there for these guys- never seeing the moon or stars, never seeing rain coming down. The only communication they had was yelling and shouting at “friends” whose faces they may never see. It must have been pure hell.

Next time, I’ll tell you about the guards and ranking officers would hold their own little Ultimate Fighting matches long before there was even an octogon ring or a UFC. We’ll also take a look at how these prisons started getting flooded with drugs, and finally cell phones, so they could line their pockets with money, all the time pointing at
 the inmates’ families, and accusing them of bringing contraband into the prisons. The Puppetmasters at their finest.

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