Modern Day Slavery Inside the Texas Prison System

By Jay Goodman

Under the Texas government code, acts 1991, 72nd, §10.01(a) renumbered former chapter 496 as chapter 497, and amended the chapter heading © 2012 Vernon’s Texas code annotated. I will be discussing how slave labor is allowed in Texas under the guise of rehabilitation. I know, I know, you hard on crime advocates will say, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” With that being said, let’s look at the new Texas prison system. Texas’ overall inmate population exploded during the 1990s. Growing from roughly 50,000 in 1990 to about 158,000 in 2000. According to the sentencing project, a Washington D.C.- based research non-profit organization. Now, this Texas government code was revamped in 1991. Did someone have the inside scoop on what was going to happen?

Like most prisons in other states, Texas uses its prisoners to “offset” expenses. Which really translates to free work from its slaves. The Legislator’s were even kind enough to pass this into law. “Why Toby hasn’t felt this good in a long time, Boss.” Our elected criminals, sorry Legislators were smart enough to make slavery legal in Texas. Let’s see how they accomplished this nefarious deed. The Texas government code §497.001 Texas Correctional industries; definitions: (a) Texas Correctional Industries is an office in the department.(b)(3) work program participant (slave) means a person who: (a) is an inmate confined in a facility operated by or under contract with the department or a defendant or released housed in a facility operated by or under contract with the department; and (b) works at a job assigned by the office. This little section becomes the foundation of how TDCJ operates its slave system.

D.Rawlinson/Texas Prison Labor Union wrote on this issue in his second draft June ‘10, “Slave labor TDCJ inmates.” He discusses these issues as A Human Rights problem. He even discussed his conversation with former ACLU Director Will Harrill who told him the ACLU did not have the funds or the workers to solve the ills of TDCJ’s inmates. If the ACLU doesn’t have the power, then who does? Exactly what Texas already knew, NO ONE. Rawlinson discusses the grievance system, turn-keys, PIE (Prison Industrial Employment), and information on how to contact TPLU.

The reason I bring this up is because of §499.099 Participation in work program required, (a) The department “shall” require each defendant or released housed in a facility operated by or under contract with the department “to work” in agricultural, industrial, or other work programs to the extent that the inmate, defendant, or releasee is physically and mentally capable of working. Lopez v. Johnson (App.12 Dist.2002) WL3161- 3477- Did not violate involuntary servitude. According to this section everyone “will” work in TDCJ. Under threat of a case, violence, or retaliation. This is perfectly legal right? WRONG! Under §497.006, contracts with private business;(b)... except as provided by subsection (c) a contract entered into under this section “must” comply with all requirements of the private sector Prison Industrial Enhancement Certification Program operated by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and authorized by 18 u.s.c. section 1761. (Transportation or Impartation)(e)(4) have participated in such employment voluntarily. If by it’s very nature TDCJ’s prison work programs (factories) are illegal.

How come the Fed’s haven’t stepped in to stop them? “It’s elementary dear Watson!” Section §497.004 labor pay; (a) The board “may” develop a rule and the department “may” administer an incentive pay scale for work program participants... The department “shall” apportion pay earned by a work. Program participant in the same manner as is required by rules adopted by the board under section 497.0581 (deductions to be taken from wages received). What, this means is, in theory, TDCJ can pay its workers. But, it will still deduct 80% of their pay for cost of housing, food, and laundry. But, TDCJ doesn’t need to pay its workers because we get “GOOD TIME” already for working. But wait there’s more.

  • 498.003 Accrual of good conduct time, (a) good conduct time is a privilege and not a right. (b) An inmate “may” accrue good conduct time.... which basically means an inmate has as much of a chance at good conduct time as a frog has of growing wings so it doesn’t bump its ass when it jumps. This criminal enterprise is so profitable that they even included their own political subdivisions. Let’s take a look into these political subdivisions shall we.
    • 497.023 Priorities: under this subchapter and subchapter A, the office “shall” produce products and articles first to fulfill the needs of agencies of the state and second to fulfill the needs of “Political Subdivisions” or other purchasers. Remember this is big business, and everyone wants a piece of this pie.
  • 497.002 Purpose, implementation: (a) the purpose of the office are to “implement” this subchapter and subchapter B to: (2)... providing products or articles for sale on a profit basis to the public or to agencies of the state or political subdivisions of the state. So, who are these political subdivisions? Damn if I know. The taxpayers of this state cannot review what TDCJ spends their money on. Don’t have to believe me, just ask the Comptroller reports: “shall” submit reports to the office” and catalogues prepared under section 497.028. What is section 497.028? ...the office “shall” send copies of the catalogues to all agencies and make catalogues available to political subdivisions. Nowhere in the Texas government code does it say who these political subdivisions are. No one can audit TDCJ but TDCJ, §493.0052 internal audit division. By law signed by George Bush before he left to Washington. No one, not even the governor of this state knows where TDCJ spends its money. Taxpayer money or not! The Comptroller “will not” answer questions on this issue, regardless of who’s asking the questions.

By law §497.095 inmates work-record, TDCJ is supposed to keep track of your work doctrine. Yet, when we ask for a copy of where and how long we have worked at a job we only hear the crickets chirping. We are supposed to receive OJT certificates for work we do. But, that doesn’t always happen. In theory, it sounds good right? Especially since TDCJ pimps us out to private business. Under §497.006 contracts with private business and 497.091 contracts for inmate labor, we at least are supposed to have our work kept in a file under §497.095 inmate’s work record. The reason this is important is upon our release we will have something to show a potential employer. If you’re ever hurt working for TDCJ/factory/private business you are not allowed to be compensated for your injury. Yes, the Puppetmasters thought of this also. §497.096 Liability protections- Moncada v. Brown. 202sw,3d 794 (Tex. App-San Antonio) Moncada and TDCJ are “immune” from suit, if they can prove they did not act with intentional, willful, or wanton negligence or reckless disregard.

These are referred to as “immunity promises”. Basically, what the state will show is their officers IQ test scores, which will demonstrate that the officer has an extremely low IQ. Then the state will show the judge his or her education level. Naturally, the judge will review these test scores and remedial school records and dismiss the lawsuit. TDCJ cannot refuse to employ anyone due to physical or mental deficiencies. Of course, the Puppetmasters have taken full advantage of this loophole. By donning a TDCJ uniform, many officers believe that they are smarter now than everyone else. This only adds to the madhouse. Now let’s see where this is all going. 

Texas government code chapter 493. Texas Department of Criminal Justice: organization (mafia). What are the duties of these pretenders? §494.001 institutional division mission: the mission of the institutional division is to “provide” safe and appropriate confinement, supervision, rehabilitation, and reintegration of adult felons and to effectively manage or administer correctional facilities based on “constitutional” and statutory standards. Does that include Scott v. Britton, 16 s.w. 3rd (App.1 Dist.2000) when a bus broke down and an inmate died from a heatstroke? Now, TDCJ will argue that their mission statement is being followed. It is, if you’re talking about appropriate confinement. Because the rest of the mission falls under “Mission Impossible.” Why would TDCJ get rid of its free labor force? Does anyone realize how talented and resourceful Texas prisoners are? If a plantation owner sold off all his best “slaves”, how would he stay in business? Not very long, you’d think?

Look at what they sold to the taxpayers. Texas prisoners have not had a protected right to accumulate good time credit since 1977! Hallmark v. Johnson, 118 F.3d 1073, 1079 (5th cir. Tex.) cir. stat. Ann. art; 618-1, § (Vernon 1988), see also Tex. gov.’t code Ann. §498.003 (a)(Vernon Supp. 2004). Oops, did I say that! I wonder what political subdivision talked their fellow constituents into this piece of the pie? Garret v. state, 768 s.w.2d 943, 946-47 (Tex.App.- Amaello, 1989), affirmed, 791 s.w.2d 137(Tex.crim.App. 1990) That Texas “Legislature” has authorized the Board of Pardons and paroles with the power to grant or deny parole. Tex.Gov.code Ann: §508.141 (Vernon 1998). Once TDCJ and the Parole Board dissolved good time credit, they shifted into Full Time Plantation Owner Mode. With the Legislature backing their double-dealing ways. How could they lose? They couldn’t. Now that the facade of rehabilitation and criminal reform is exposed. What are you willing to do to correct this constitutional abomination?

The more I write about this corrupt system the more I am in disbelief over the treatment of the prisoners. How on earth could a prison system like this be allowed to operate in the United States of America? How can a country that’s so outspoken and critical of prisoners in other countries not see what has happened and continues to happen to the men and women inside the one-hundred nine prisons operating in this state? To this very day the abuse continues. They use their positions not to rehabilitate but to institutionalize and enslave the inmates for the rest of their lives. To the politicians and Governor of Texas, Please see this prison system for what it is, a legalized slave system that’s been allowed to operate for way too long. I’m asking the high officials in Washington to please make sure this stops. Help your own American people right here in our country.

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