Parole After 15 Years

By Jay Goodman

I have been incarcerated for 15 years and three months right now. At times it seems to have gone by fast and it other times it seemed like it’s been eternity. I needed to have 15 years completed before I was eligible for parole, I finally saw the Texas parole board member February 6 and received a parole the very next day on the seventh, which needless to say was a shock. Why? Most prisoners wait weeks if not months to receive their answer. I have done everything in my power to better myself in every way possible the last 15 years. I’ve stayed in great shape, I’ve taken courses, I’ve read the whole Bible from start to finish several times, I’ve learned to draw, and I’ve written a book called Angie story that I’m very proud of. But I learned A long time ago it really does not matter how well a person is done in Texas, almost no one makes their first parole. And seeing this over the last 15 years I must admit my hopes to receive my first parole we’re not too high. Believe it or not I have a few friends in here who seem to have some kind of sixth sense that I would get parole. One guy used to tell me every day, “you are going to get an F - I - 1 which is the best type of parole any prisoner can receive,” And damn if he wasn’t right. Another friend of mine sent me an email informing me I receive payroll. It was late at night and the first thing I did was get on my knees and then God for blessing me and showing me a favor. I cannot begin to explain how important this parole was for me. I am 55 years old and have just spent the last 15 in prison. I received a 30-year sentence from the courts, so Texas could’ve kept me the other 15.

Also, I have a parole violation in Ohio plus a little over 10 years waiting in federal prison. So needless to say paroling out of Texas was a blessing. A big a blessing as this is for me, I must admit, I have gone through an emotional ride ever since I receive my parole. In my book the Puppetmasters, I have written a lot about what happens to people who have spent too many years in prison. I have read a lot of books and studied the effects of long-term incarceration, but even with the understanding I have I am experiencing many different issues due to my 15 years behind bars.

For one I have always believed that since I have studied the effects of long-term incarceration and understand what it does to people that I would be immune from it. Boy, was I wrong exclamation and I guess the only way for me to explain this is, thousands of our American men and women have come back from war that never got physically hurt. But they suffer emotionally from seeing others around them getting hurt or being killed. There is also the loss of being away from everyone who they love. PTSD is something that takes total control over who we are. It becomes a part of how we feel and how we think, and how we act.

The type of parole I received on February 7 means I would be released within 30 to 45 days. But because of the detainers I have I figured it would take a little longer for them to get the paperwork in order. I am sure most people would think after serving 15 years and they say it’s time to leave you could just drop everything you have and leave. Well, it’s not that simple. For one, I had a lot of stuff like certificates, dozens of pictures of my children and of my late mother, many many books that have help me grow as a human being, portraits are drawn, letters and cards for my kids and friends, Sam who died. Naturally, I had to get things in order to send these things out which believe me is not easy in here. Of course, there’s saying goodbye to my Sam who died. Naturally, I had to get things in order to send these things out which believe me is not easy in here. Of course, there’s saying goodbye to men You’ve known for decades. Some of these men are like your brothers, and leaving was a difficult situation because you know that some of them may never make it out alive, and there’s always the chance that some might get killed like so many others have. But light on March 8th around lock up, the guards came to my cell and told me I was leaving in the morning.

Now comes another realization, my last prison that I was at I was there for 11 straight years. I never once left to go anywhere whatsoever. This prison was called the Stevenson unit and buy Texas standards It’s a very small prison, for buildings were so blocks, and one dorm. So for the last 11 years all I did was walk outside the building to the rec yard, what are the chow hall which is around 100 yards from my building and back, and to the gym once every Monday for church which is around 50 yards.

Inside the fences of the Stevenson unit is all I saw for the last 11 years. So around 5 o’clock Monday morning on March 9 I boarded a bus and took my first ride in over a decade. I looked out the bus window at all the different cars, trucks, and SUVs. I didn’t even have any idea what maker model they were because I have been locked up for 15 years. It felt strange to see all of the people in their cars gas stations and stores coming and going. As we got on the highway and started the three-hour ride to the Darrington prison I felt excited to be outside of the prison I just spent the last 11 years. About an hour or so into my ride I saw my first sunrise in 15 years, it was truly an amazing feeling. I was so overwhelmed with emotion and how long it had been that I close my eyes and then God for allowing me to make my first parole. By 10 o’clock my short ride came to an end as the bus I was on a ride at the old rundown Darrington prison, where I was going to spend my next 24 hours until I caught my next bus ride to Huntsville to be released into either federal or the state of Ohio custody.

But the memory of that day and how it felt to see the free world again is something I’ll never forget. People in the free world will never truly understand what happens to a person that comes to prison for decades, how they lose touch with the world and the smallest of things that most people never even consider. That night I laid in myself thinking about everything I’ve missed the last 15 years. I felt so many different emotions, it seemed like my mind was racing 100 miles an hour. It took me forever to fall asleep, even then I never slept well.

The next morning when the guard told me to get ready, I was already up waiting to go. The only difference today was the bus didn’t leave Darrington prison with us until around 11. The bus constantly stops to drop people off at other presents or picking them up. So by the time we drove through Houston it was close to 2 o’clock. Once again to see people coming and going and all of the different cars and trucks and SUVs was a whole lot to take in. I also noticed that everyone I saw either driving or coming in and out of the stores was on the phone. The bus pass to park and I saw the kids playing in riding their bikes. To my surprise it seem like every single kid had a phone in their hand. As the bus pass or Houston, I tried my best to take everything in. To see people coming and going in the kids playing was a lot to take in. What most people don’t know or maybe a better word understand is that once a person goes to prison it’s like Time stand still. Don’t get me wrong, I have accomplished much and so do many other people in here. Life goes on in the free world, things change, but they can’t change in here. We continue to live in a time that we last seen when we got arrested. So if a person was arrested 25 years ago in 1995, in his mind that is how he will remember the world. So when we finally have an opportunity to see how much the world has changed, it’s a shock to our minds. I know people in here whose families live in other states and they haven’t seen their son or daughter since they were little kids. When they come to visit, the prisoner is in shock at how the children look.

As I said before, I read many books on what happens to people who are incarcerated for decades, I truly thought it would not affect me, because I understood it. But I see now there’s no way to get around it. People who come to prison for decades the system slowly steals apart they are very soul. As my bus pulled into the Walls unit in Huntsville, Texas my mind was racing in many different directions. I could feel how the years I spent in prison changed me. I was also excited about leaving the Texas prison system. I thought that I was leaving the next day, but as with all things in the Texas prisons there’s been a small problem that’s help me here for over a month. In my next chapter I’ll explain what that small something is in the hell they put me through since I’ve arrived here on March 10. Sometimes the end isn’t always the end when it comes to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

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