Tearing Down of an Innocent Man

By Jay Goodman

          Throughout my book, I have written about the atrocities that have taken place, and continue to take place, inside the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system. This prison system has one mindset, to run this criminal organization, and keep it this way, no matter at what cost. Every person in here who has some years behind them, has stories of the abuses they’ve seen or experienced.

`A lot of people know that I am writing this book, and have come to me with incidents that have happened to them. Nothing surprises me anymore. The emotional anger I feel sometimes while listening can take a lot out of me.

          Which brings me next, to this young man’s story, that I am going to write about in this chapter. I met this young man a few months ago, his name is Jovell Dennis. I usually avoid most men 30 years or younger in prison. Because most of them have nothing positive on their mind, except doing the same thing in here that lead them to prison in the first place. When Jovell, who is 36, moved into the cell block I live in, within a month, I noticed he was a good younger man. He always spoke to me with a lot of respect and to the staff as well. I heard him speak to other people about God. I saw how he also likes to work out and spend his day, always in a positive way. One day, a month or so ago, I finally had an opportunity to sit down with this young man. He then told me the story that lead him from the Ramsey III/Terrel Unit, to the Stevenson Unit, here with me.

          Jovell, as I described him earlier, was a model inmate. He was sent to Ramsey III to take a college course and receive a BA in Christian Leadership. He was also a teacher’s aide in welding while at the Ramsey III Unit. Jovell has nine years of incarceration behind him without one major case of any kind. The only minor cases he ever received was for having a clothes line up past 6:00 am and another case for having his shirt off in the day room. Truly very impressive for a youngster in prison these days. Listening to his story up until this point, confirmed my opinion that I had made of Jovell before we met, he is a good young man.

          On September 25, 2018, Jovell Dennis woke up at 5:00 am to start getting ready to leave for his job as a teacher’s aide in the welding shop. Even though he did not have to leave until 7:45 am, he would get up early to study his college course and spend some time praying. Once Jovell arrived at his job site, he was told of a shipment of metal and other supplies that would be coming soon. Now, he began helping and giving pointers to the level 2 students. By 12:00 pm, he was informed that the shipment was there, and once inside he started cutting 42-foot pipes in half. After a while, he saw Major Blake go into his supervisor's office. Within a few minutes, the supervisor signaled for Jovell to come to the office. Once inside, they strip-searched him, and the Major says to check all of his little pockets of his clothing. Of course by now, Jovell is not understanding what’s happening. The Major calls for the G.I. (Gang Intelligence Officer), who was told to take Jovell to isolation. The G.I. then asks him for his I.D. and how long he has been there at the Unit. When he checks the computer, he said, I see you’ve been here almost four years, I have never once heard of you. You would of course believe, that once he saw Jovell had been incarcerated for nine years, and that four of those years he had spent there without any incidents, that maybe whatever he is being accused of, might not be true. Over the next week he was humiliated, belittled, and treated unconstitutionally, by Assistant Warden Patrick and Major Blake. Then, on October 2nd, he received a disciplinary case for the distribution of money and drugs inside a penal institution. Jovell asked, how could this be? I’ve never had anything to do with bringing drugs inside any prison. And needless to say, I have never been caught with money or drugs? That’s when he was told that a note was found with his name and TDCJ number on it. He said, “that’s impossible, please give me a handwriting test”. Then the Major said, “we know you did not write the note.” Of course, one would assume, if you know that he did not write this note, then why are you writing me a disciplinary report? Then on October 11th, there was a hearing on Jovell’s disciplinary case. The Major, who was outside of isolation, claimed to have heard him yelling, “They don’t have any evidence.” But, both officers that were working inside isolation never heard Jovell say a word. Let’s just say for a moment that Jovell did say, “There’s no evidence.” Well, there is no money and no drugs, there is a note that was supposedly found in a hand dryer. The Major also said he knew Jovell never wrote the note. Well, I would have to say, if Jovell did say, there isn’t any evidence, he was 100% correct. The Disciplinary Hearing Officer, Captain Watkins, doesn’t dismiss the case. He drops it to possession of contraband, which he claims is fit. Jovell said, “Sir, there was nothing found in my possession, even the note was found in a hand dryer. Why are you doing this to me?” All the Captain did was look at the Major and smile.

          A week or so later Jovell saw the Head Warden Comestock-King, walking around isolation. Jovell then asked to speak to her. When she stopped to speak to him, he explained everything that had happened. And she said he got lucky, because he should have been found guilty of the original case. Then he is taken to classification and is put in medium custody, which is a form of isolation. And then is shipped off Ramsey III and moved to the Stevenson Unit. Jovell sat in isolation for almost two months. Then had to stay in medium custody here at Stevenson for 85 days. Also, before Jovell left the Ramsey III Unit, he found out, that another prisoner that also worked with him at the welding shop, named Rodney Wood, wanted to get rid of Jovell. Because, he wanted Jovell’s job position, and he was the one who planted the note. Now at this time, Jovell was three years into his B.A., which was now gone. He was also denied his first parole, because of the disciplinary case, that Captain Watkins found him guilty of. All of this could have been avoided. How? If all of the ranking officers and both wardens would have done their jobs.

          This is a classic case of everyone that’s in a high position throughout the entire prison system abuses their authority. I mean, look at this one case, and think about everything I’ve written about in my book. You’ll see that this isn’t just one isolated case. This type of abuse goes on in every prison. I cannot help but wonder, if Major Blake, Assistant Warden Patrick, and the Head Warden Comstock-King, looked on the computer and saw that Jovell was a model prisoner. Then saw, that once he left prison, that his chance of ever returning, was little or none. So they told Captain Watkins to find him guilty. Why? Like I keep saying, over and over again. They have to keep all of these prisons full, to keep them open. Please always remember this. If Texas was to let the prisoners out who have conducted themselves like this young man, Jovell Dennis has the last nine years, they would have to shut down over half of the Texas prison system instantly. Because, there are tens of thousands of prisoners sitting throughout the state who have worked hard to change, and have done everything in their power to go home.

          The Puppetmasters understand this very well. That is why they have come up with the quota system. Where every guard had to write two disciplinary cases every day. That is also why, when you see people like Jovell, who is obviously innocent, then found guilty of something they haven’t done. It’s to ensure that these prisons stay full to capacity. These people are to keep every prisoner here, no matter what they have to do. If they have to plant weapons, drugs, write false disciplinary reports, no problem. No matter what an officer or ranking officer says, no matter if there’s no evidence, they know the disciplinary hearing office will find you guilty.

          With this chapter I am going to send the disciplinary case Jovell received, you will see that, Major Blake said, he heard Jovell yelling to two other prisoners in isolation about the ongoing investigation. As I said earlier, Jovell said, “there’s no evidence.” Well, there’s no drugs, no money. Also, there’s always guards sitting in isolation and can hear everything inmates are saying, because everyone is in separate cells. There was this note that was supposedly found with his name and TDCJ number. “No one” in prison is going to write their name and TDCJ number on anything, especially a note that’s conducting criminal activity. Everybody in prison has a nick-name. The Major says he knew that Jovell did not write the note. I also have letters from the Ombudsman office, which is an outside agency that our family or friends can go to if something happens to us in here. But, from my own personal experience the Ombudsman office, is only there for show, it’s part of the same corrupt system. Do they do their own personal investigation when something happens, like in Jovell’s case? “NO!” They e-mail the prison and count on them to do the investigation. Now call me stupid. But, you are going to let the same people you are saying abused you, beat you, plant drugs, or weapons on you, and falsified state documentation, do their own investigation? And you expect to get an honest investigation? And last, you can read Jovell’s Step 1, and Step 2 Grievances, and read with your own eyes the worthlessness of our Grievance System. Remember once again, it’s the same prison Grievance Officer doing the investigation. And its family members or their friends that are the Grievance Officer. What do you think is going to happen? No drugs or money, no evidence was ever found, but Jovell is found guilty. A model prisoner for almost a decade, abused in every way, and for what? To keep these prisons full.

          There was no reason not to believe this young man, no trouble in 9 years, teacher’s aide, one year from his B.A., eligible for parole. Jovell had proven himself, without a doubt. Jovell told me, more than anything, he wanted his mother and father to be proud of him. And hearing him say that, choked me up, because I understand the importance of that more than he could ever know. Because I lost both of my parents sitting in prison. I have wished a thousand times that my parents could see the man I am today. Jovell’s mom and dad have a lot to be proud of. You truly have a good son and you should be very proud of him.

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