The Other Side Of The Coin

In my past chapters, I have talked a lot about the abuses in the Texas prison system. I have spoken about the gang wars that have left prisoners stabbed, beat or killed. And before I continue on through the later part of the 1990s into the 2000s, I decided to give the readers another side of the prisoners that are in here. Yes, there are people in here that have changed. Yes, there are people in here that are doing everything they can, or that is available to them, to change. Unfortunately, the TV shows, Hollywood movies, books, news reports, magazine articles and even books only report the negative things that go on in here. This is especially true of the prison officials, because people want to see and read about sensationalism these days.

I understand that these things are what sell. I also understand that the people controlling the Texas prison system do not want to report the tens of thousands of prisoners in here that are doing good, because the Puppetmasters would never want anyone in society to believe that there are men and women that are getting rehabilitated.

I used to ask myself, years ago, why the Puppetmasters didn’t offer certain types of programs that would help prisoners And this is naturally easy to answer now that I understand the Puppetmasters. They don’t want rehabilitation. They want slaves. To show the public that there are people in prison with great, yes, great potential to do wonderful things in life, would mean that someone might decide, “Hey, let’s start taking the prisons in another direction.” The Puppetmasters never want anyone, ever, to entertain that idea, because as I said before, the Texas prison system is an industry. Do they have GED classes, and some vocational classes? Yes. There’re also AA and few other programs, but over all, not much really to rehabilitate prisoners in Texas.

I want all of the people reading this to understand that the women and men in prison are capable of doing anything they set their minds to. I have spoken about a lot of the craziness and madness- the acts of violence. Those people are only a small percentage compared to the people that are doing good. Please, never think that all the poeple in prison are worthless, because with the right help and rehabilitation, I am confident that half of this prison population could be set free and stay out of prison for ever. Truthfully, I believe more. Can you imagine one hundred and eighty thousand prisoners cut in half? Ninety thousand or even less?

In my chapter “Super Seg II”, I spoke of a very high ranking criminal justice official, Rick Raemisch, who was the Executive Director of the Colorado Deptartment of Corrections. He pushed for reform, with great success, I might add. In 2011, his solitary confinement had 1,500 inmates, but now that number has been reduced to 160. That’s incredible. As I said, Mr. Raemisch took major steps when he took the reigns of their prison system. He started new programs and has reduced the rate of recidivism by 40%. And all of this was done in a very short amount of time.

Now, imagine the long-term effect of Mr. Raemisch’s program. Imagine ten to twenty years from now. This one man alone should prove that rehabilitation is the key to solving the problem of swollen prison populations. Now, of course, the Puppetmasters will have a thousand reasons why this cannot work. They are scared to death that someone will come along that will start the programs and will reduce their free labor force. Please allow me to give you another look at the inmates inside the Texas prison system.

Let’s start by going inside the Stevenson Unit here in Cuero, Texas. Thereare one thousand three hundred-ninety prisoners, give or take a few people in here. Monday to Friday, our day usually begins at around three A.M. Prisoners are going to work in laundry. They;ll be washing thousand of shirts, pants, boxers, socks, towels and sheets. Of course, all of the officers’ uniforms and their families’ personal clothes get washed, too. The prisoners also press their uniforms. The officers will go to the Officer’s Dining Room where inmates will begin cooking for all of them and the other free-world employees of the prison such as factory workers, teachers, medical staff, etc. Also, prisoners will be going outside the fence to work in towns, going all over the state to deliver food, help cut grass and clean up along roadsides and in parks, build or maintain ballparks and hiking trails. And there are inmates in here with every kind of skill you can possibly imagine. There are electricians, plumbers, carpenters, brick layers, heavy-equipment operators, landscapers, mechanics, auto-body specialists, painters, and every other kind of skill you can think of. Moreover, remember, we are still sons, daughters, husbands, and wives, fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers. We bleed. We hurt. We cry. We suffer when those we love die. In other words, we are still human beings, just like you. We are no different other than in that we broke a law.

Now that I have given a very small example of the skills and people that are in here, I have to wonder if anyone has ever considered why people come to prison, why people get out and come back. Here is the number one culprit- drugs. Listen to my words of wisdom. I would say 95 percent of prisoners are behind bars because of drugs. They are in here for selling drugs, using drugs, or committing crimes that will support their drug habbit. When I read in papers or see a news program on TV that says this man or woman has just got arrested for whatever reason, and has already been to prison before, I have always wondered why no one asks these people, “Hey! Why do you keep doing this?”Doesn’t it seem like a logical question? Surely, someone running the prison system should have figured this out by now. But wait. Believe me, the Puppetmasters already HAVE asked AND answered this question, and that’s why there’s no focus on it in here. Remember that drug addiction is a disease- a deadly disease that affects people from every walk of life. Actors and musicians, athletes and aesthetics, the poor, the middle class and the rich, the famous and the unknown have all been affected by this scourge. Robert Downey, Jr. went to prison. Prince just died from a heroine overdose. Think for a moment of all the people, of all the families, that you know personally that have been adversely affected in some way by the drug epidemic. No one is immune from this deadly disease, and, of course, people in prison are no exception.

When people in the free world have a disease, whether it’s cancer, heart problems, or drug addiction, it has to be treated. If it isn’t, what happens? It gets worse. And if nothing else happens, it surely doesn’t get better. Now, wouldn’t it be wise to focus strongly on this issue while people are incarcerated, so that the recovery process can begin, and these people can get free from the prison system and stay clean? The answer is undeniably, yes.

Once again, I’m sure the Puppetmasters will say, “We can’t do this. The budget! Where will we get the money? We can’t afford this!” But, my question is, “How can you NOT afford this?!” I mean, beating the prisoners down physically, mentally, and emotionally- the current system- is not working at all! The only thing we have to show for the current system is a prison population that has ballooned to almost 200,000 prisoners. What’s next? Do we want another 100 prisons in the next round of construction? Do we want the population of the prisons to double again in 10 years? There has to be a better solution than this insane system that is in place here.

If I had a really good opportunity to sit down with someone that was new, who really wanted to fix this situation, I know without any doubt I could definitely, and I mean definitely, help cut this prison system in half. This would save the state literally hundreds of millions of dollars. The operational capacity of the TDCJ in 1992 was 61,645inmates. Today, it is over 165,000 men and women, NOT including transit, mental patients, and those hospitalized. Is this where we want to be 20 years from now?

While saving tons of money, the state could actually generate hundreds of millions in revenue by implementing my plan. I have given this a great deal of thought, and the crazy thing, it’s so easy. There are so many better solutions that would change the whole Texas prison system. Look at what that one man, Mr. Raemisch, did for the Colorado DOC. This one man had the cahones to go sit inside of a super max cell for 24 hours. ONE man was able to reduce their super seg population from 1500 to 160. Hell, we do everything bigger in Texas, don’t we?

Texas can, and Texas should, take another chance at an opportunity to turn this entire system around. It doesn’t make any sense to cling religiously to an old, out-moded, and failed sytem of incarceration. Everytime an ex-con goes back to prison, this system has failed. And there are so many better ways of doing things. It’s time to let go of the system of physical and mental abuse. It’s time to let go of the old “bossman” mentality. It’s time to let go of the slave-man way of thinking. It’s time for society to start thinking of Texas’s incarcerated citizens as flesh and blood human beings.

I want to end this chapter with proof that there are still good-hearted men and women even in Texas prisons. To tell you the truth, when I read the following, I admit that even I was surprised by the depth of feeling and the largesse of the numbers. Last year, after the Texas coast was devastated by the rains and flooding following in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in August, the incarcerated citizens of the Texas prisons felt the hurt and sadness that moved so many others as we watched our fellow citizens suffer and struggle to regain their lives. Amazingly, TDCJ offenders were given the opportunity to help in a way that could include everybody.

The commissary added a special item to the list of things we could purchase- Red Cross donation for the relief efforts. n one short month, from August 31 to September 30, TDCJ prisoners gave $53,863. When you think of how little people in here get, and the fact that the time for giving was so short, this is simply amazing. And this doesn’t even include the efforts of highly privileged prisoners who had the custody level clearances to work in the clean-up efforts on the outside. If a “special dispensation” had been granted to expand the available workforce of prisoners to include those with lower custody levels, I believe there would have been thousands of volunteers to help rebuild the lives of those affected.

her words, the only thing limiting the rehabilitation and civic efforts of the Texas prisoner, is opportunity.

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