The Price

By: Jay Goodman

Sometimes I wonder while sitting back and watching all of the madness transpire inside the Texas prison system if anyone ever really considers what's going to become of the years ahead if there are not some drastic changes made. The lock em up and beat the prisoners down in every way possible hasn't worked. The mass development of penitentiaries and building them into marketable industries has not been a success either. Well, I guess that's not exactly true, because it's a grand success for the Puppet Masters. They, of course, have gotten rich, along with their Wardens and several ranking officers putting their hands in the cookie jar. But, for all of the hundreds of thousands of men and women that have either passed through or are currently incarcerated in Texas, it has done little or nothing to change them into becoming more productive citizens. In fact, this whole system is set up to almost guarantee that every man and woman returns. I must admit it's worked very well as a whole. But, I seriously wonder if anyone really considers, at what price?

Everything we do or don't do in our lives has a price, whether it's good or bad. Have the individuals controlling this prison system ever considered the price that's going to be paid for allowing it to be run by criminals? When making a decision, the Native American people would ask themselves how their decisions today would affect their people seven generations into the future. With that in mind, look back at what I have written about, the information dating from the 1970's until now. That's four decades of madness. If it's allowed to continue, what's going to be the outcome in four more decades? No one can close their eyes to the fact that the system that has been used from that time until now, is a complete failure. Look back and realize that a very expensive price has been paid for this system.

Whether you are a doctor, lawyer, teacher or mechanic, a baker or a carpenter, president, warden, or even a mother and father, there is a price. Let's start with the doctor, inevitably, they have studied very hard, not just in high school, but also the long hours they've put in through college, way before their first surgery. Thousands of hours of reading and working thousands of hours as an intern. A lawyer also has to study for years and years before they can step inside a courtroom to trial a case by themselves. A teacher of course has to become an adept in several different subjects, this also taking years of study to achieve. To become a mechanic these days, due to all of the new and different types of vehicles being produced, they are constantly having to learn the latest upgrades to an ever increasing industry. A President is usually a man that has proven himself to be a man of integrity, one who is substantially educated, who understands the systematic structures of our country and can thoroughly take care of the responsibilities when dealing with other countries around the world. Even to reach the point of being able to run for the presidency, this person has spent several years involved in government and public service. And of course being a mother and a father is a giant responsibility. Parents spend their entire lives molding, teaching and loving their children.

I brought these things up because I wanted to inform you that no matter what position or what path we decide to take in life, a price must be paid to achieve our goals, big or small. In this chapter I want to not only talk about the people controlling our prison system and our public officials, but also all of the prisoners serving time in T.D.C.J. To take a look at the last four decades of Texas prisons, with the get tough on crime with longer prison sentences and the capitalization of the industry created by building so many prisons, what is the price that has been paid for this? The lock em up and throw away the key mentality took Texas, from having 20 units to one-hundred twelve, from forty thousand inmates to almost two-hundred thousand. First of all, it is said it costs around twenty some thousand dollars to house each man and woman per year. So, if I round it off and say just twenty thousand, back when there were only forty thousand inmates, it was roughly eight-hundred thousand for that year. Now, with close to two-hundred thousand inmates, that cost has jumped to four million. This only pertains to housing, this does not include medical expense, dental service or many of the other costs. That price has cost the state and government and more directly, the taxpayers over three million dollars. Believe me, truthfully it is much more than that.

Let's take a look at another cost, something much more important than money. Human beings. By building all of these prisons and locking these human beings away for decades, with little or no rehabilitation at all, has made tens of thousands of men and women, institutionalized. The sad thing is, that almost all of these people could be rehabilitated, given the right opportunities. As I have said over and over again, that is exactly what the Puppet Masters want, a lifetime supply of free laborers to work the industries they have created. But, at what price? No one is considering that, by keeping these men and women incarcerated for decades, instead of actually rehabilitating them. Mothers and fathers have lived the last years of their lives away from their children and prisoners wives and kids will get put on decades, who do you think pays for that? Eventually does what? Raises your taxes.

So now, the state and federal government, and taxpayers, are not just paying to incarcerate this one person. They are paying for him, his wife and his children. Please, before someone thinks what are we going to do just let everyone out and not having any kind of punishment for those who break the law? Of course not, I have said time and time again, there must be prisons. Yes, the men and women who commit crimes must answer for them. I am only saying there is more to the picture than just putting a man or woman in prison. So many who are incarcerated are kept way beyond the time they should be, yes, punishment was needed, but the state of Texas goes far overboard. By the time the person has finished his sentence, their punishment has turned into abuse. Please understand I am not speaking out for the inmates who have done nothing in here but get into more trouble. If a man WANTS to stay in prison, that's one thing. The state needs to look at the tens of thousands that have worked hard to change and have served their time needed to leave.

With all of those prisoners gone the state can focus on rehabilitating the others that seriously need help. Another price being paid is by the men and women who work for T.D.C.J. Due to all of the units being built, Texas has had to hire individuals that are not in truth, actually qualified to be a corrections officer. Some of these people have been placed in positions where they have been raped, severely beaten, and killed. It has not only cost the guard, but their families as well. Of course the Puppet Masters don't care if these guards get hurt or killed. In fact it gives them the opportunity to say, "Look at these animals, they need to be incarcerated, and we need more prisons." Naturally, they will not take the responsibility of the mistake for hiring these sixty-five-year-old, plus, individuals who have barely enough training to make a dog sit, let alone work in a maximum security prison. The price that's being paid for the "necessity" of all of these prisons, is much worse than I can explain in one chapter.

The effects are going to get worse and worse as the years pass by. In the long run, it's not only going to destroy the lives of the men and women in T.D.C.J, but their families as well. By keeping the prisoners incarcerated well past their eligibility for release, there are hundreds of thousands of children without a mother or father around. Statistics have proven when children are being raised without both parents, that child has a greater chance of dropping out of school, suffering emotional problems, joining gangs, and eventually going to prison. I also want to point out to all of the prisoners. It's way beyond time that everyone takes a serious look at the price YOU are paying. It's not just about coming to prison, it is much deeper than that.

I see good men all around me, I see a lot of talent and great potential being wasted. Too many get caught up in prison life and just accept the day to day drudgery without any thought of their future, or any thought of the price they will pay not just now, but when they leave this place. If you haven't done the things essential to change your life and thinking, this is just time wasted. Set goals. Just because someone is incarcerated doesn't mean you can not do great things. Singleness of purpose is so important in life. But, you must start training yourself in here. If you study the lives of extraordinary people, you will discover that they are all marked by these two qualities. This singleness of purpose will save you from wasting your life in shallow and superficial activities, that mean almost nothing to anyone. And of course, wasting your time and life in prison. When you have singleness of purpose, your life moves you in the direction of your goal. When you don't have it, you will get lost in a world of nothing. The world WILL get out of your way if you know where you are going.

Start today by thinking about the price you have paid and are still paying. Start thinking about what you want in life and start setting goals for yourself. Remember thought determines action, and before too long, you will start living out what has already happened in your mind. Our thoughts are creative. What you think becomes reality. What you allow to occupy your mind, forms the reality of your life. Good or bad, everything happens in your mind before it happens in time. Now of course I want to ask the public officials to start thinking about the price that's being paid by allowing all of these men and women to just sit here in prison far beyond the time that they should.

It's not just about money, it's foremost about humanity. If the people were released that have served their time eligibility, lots of money could be saved, and programs could be started that can help rehabilitate the seriously ambitious prisoners. Your goal as public officials should always be to improve the conditions in these prisons, and enhance the quality of life. When you start focusing on rehabilitation instead of institutionalization, you will see in the end the price for helping to improve human life instead of enslaving it, will be a price that all of you will be proud of.

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