V’s World

By Jay Goodman

I have seen the damage the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has caused every day. Everywhere around me I see the eyes of the men who have spent decades in isolation, or the men who survived the gang wars. I’ve seen men that were stabbed all over their bodies. Who lost an eye, lung, spleen, ear, and needless, to say this changed them forever. I know men who have survived beatings from the turnkey days, and also men who survived savage beatings from the guards and ranking officers. Sometimes the damage is not visible, but you can look at a person and see no physical scars whatsoever. But after I have spent some time around certain people, I can slowly begin to see the sociological damage this prison system has caused on them. I have looked, at these men and wondered which did the most damage, the physical or the long term mental? Even though many I’m sure would pick physical, I truly, believe the mental destroys a man’s spirit and soul much worse.

In some ways, I did not, want to write this next chapter, because the man I am going to, use is a friend of mine. I have even written about him and his experiences in past chapters. I’ve even started to write this chapter and stopped, because I knew some day he would read my book “The Puppetmasters”, and I did not want him to think that I thought less of him because of what he’s gone through. There are times I’ve looked at this guy and felt sorrow for him. And there have been times I looked at him and felt anger, because of his ignorant decisions. And there have been times that I’ve looked at him and have seen not only his artistic abilities, but his understanding of how to create an idea that could possibly turn him into a millionaire. When I have seen this side him, I have often wondered, why he always does the stupidest sh-- that holds him back from leaving prison, and instead putting his ideas to use. People may even read this and say, well, you are no better than your friend, because you are sitting in prison with him. I am not writing this chapter to belittle my friend because I feel I am any better than him. I want to show how this prison systems cares nothing about rehabilitating the men that, enters its doors.

Everyone calls my friend, “V”. V has been incarcerated over 25 years now. He was arrested when he was 17 years old, and shortly after coming to prison he joined a prison gang. And not long afterward was sent to isolation for 13 years.

I met V back in 2015, my first impression was to stay away from him, because my gut instinct did not care for him. We lived in the same cell block together and eventually ended up having a conversation about a book he saw me reading about the stock market. We ended up talking for an hour or so and afterwards I must admit I looked at V much differently. Not to say my gut instinct was wrong, because it was perfectly right about him. Even though I did see from our long conversation that. V does have a drive to learn and do good. Although he was still stuck in his old ways of thinking, and it showed in his actions inside our cell block. But I love to show people the things I’ve learned about the stock market, I  always try to teach anyone who wants to learn. I am believer in you will get what you give. 

Some people eventually told V about me writing a book about the Texas prison system, and we had another long conversation about what I had written and I started to share one of these stories with him. And before, I knew it, V was at my cell door for hours each day. At this time, I was writing two chapters on the long terms effects of what happens to men after decades in isolation. V started telling  me about his 13 years in there, and I used some of his experiences in one of the chapters. V also started to share his past, how he was constantly in and out of trouble from being a young kid until he was finally arrested as a teenager. His story was like a lot of kids that grew up at the border of Mexico. He has family in Mexico and in Texas. He started using drugs at a young age, and before long was running around with a local gang. His mother worked at the court house, and because of her knowing the judge and prosecutors was able to get V out of a lot of trouble. V told me haw his Mother, tried hard to keep him out of the gangs. She even moved to a different part of town hoping that by distancing him away from the gang would solve the problem. But it didn’t, he continued getting kicked out of every school he went to. By the time V reached 17, he also had two girls pregnant. As hard as V’s mom and his girlfriends tried to talk to him about not running around with the gang, the more he spiraled out of control and like all people who run with gangs there are only two endings, death or prison luck for V it was prison.

V and several of his gang members were picked up and taken in for a hand full of serious charges. Several of the boys were already adults, and a few were younger. The local prosecutor went to see V, and she naturally knew his Mom and was there to try and save him from a lifetime of prison. She even told him the other boys were blaming him, but he would not listen. She kept saying, “this isn’t a game young man, am here to save you.” But he would not listen. His mother even went to the jail and tried to convince him to tell who did it, but once again no luck, he wouldn’t budge. Now his girlfriend tried to convince him, she said, “think about me and the baby.” But he would still not listen. When it was time for the trial, V stepped inside the court room, and there was his gang waiting to testify. He received 30 years. After coming to prison V’s decision making continued to be bad in every area.

Now while I do blame V for his poor decision making, at this point I blame also the Texas prison system. Here this 17-year-old kid shows up; yes, he has some serious charges, yes, he may act like an idiot, but he is still young enough to mold into a different man. I am asking the people reading this to think back to when you were 17. While most will say, I was not breaking the law, OK, but was your decision making that of an adult. For most it Was not. And this is where Texas really drops the ball. Instead of trying to reach these kids and help them become respectable citizens, they will shove them in a maximum, security prison that’s infested with drugs and gangs. Not some punk street gang, but gangs that are involved in. criminal activity in here and out in the world. Gangs that are smart enough to scare these young men into joining, then using them to extort, assault, and murder. But this is what I have said in many of my chapters. The. Texas prison system knows this, but their goal is not to ever under any circumstance rehabilitate anyone. They look at my friend as a lifetime asset. They know damn well what’s going to happen to him when he gets to the max. unit. Of course, they will deny and say, how do we know what’s going to happen? Because it’s been happening for decades. But the Puppetmasters want this to happen, and they planned it to happen.

V followed the Puppetmasters step by step blue print of a life inside their prison system. V joined a gang, then of course it was off to isolation, in a cell by himself to further destroy him mentally. He thanked God, and did teach himself how to read and draw. With everything I just wrote about V, he was able to tap into some positive things and eventually leave the gang life behind. But, by now V’s thinking pattern was set on being a criminal. So even though he left the gang, he was still stuck on getting high, drinking, and being involved with hustling inside these fences. One would assume, since V had some education behind him now, and tapped into his artistic ability, plus had enough sense to leave the gang life that he would of left isolation and spent these last 10 to 12 years doing everything in his power to grow. But that would not be the case.

One day a few years ago V showed me a letter that his old girlfriend had written him 23 years ago. She talked a lot about his choice to leave her and their unborn baby for his loyalty to his gang. I was impressed with this letter, because it was just a young girl who saw clearly the bad choices he had made. V also told me that his mother had come to see him and said, “you have always put your gang before me, I am the one who sent you money and have come all of these years to see you. When are you going to put me first?”

Finally, after more than 24 years of incarceration V saw the Parole Commissioner from Austin. Shortly afterwards he received parole. At this time he was telling me that he had something going on with one of the female guards who worked here. I told him,” V, what are you thinking about?” Re has always had the attitude that he cannot get caught, or they can’t prove it. V had already been in the system for a quarter of a century. I talked to him a lot about the Puppetmasters and their agenda. I explained how this female guard really did not care about him, and that she had a husband that also worked here, “if she’ll cheat on him after 14 years together, what do you think she’ll do to you?” I pleaded with him to look at the big picture, and that was going home to be with his mom and his two sons. He would say, “you’re right Jay.” But of course, he kept up with the same thing. And as I tried to tell him he got in trouble. He had left the prison and made it all the way to where they release the prisoners. But they put him back on the bus and sent him right back here with a fresh 3 year set off. The insanity of that whole situation still blows me away. Here a man is leaving prison after 25 years, but cannot and will not do the right thing? I always have told him he lives in “V’s World”. It’s a world where absolutely nothing matters, except what he thinks or believes is right. Nothing at all is above V, not his mom, sister, his sons, or his grandchildren.

Now he has around 26 years in prison, and he still continues down the path of destruction. And even though I hate to make this sound like I’m mad at him, truthfully, I’m not. V is my friend. Many of the officers have asked me, why do you talk to this guy? Once he was my cellie, a female guard stopped at count time and said, “Oh God Goodman, this guy is trash, I feel sorry for you.” But, I have seen another side of I and this is where I blame the Texas prison system. They received a 17-year-old kid 26 years ago and shoved him in with the wolves. Never did they even try to rehabilitate this kid. Not Once!

Now by the time he finishes up his 30-year sentence he will be almost 50 years old. Every time I look at him, I cannot help but to be sad, and also upset with a system that cares nothing for the men and women that come here. To them we are their personal slaves. And nothing more than a body to fill their prison cells and industries. Just another day at the office for “The Puppetmasters”.

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