New TDCJ visitation/mail policies punitive and arbitrary

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is changing its visitation, mail and commissary policies for Texas prison inmates in ways which seem arbitrary and unnecessary.

Let’s start with visitation. TDCJ will begin running a drug-sniffing dog past all potential visitors, even children, and deny entry if the dogs alert. If a dog alerts twice, that person will be denied entry permanently.

The move is being billed as preventing contraband smuggling, but that doesn’t justify it. For starters, nearly all the contraband smuggling is done by guards, and the biggest problem is the agency can’t fire them because they wouldn’t have enough people to staff the prisons.

Consider this example from the French Robertson Unit in Abilene last year:

A list obtained by KTXS from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) said that 51 French Robertson Unit staff members were disciplined and one of those staff members was fired for bringing in contraband between January 1, 2013 to July 3, 2019, a six-and-a-half-year span.

Moreover,

The TDCJ also said that out of the 400 staff members at the French Robertson Unit, the number of contraband disciplines “are below average for disciplinary action and contraband issues as compared to the other 103 state prisons in Texas.” 

So one staffer out of 400 was fired for bringing in contraband to the prison, while 51 were allowed to continue working there. And that’s “below average” for other units. So it takes a lot of chutzpah for TDCJ to blame families for contraband! That’s absurd.

Anyway, why not just run the drug dog past inmates before they go back to their cell, or search them, for that matter, if need be. If you’re trying to find contraband, the policy makes no sense.

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Bootleg film shows Florida prison in all its danger, squalor. An inmate shot it on the sly

Scott Whitney, inmate No. U21924, filmed a documentary on the Florida prison system and nobody knew.

At least the guards didn’t.

Over a period of years, the convicted drug trafficker used specially rigged, almost cartoonishly oversize eyeglasses fitted with hidden cameras and a hollowed-out Bible with a lens peeking through the O in HOLY to capture the gritty, ugly, violent world inside Martin Correctional Institution, one of Florida’s more notoriously dangerous prisons.

The video was smuggled out of the prison and given to the Miami Herald.
Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/special-reports/florida-prisons/article235623292.html#storylink=cpy

Meat Executives Plead Guilty to Selling Bad Beef to 32 Prisons

Two meatpacking plant executives pleaded guilty Tuesday to their role in a scheme to sell 800,000 pounds of adulterated meat to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.

According to plea papers, the two men admitted to selling uninspected, misbranded, or adulterated meat–including whole cow hearts labeled as “ground beef”–to 32 prisons in 18 states.

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I Host a Popular Podcast. I’m Also in Prison.

he sun shines brightly through the gated windows so I grab a pair of Sony headphones and the Tascam (a portable audio recorder) and leave the office with my co-worker, John “Yahya” Johnson, an intellectual Muslim brother out of Oakland. Curious as to how many people behind bars have seen the romance movie “The Notebook,” we venture outside to the yard to find out. I walk up to the first guy I see, someone waiting on the sidelines to play basketball. 

“Hey man, can I interview you about the classic romance movie called ‘The Notebook?’”

“I’ve never seen ‘The Notebook.’” 

“So what’s the best romance movie you have seen?” 

“’Baby Boy.’” 

I laugh because Baby Boy, an urban tale about a childish young man who needs to grow up in order to raise his son alongside the mother, is not what I would consider a classic romance movie. 

Then I remove a release form (to have the man I’d just interviewed sign) from a green binder with an Ear Hustle logo stuck on the cover.

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In My Prison, Summer is “Ticket Season”

“If you move the wrong way—ticket. You look the wrong way—ticket. Breathe—ticket.”

There isn’t much that we can do here in a Level 5 maximum-security prison—which is where they send us unmanageable inmates, to seclude us even further. So I write, read, watch TV and occasionally look out my window, watching the prisoners from the other part of the facility out on the yard: their gatherings, their ball games, the new faces.

All of this I do to pass the time before “the Rush.” You’d think the Rush would mean gang jumpings, stabbings, someone sneaking up you, etc.— which all happens, but that’s not what I’m talking about. No, this is about officers obsessively writing tickets. These are the little infractions that keep us in line, the same as the parking or speeding tickets that police stop civilians for. If you’re not liked—ticket. If you move the wrong way—ticket. You look the wrong way—ticket. Breathe—ticket. And instead of paying a fine or fee to the court system, we lose our appliances and our right to participate in all activities. READ THE REST