202 Chapters
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Medium 9781626562691

9 The Peace Room

Schenwar, Maya Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

When we think about the prison abolitionist movement ... it’s not “Tear down all prison walls tomorrow,” it’s “crowd out prisons” with other things that work effectively and bring communities together rather than destroying them.

—Andrea Smith, INCITE!: Women of Color Against Violence 1

As spring exhales its way into summer, I pay a visit to Manley High School in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood. In 2007, Manley logged the most “violent incidents” of any high school in the city—though of course such rankings will always be subjective, depending on which incidents are reported, which are dubbed violent, and who’s counting.2 Largely attended by black and Latino students, it’s prime ground for the school-to-prison pipeline, in which school-based arrests pave a quick path to early incarceration. Research by Project NIA found that about one out of five juvenile arrests in Chicago in 2010 took place at a school. Seventy-five percent of those arrested were black youth, even though black kids make up only 42 percent of the Chicago school system.3

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4 “Only Her First Bid”

Schenwar, Maya Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

I’ve got the prison thing down pat. I can get by in here. I’m not ready to die out there.

Kayla, spring of 2013

Eventually, some friends of Kayla’s do put up the $500 to get her out, and we return to a stasis of daily unpredictability. I check my phone compulsively, always anticipating word of a new arrest. The winter wears on, and I offer Kayla limp, token gestures of concern. I ask around about jobs at local restaurants, pick up some papers for her at the methadone clinic, say, “You can do it!” As I say this, I’m not exactly sure what “it” means.

We meet for lunch in late March, three months since she was last in jail, five months until the birth of her baby. Kayla moves and speaks—when she speaks—with an undercurrent of hopeless nausea. When I ask how things are going, she says “horrible.” I toss out a feeble comment about how the pizza place down the street has tacked up a “We’re Hiring” sign. Kayla nods and makes a note on her hand. She’s probably indulging me. A couple of weeks ago, she applied for a job at a home supply store, and they loved her and told her she had it, and then they did a background check. Bam. Of course, the odds were not in her favor. Recent Illinois statistics aren’t available, but in New York, 70 percent of parolees are not employed.1

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Medium 9781574411522

5 Work

Jorge Antonio Renaud University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter five



t comes as a shock to the mostly lazy, unskilled criminals who come into the Texas prison system that, unlike the federal system or most other state prisons, Texas inmates must work. And they do not get paid. Anything. (More on the financial situation in Chapter nine: Money.) Inside and outside, in snow and rain, day and night, whenever TDCJ needs something done, chances are that an inmate is assigned to do it.

Most inmates who are physically fit are first assigned to work in the fields, in what are called work squads, hoe squads, or sometimes just the

Line. The Line is not actually considered a job. It is a way of indoctrinating inmates—especially younger, first-time inmates—to the system, and it is punishment for inmates losing other jobs through disciplinary infractions. Sometimes, it is just punishment for angering the wrong officer.

On most units, the Line does field work. Inmates in the fields plant, weed, thin, and harvest fruits and vegetables. Texas prison crops range from watermelons, peanuts, eggplants, and beets to the more traditional vegetables and, of course, King Cotton.

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Medium 9781626562080

CHAPTER 3 From Commons to Capital

Capra, Fritjof Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The fundamental transformation in science that produced the mechanistic approach and its notion of the laws of nature finds striking parallels in the development of Western legal thought. Just as scientific thinkers following Galileo, Descartes, and Newton divided the whole into an aggregate of separate parts governed by strict laws of nature, legal scientists fragmented the medieval legal order, a holistic system that had adapted customary religious and Roman law materials to the practical requirements of flesh-and-blood human relationships. In the transition to modernity, Western legal scholars began to conceive of the law as an aggregate of discrete component parts governed by strict natural laws of individual reason. The ancient holistic vision of the world as a Kósmos, of the Earth as a generous gift of God to humankind as a whole and abundant commonwealth collectively accessible by all, was replaced by a humanist emphasis on the individual and human reason, which resulted in a mechanistic legal vision known as rationalist natural law.1

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Medium 9780253014825

5 Intercommunal Violence and the Sharī‘a

Wagner, Mark S. Indiana University Press PDF

Intercommunal Violence and the


Violence: Theory versus Practice

In theory, Muslims and Jews in Yemen could not behave violently toward one another. In practice, violence across the hierarchical boundaries between Muslim and Jew seems to have been relatively common. Jewish sources provide contradictory answers to the question of whether Yemen under the imāms was a particularly violent place. Some credit Imām Yahyā with the virtual elimination

˙ of crime through his focus on law and order. Others (some of the same people) describe numerous violent robberies, particularly attacks by tribesmen on traveling Jewish salesmen in unsettled areas.¹ Such merchants, who were often unarmed, seem to have made easy prey. Jews in the process of emigrating were likely to carry all of their worldly belongings with them. Sālim Mansūrah tells

˙ the story of two Jewish men who, having packed all of their things upon a pair of donkeys and setting off on the journey for Israel, were assaulted and robbed by the shaykh of their small village and some of his male relatives, who were armed with hatchets. The two wounded men headed straight to Imām Ah mad’s

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Chapter 7 – Medical/Dental

Jorge Antonio Renaud The University of North Texas Press ePub


medical and dental facilities

Because the medical care received in prison is such an important issue, this chapter is broken into two parts. The second, Appendix B, is taken word-for-word from the TDCD-ID Comprehensive Health Manual, and it outlines what services are available to Texas inmates. As you will see, they are impressive and are an enormously welcome improvement from the shockingly negligent system in place before Ruiz.

However, there is a huge gulf between what services are available and what services are actually provided. Many factors influence the quality of prison medicine, and the single biggest is the attitude I referred to in chapter one—the system cares little for inmates’ welfare except when it is possible that staff negligence may result in an inmate’s injury and death, and the system will then be held liable.

In this chapter I will again refer to Judge Justice’s March 1, 1999 order in Ruiz v. Johnson, 37 F. Supp 2d and 55 (S. D. Tex. 1999.) While Judge Justice did not find the medical practices unconstitutional, the testimony of expert and inmate witnesses, and the admissions of medical personnel and TDCJ officials, will help illustrate some of the problems I will point out.

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Chapter 22 – Emergencies

Jorge Antonio Renaud The University of North Texas Press ePub


what to do in emergencies

This topic was the birthing idea for this book. In January of 1993, my brother fell ill and my family was not only unsure how to contact me—they did not know the procedure to follow so that I might attend his funeral after he died. This hurt my family and myself deeply, that I could not be there to receive and give comfort. The Texas prison system places many conditions on this type of furlough, but it is allowed. But in such a situation, time is of the essence. If you want to get your relative out in time to see his dying mother, or to attend a memorial service for his daughter, then you must follow TDCJ guidelines, especially the guidelines that specify the people authorized to contact TDCJ with the details of a situation.

For TDCJ officials, this is an issue loaded with problems. Most state officials are sincerely sorry when tragedy befalls the family members of convicts and they do not want to seem heartless. However, security is a priority, and the system cannot allow just anyone to call and say, “John Doe’s mom is dying, can you let him come and see her? She’s his only relative.” While his mother may in fact be dying, and while she may in fact be his only relative, the state must have the paperwork to document her illness from a reputable physician in case the inmate is furloughed and something goes wrong during the furlough. He can commit a crime, try to escape, get into a violent episode during the ceremony, or be involved in any of a number of incidents that will reflect poorly on everyone involved.

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Medium 9781574411522

Appendix G Parole Officials

Jorge Antonio Renaud University of North Texas Press PDF

Appendix G

Parole Officials

There are two distinct entities that concern themselves with parole in

Texas—the Parole Division of the TDCJ and the Board of Pardons and

Paroles. The first agency actually oversees inmates who have been released. Ex-cons report to them, and it is their staffers who visit homes and ensure that the provisions of parole (set by the Board) are actually met. The second is an independent agency whose primary role is the discretionary release of inmates from prison, along with revocation of released prisoners.

You may reach the Parole Division at:

TDCJ-ID Parole Division

8610 Shoal Creek Blvd.

P.O. Box 13401, Capitol Station

Austin, TX 78711

(512) 406-5200

FAX (512) 406-5858

The members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles are appointed by the governor to six-year terms, which are staggered so all do not expire at the same time. You may write or call the Board members, or the chairman, at the following addresses:

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles

209 W. 14th Street, Suite 500

Austin, TX 78701

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Medium 9781626562691

Introduction Into the Hole

Schenwar, Maya Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

“Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!” I’m crying with my mother over the phone. It’s late evening, December 25, 2012, and Kayla,* my only sister and best friend, has been arrested for the seventh time in the past six years. She’s in jail again—and this time, we’re sort of hoping she’ll stay there. “If she asks,” I tell Mom, “I’m not bailing her out.”

“Well, you know we’re not,” Mom says, her voice low and far away, a weary echo of words uttered in months and years past. “If she’s in there, at least she’ll be safe.”

Jail, we agree, may be the only place that can save Kayla’s life, staving off her burning dependency on heroin. Neither of us acknowledges that regardless of whether Kayla stays clean while incarcerated, sooner or later she’ll be getting out.

“Do we know what she’s in for?” I ask Mom.

“Does it matter?”

I think of Kayla, cuffed and listless, being dragged through the doors of the Cook County Jail, catching the eyes of women she’s known before—in court, on the street, in juvenile detention, in jail, in prison. I wonder whether a part of her is relieved to be back.

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Medium 9781574414325

Chapter 1 – Diagnostic

Jorge Antonio Renaud The University of North Texas Press ePub



Since October 1, 1849, when a horse thief became the first person to be held in the state’s custody instead of by local law enforcement, Huntsville has been synonymous with Texas prisons. The beautiful town of Huntsville—nestled in the midst of the state’s most lovely forests; four votes from being state capital instead of Austin; adopted home of General Sam Houston—is, nonetheless, by virtue of that first prison, fated to always be linked with prisons in the minds of Texans. That unit, built in what would soon be downtown Huntsville and known as the Walls, also soon included the growing system’s administrative offices. Over a century later, as the system began to expand rapidly, it became obvious that a separate unit was needed as a processing center. The Diagnostic Unit, built in 1964 a few thousand yards from the original Walls, became that intake unit. While there are now other units that may also serve some of the functions as the Diagnostic Unit, (now called the Byrd Unit), it was the first, it remains the most thorough, and it is the one I will use as a model.

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Chapter 10 – Mail

Jorge Antonio Renaud The University of North Texas Press ePub



Inmates in TDCJ are allowed to receive mail from anyone in the world, without any restrictions on amounts of First Class personal mail. The key word here is “personal.” As long as there are no enclosures in mail to an inmate—no stamps, cash, pressed flowers, gold chains, etc.—the inmate will be given that letter. The actual, written content of the letter may be cause for denial, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

The liberty allowed Texas inmates with their personal mail is not extended to packages. It is easier to say what inmates can receive than to list what they cannot.

Inmates can receive two types of packages:

1) Books or magazines, which must come from the publisher or bookstore. This means that you must order them from the publisher and have the publisher mail them directly to the inmate; or you must buy them at the bookstore yourself, give the bookstore the inmate’s name, number, and address, and have the bookstore mail the books and magazines directly to the inmate. Do not try to mail books directly to the inmates. TDCJ mailrooms have a list of approved bookstores—if a package of books has a made-up address and label, it will not appear on the approved list and will be rejected and returned.

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6 Administrative Segregation

Jorge Antonio Renaud University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter six

administrative segregation


here are stories about the new Super-Seg and Super-Max Units, stories that focus on the inhumane aspects of those prisons. Marion in Illinois, Pelican Bay in California—they and the prisons like them are the new Alcatrazes. There the supposedly incorrigible are sentenced to years of subhuman life, their movements dictated by shadows behind unbreakable glass, a red, blinking glare of light sensors admitting them in and out of echoing corridors. These are places where life is twenty-four hours of enforced loneliness. The only human contact allowed is when one is transferred, shackled with leg irons and handcuffs, and in some cases wheeled on a gurney, a mask over one’s face, like so much savage freight.

As I write this, there are four super maximum-security prisons in

Texas—Estelle, Smith, Clements, and Allred High Security Units. While they are undoubtedly more secure, with unit policies that result in inmates being isolated from each other in ways not possible on other units, the great majority of Texas inmates in ad/seg are on units where the ad/ seg wings are part of the general prison, not in the four stand-alone high security units. That is not the case in California, where Pelican Bay is, by policy, practice, and physical attributes, set apart from every other

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19 Drugs

Jorge Antonio Renaud University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter nineteen



n March of 1995, TDCJ outlawed the use of tobacco products on all of its units, by both guards and inmates. Trumpeted as a cost-saving measure, the move probably did save the system millions of dollars. Building interiors no longer needed the constant repainting due to layers of smoke scum. The damage done by incidental, and sometimes intentional, fires was eliminated. Convicts suffering from asthma, emphysema, and other lung ailments could literally breathe easier, and convicts’ health improved overall, dropping the system’s medical cost.

One totally unintended consequence of the new tobacco policy was a sharp decline in drug trafficking, as the convicts who sold drugs—and the guards who smuggled them—realized the enormous profits and relatively low risks of now trafficking tobacco. While drugs are still available—especially on the units where older convicts retain their lifelong addiction to heroin—the businessmen who maintained the large operations now deal tobacco, not cocaine or marijuana.

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Appendix D Commissary Spending Limits

Jorge Antonio Renaud University of North Texas Press PDF
Medium 9781623491376

Appendix 3. Texas Supreme Court Cases and Other Significant Texas Cases

Porter, Charles R. Texas A&M University Press ePub



The Adjudication of Water Rights in the Medina River Watershed of the San Antonio River Basin v. Alamo National Bank Independent Executor, 645 S.W.2d 596; 1982 Tex. App. LEXIS 5610 (1982)

City of Del Rio, Petitioner, v. Clayton Sam Colt Hamilton Trust, by and through Its Trustee, J. R. Hamilton, Respondent, 08–755

Chronological Documents in the Texas Supreme Court Case File:

Petition for Review—Filed: 10/30/2008

Response to Petition / Appendix—Filed: 02/05/2009

Amicus Brief—San Antonio Water System—Received: 02/19/2009

Amicus Brief—Mesa Water—Received: 02/27/2009

Amended Reply to Response to Petition—Filed: 03/25/2009

Amicus Brief—Texas Farm Bureau—Received: 03/25/2009

Petitioner’s Brief on the Merits—Filed: 05/27/2009

Respondent’s Brief on the Merits / Appendix—Filed: 06/30/2009

Amicus Brief—CRMWA—Received: 06/30/2009

Amicus Brief—City of Amarillo—Received: 06/30/2009

Reply Brief—Filed: 07/20/2009

Amicus Brief—Stewart Title Guaranty Company—Received: 08/05/2009

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