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Understanding the Texas Parole Process

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A Suggestion to Help People in Prison

While the main purpose of this website is to help people understand the parole process in Texas and also to educate them about the importance of parole packets, we also try to occasionally offer our insights into life inside prison and what can be done to make it easier on the offenders.

We've mentioned before how a few dollars placed into an inmates commissary account can be a big deal and how uplifting "making store" can be, even if they only get a few soups and a soft drink. The prisons which are actually run by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, such as the Gurney Unit, usually serves an adequate amount of food although the taste is sometimes horrible and the food almost inedible. However, the prisons run by the "for profit" companies like GEO and CCA offer an amount of food that is minimal and often actually inedible. Reports are often received of a serving of pinto beans that has only three beans and the rest being the congealed liquid which occurs from using too few beans and too much corn starch (apparently) to cut costs.

However, before we get diverted too far, we just wanted to suggest that great gifts to send to someone who is incarcerated are books. Not just the ones we sell here and at (including our great How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet)  but any books can help someone's mind escape from the daily hell of life on the inside.

Many people who are in prison don't think they like to read and so books aren't an obvious choice but once they get into them you never know what will happen. It may encourage them to continue to better themselves when they are released, perhaps pursue a different career, or complete an education they had abandoned.

The prison system will allow most book publishers to send books directly to a prisoner so it is one of the few gifts that is virtually guaranteed to make it to them.

Just a thought, but to change a life you have to start somewhere.


Christmas and Holidays in a Texas Prison

Turkey Day is followed immediately by an onset of shopping with the retailers playing Christmas music, decorating their stores, and doing everything possible to get you into the holiday spirit but inside the prisons it's just another endless stretch of sad days for most of the prisoners, missing their family and trying to find a way to kill time and prevent boredom until they are released. 

To make it even more boring, school and the other classes are usually canceled for an extended period. While some of the offenders don't like school, most will agree that the days without anything to do make the time go by even slower. 

On Christmas day there is usually a meal that is better than the other days (slightly), but in some units (particularly those run by the private companies like GEO and CCA) a better than average meal will be given for one meal and  then a sack lunch with a bologna sandwich for the other meal. Just as an aside, the holiday meals in the prisons run by the State are much better than those run by the private corporations whose only concern is profit.

The hardest part about Christmas for inmates is the time away from the families. We at want to reiterate our annual suggestions for those of you who have family or friends who are locked up during this this holiday season:

  1. Visit and write as often as possible. Nothing is more uplifting to a prisoner than seeing their family and getting a letter from someone is a welcome surprise.
  2. If you can afford it, put a few dollars "on their books" so they can visit the commissary. The ability to buy even a couple of "soups" can do a lot for the morale of a prisoner and the purchase of even a single sweet is a big deal.
  3. During the Christmas season consider sending something to them. A gift in prison is hard to select, but books are usually best, since most books will make it through the checkers and are allowed to go directly to the prisoners. The books must come from a store or a publisher though.
  4. Of course, if parole is being considered during the next year or so we suggest sending them the printed copy of our eBook How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet. This not only lets them know you are thinking about them but also gives them something to do by allowing them to work on their parole package from inside the walls. The package at the link above includes both a printed copy that can be mailed to them and also a digital copy for you.
  5. Christmas cards are both inexpensive and welcome. They often provide the only decoration in a drab room or cell. Not only do they brighten up the are but they are also a constant reminder that someone on the outside still cares about them.

Anything you can do to let an inmate know they are still a part of your life is extremely important so take a few minutes this holiday season to tell them you care.