First Days in the Texas Prison System – Part 2
At the end of Part 1 of this topic we left the new prisoners as they were first processed into the Gurney Unit (or a similar one). Their heads had been shaved, they'd been searched and are now waiting on the next step.
The prisoners wait in a wired holding area until the guards are ready to proceed. They are given their sheets and a thin "mattress" and then provided a number of their housing and bunk assignment. It quickly becomes clear who has been in the system before since some men begin making a sling out of their sheet which is used to wrap around the mattress so it can be easily carried.
The men are then marched, single file, to their housing with the guards yelling at them along the way.
At intake units such as Gurney,most of the men are housed together along with the others who arrive at the same time. Gurney uses the "pod" system where there is a central guard station (a picket) which is octagon shaped and enclosed with plexiglass or safety glass windows. The men are housed in large rooms spread around the picket in a circle, allowing the guards to view any of the rooms from inside the picket.
Periodically there are "counts" in which the inmates are required to "rack up", which means go to and stay on their beds, while the guards count to determine the correct amount of men are there. Several times each day there is an ID count, where the guards go to each bed and check the IDs of the men.
There are usually two televisions mounted high on the wall. Each television plays at full volume from around 7 in the morning until 11 or so at night. Each are usually on a separate station. Three metal benches face each television. The metal benches are also positioned where they face into the open section of the rooms containing the toilets, sinks and showers.
The only drinking water in the facility is from the sinks. The toilets are metal with no seats.
The guards normal method of communicating with the prisoners is to scream over the loudspeakers, which distorts the voices and makes it almost impossible to understand.
The meals are eaten at specified times each day. Breakfast is usually around 3:00 AM, lunch around 11:00-12:00 and dinner around 5:00.
To Be Continued…
People ask us "When is the time to start preparing a parole packet?" Most of you know, a parole packet or a parole presentation package, is a collection of documents and pictures that is sent to the parole board to help them get to know the potential parolee a little better. This is particularly important in Texas since there is not an interview with the actual member of the parole board who will be voting.
Our answer as to when to start is always the same.
There are many reasons for this, but the main thing to remember is it is better to have the information and not need it, than to need it and not have it. Many times it takes much longer to get the information together than you would think and people are forced to submit packets without all of the materials.
We discuss the various parts of the packet in our eBook, How to Prepare a Texas Parole Presentation Package, available as a download which can then be used to prepare the packet or as a download and printed copy. As a bookstore, we can mail the printed copy to a prisoner at his unit or directly to you. By all means, if you can afford a parole attorney, hire one, but if you can't, our low priced eBook will help you to do the best job possible.