Friday, June 04, 2010

Geriatric prisoner images

Following up on Emily Ramshaw's story, "Dying on the State's Dime," Texas Tribune photographer Caleb Miller posted this slideshow with pictures from Texas' geriatric prison wing at the Estelle Unit in Huntsville:

How much danger do these fellows really pose to the public? Earlier Ramshaw had earlier written that:
despite the fact that the national one-year recidivism rate for older offenders is miniscule compared to that of younger offenders — 3.2 percent for inmates over 55, compared to 45 percent for inmates between 18 and 29 — an April report by the VERA Institute of Justice, a nonprofit criminal justice policy group, found that the 15 states that allow medical release rarely use it. What stands in the way? Political repercussions, complicated review processes and limited eligibility, the researchers found.

Getting Texas inmates released on medical parole is no easy task. To be eligible for it, an offender can’t be on death row or be serving life without parole, and must be either terminally ill (six months or less to live) or require intensive long-term care, said Dee Wilson, director of the Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments. Sex offenders must effectively be in a vegetative state for consideration.


sunray's wench said...

If those photos had been taken anywhere else, in any other facility claiming to look after the elderly, there would be public condemnation and probably criminal prosecutions. Yet TDCJ can get away with it.

At least Estelle looks relatively clean - perhaps Mr Miller could ask to take photos in some of the other units, the older ones, that also house elderly inmates not lucky enough to have been transfered to Estelle.

Anonymous said...

Well, Grits, are you assuming that these old inmates are going to be able to buy their own health insurance or pay their own way in a nursing home if they get paroled? How much does Medicaid spend per nursing home patient on an annual basis? My guess is that it's cheaper on the taxpayers to pay for their care IN prison than it would be OUT of it.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Not for the state - the feds pick up 2/3 of Medicaid. Texas taxes pay 100% of care in prison.

TDCJEX said...

Sunaray some one must have cleaned that place forthe photograpghs up Estelle is one of the worse units to be on . Thatwas just madeto lok go and TDCJ made damn sure that the photographs released were not any where near what you see very day .The SSIs wer in there to make it look good .

That is true if it was not a prisoner there would be outrage . TDCJ gets away with it becuse people want revenge not justice and rehablitation .

My conclusion is that most people in the US are willing to spend a limted amont of money to keep some one locked up but not for things that might cost less and
reduce the use of prison .

Grits is right and it cost less ot take care of a person in the freeworld than it does in prison .But The politcal will is not there yet ot relase that guy is to be seen as soft on crime . That is polical suicied and directly related to earlir post .

The anon trols post is sadly the thinking of a lot of people . It shows a remarkable lack off knowlegde about our econmoy government how it functions and what it does.

Then I saw a sign saying "Stop socialism ! Keep the govenment out of medicare and medicaid ! "

Those are government health care programs ! Just so you get an idea of the menatily we are dealing with and this isa at least 20 % of the voting population

Anonymous said...

I recall numerous agency representatives from other States and countries touring the Geriatric Facility when we first opened it up at what was then called Ellis Two (Ellis II).

I could have filled all the beds at the Geriatric Facility with imates assigned to EII but the Hqs folks made the selections from the system. A priority assignment protocol was established by medical and security professionals, due to the severe bed shortage (We needed hundreds more of these bed classifications).

We strived to keep the unit clean. I have not been on that unit in years but I would hope, with all the medical issues the inmates have that are assigned or in transit at the Estelle Facility, sanitation is still a top priority.

Retired 2004

Anonymous said...

So if the federal government pays for health care rather than the state, that means we're not having to really pay for it? I wonder where the federal government gets its money from? Oh, that's right, they just print more when they need some!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Nope, they borrow it from the Chinese. But Texas can't do that, the state has to either balance its budget or raise your taxes.

Anonymous said...

So life in prison, doesn't really mean life in prison? That's the ticket these old guys bought when they did what they did. However long ago that was. How is this going to jibe with the new "life without parole" option in capital cases that you anti DP people rallied for?

The journalist here did a great job of tugging at the heartstrings with soft music and close ups of puppy dog eyes and seemingly innocent smiles. Strangely missing from the piece were the names synopses of the crimes committed by these men.

I agree with Grits about the costs associated with incarcerating these old 'uns, but again, it was a life sentence and that's the cost of a life sentence.

And to Sunray, come down from the tower. It's not a facility claiming to look after the elderly, it's a prison. If you don't like it, why don't you put up the capital and start your own high quality nursing home for elderly convicts if you're so offended by what you see? You can run it anyway you see fit. Until then, well you won't, but you get my point.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

1:31, I personally opposed the LWOP bill that passed in Texas precisely because it took away the option of life WITH parole. IMO the anti-death penalty movement threw their clients under the bus on that bill for the sake of a faux ideological victory.

BTW, are you volunteering to pay higher taxes to keep people who pose no threat locked up? If so, speak up and say so! Call Governor Perry and your representatives to let them know your preference for higher taxes. I'll bet they'll oblige you.

sunray's wench said...

@Anon 1:31 ~ who says all the guys at Estelle are serving life sentences? If the synopsis of the crimes was missing, how do you know whether they are all serving life sentences or not? What if some got 40 years, and have passed the point where the BPP could parole them if they wanted to, but instead they decide that these guys are more of a danger to the public than a drain on the public's taxes?

Estelle is TDCJ's designated geriatric unit. Are prisons exempt from the law?

Deborah said...

Wayne Scott Unit seems to be a geriatric unit too-- some of the inmates there are over 70 yrs old and some in their 60's have been put out in the fields to work! There are some inmates in WS who are just waiting to die-- my husband said the older inmates were 'dropping like flies' and one nurse (chatting with a guard) just waited long enough until and inmate died to take care of him! The food there is terrible- garbage, and there are flies and vermin inside the unit-- I wish they would take pictures in there!

Anonymous said...

Its hard to feel sorry for folks that have raped, robbed and otherwise scavanged our society. We realixe they have families but they should realize that they have badly hurt others!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

9:16, you don't have to feel sorry for them to realize that most of them at this point pose little recidivism threat and cost taxpayer loads more than is justified by any benefit to public safety. A 3.2% recidivism rate for offenders over 55 is miniscule, and most of these guys are a lot older than that.

Anonymous said...

Good day everyone. I am a TYC psychologist. Even though you have killed my mother, father, wife and all three children, I believe I can understand your problems and can help you move back into society as a good person ready to help others. I believe thatI cam take your problems awat and help you clear your destructive but understandableways. I work for TYC and I am overable trained.

TDCJEX said...

Sunray . A number of units house elderly prisoners. Estelle is in Huntsville about an hour from Huston and of course TDCJs “headquarters,” my guess is it was chosen for those reasons The suits as we called them would be able to easily “assist' in the”tour” I noticed mops out and usually unavailable cleaning supplies in a few photos .I believe some of the Jester units house elderly . Stiles might . In Gatesville the Valley satellite house elderly women . Carol Young, there is a place to do a article about . I doubt TDCJ would allow photos of a tiny ill or disabled woman shackled to a bed . Maybe a FOIA and open government request of random security camera recordings in all units . Hell show Skyview ,a coed Psych unit . Speaking of Psychiatric treatment in TDCJ. Gassing and beating a human with a “cool” tactical baton when they have a psychotic episode is the “treatment off choice ( No medical does not approve of this some quit because of the abusive treatment . ) . Think they come out sane ? Think the ensuing lawsuits are cost effective ?

More realistic photos of Estelle and a few other places I believe . From Attorney Yolanda Torres

The Federal government will borrow it or find creatives fees and surcharges to pay for for all the federal goodies every one demands in their district or state but thinks the other guys district or state is getting “pork .”

Anon 1:13 , the article is not as pointed out a synopsis so you are making unsupportable assumptions based on ignorance . Did it cross your mind that just maybe some did not have a victim as in drug crime , some victims might not want any publicity ? To say or imply you speak for victims is incredibly arrogant . Using victims to further a reactionary agenda and silence any debate is offensive . It entirely possible a person who has done time or is doing time might also be a victim or have survived a victim? Your use of them is a cynical , repugnant emotional distraction . Prisoners are humans too and not a separate species despite the words and actions of people on both sides of the debate

Seeing you think that locking every one up for a very long time is good policy . I suggest you offer to donate 90% all of you income to the state so it can house prisoner for a very long time after all it keeps you safe ! Just call up the State of Texas Comptrollers office they will be happy to assist you donating your income . Anon 1: 13 other people voted and their representative do not have the same ideology and priorities as you . In order to get anything done in a representative government legislators make deals and compromises . That is part of living in a representative republic .

I agree with Grits on LWOP. It twas only a segment of anti death penalty organizations that wanted it an did throw a lot of people under the bus for a fuax / Pyrrhic ideological victory . To be fair the pro crowd pushed the anti crowd into a corner with emotionally charged rhetoric that was not based in reality . The death penalty distracts from other very real problems I have often said this only to be drowned out by competing wackos on either side of that issue .

Sunray the real reason we see this is that our politician are cowards . They would rather execute a possibility innocent person and make it all but imposable to show you are innocent than be labeled soft on crime . Doing anything to help prisoners is political suicide . Though it is morally repulsive .

Sunray I could not send you a message via Twitter . If you use the other place, I can read a PM , send me a addy . The place you know me from is not safe any more . My gal told me something very interesting yesterday

sunray's wench said...

@Anon 9:18 ~ No one is asking for "sympathy". People are asking for a little common sense, and informed debate - not overused cliches and fearmongering. There are plenty of inmates who are there for family-related crimes, and whose families now want them home again. But you don;t want to hear that.

Just about all TDCJ units now have a growing elderly population of inmates because of the harsh sentencing of the early 90s. Hubby's unit, the largest, has a lot of older guys too - Hubby will be in that category in a few years himself.

TDCJ-EX ~ click on my name here, and you'll see where I write. There is an email address on my "About Me" page there, I don't check it very often but feel free to use it. Otherwise, join the site and send me an internal mail that way :)

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that these offenders broke the law in such an extreme way as to warrant being harshly punished. In many instances the physically harmed others in horrible ways. A jury or a judge, on behalf of their community, assessed their punishment. If our justice system is to have any legitimacy and credibility, those sentences should be enforced. If these offenders didn't want to grow old in prison, they should have followed the rules that people in our free society are expected to live by. Grits, there's plenty of "fat" in the state and federal budgets that could be used to cover these costs if these "spendaholic" liberals would back off in their efforts to make us all wards of the government. TDCJEX, if you think it's arrogant to remember victims of crimes in assessing and enforcing punishment, then I'm more than happpy to be unapologetically "arrogant!" And I'm sure the vast majority of people in this state are proud to be "arrogant" too!

sunray's wench said...

Anon ~ you can be as arrogant as you like behind your anonymity, it doesn't cost you anything. Are you familiar with sentencing practices in Texas over the past 20 years? It doesn't take breaking the law in the "extreme" way you seem to believe, that can cause someone to be sentenced to 50+ years in prison. You don't have to kill someone, rape someone, steal from someone or even shoot someone. In many cases you just have to be in the wrong place with the wrong people and not do enough to stop THEM from comitting the crime. While you have the Law of Parties, Texans can be sentenced even to death without actually killing anyone.

That's what arrogance does Mr Anon. It's Republicans who are spendaholics as you put it, by insisting that more people be incarcerated, thus taking them OUT of the tax-paying pool, and making everyone else pay MORE for the pleasure of keeping the inmates well beyond their sell-by dates. When Republicans are in power, you can't really blame the Democrats for spending any money.

Anonymous said...

No, the only way you're going to get a sentence of 50 plus years is to commit a first degree felony or be a repeat/habitual offender. These are either very serious crimes or offenders who persistently reoffend. In either event, most people in this state don't feel that it is an unwise use of our tax dollars to punish these criminals by locking them up for a long time. While this attitude may not jibe with the "touchy-feely-hug-a-thug" philosophy of most posters on this blog, I'm personally glad our elected leaders in this state are "tough on crime!" And yes, Grits, if it comes down to it, I'd pay more taxes if that's what it takes to keep these predators off the streets.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"if that's what it takes to keep these predators off the streets"

Ironically, they're likely having to release more dangerous offenders to keep these guys in - particularly the elderly sex offenders or petty drug addicts like this guy.

But by all means, don't let reality get in the way of ideology. And be sure to spread the word of your "raise my taxes" position to all your elected representatives - I'll betcha that message will really take off.

Anonymous said...

" in the wrong place with the wrong people and not do enough to stop THEM from committing the crime."

Like sitting outside in the car while your thug friends slaughter those inside? This wasn't the first time he was the driver (or the look out man).

TDCJEX said...

Our anon is a JFA troll who is using crime victims to forward their agenda .Yes you are arrogant to assume you speak for crime victims you speak for yourself and your agenda nothing more . You do not know why any one of those prisoners is locked up or when they were incarcerated . You are making assumptions about them . If you have an issue with that I suggest you take it up with the author of the article and The Texas Tribune . Pay attention real close it is right wing republican who are running Texas not liberals last I checked .So your issue on spending is with them . You apparently forget that

You sure are good at twisting words too or do not understand that I'm using you to mean you Anon coward. I said “To say or imply you speak for victims is incredibly arrogant . Using victims to further a reactionary agenda and silence any debate is offensive .” That means I am calling you arrogant and offensive for claiming you speak for other individuals who are victims of any crime you speak for your self or your political organization . JFA is probably dead on . If you are a spokesperson for a organization say so otherwise you are just anonymous cowardly troll . Is it maybe your organization has it's own legal and or criminal justice troubles ? That would truly be poetic justice as well as real justice to have your ilk on the receiving end of the injustice have advocated for

You apparently do not know very much about sentencing what you can get a very long sentence for in TX and you do not know how long those guys were incarcerated . Some of could have gotten a felony DWI when he was say 60 and you can in fact get a very long sentence and not have done very much at all . How about agg assalt or agg robbery both are so vaguely defined a prosecutor with a few functioning synapse could indite and convict any one innocent or guilty . In Harris country during the 90s lots of people to very long sentences for what in other Texas counties got ten or less years ! Did you know that ? No did not think so and the insane Law of parties that is so vague that just about any one can be charged and convicted for capitol murder .

You are not only arrogant you are ignorant and very misinformed . That is painfully obvious you have no idea who is in prison and why or how they really got there . All you care is some one is locked up . TY you probably don;t bell that a innocent person has ever been convicted yet .Grits is right don't let reality get in the way of anything now . So you suffer from cognitive dissonance . I hope you don't hurt any one while you live with all that disorganized rage and paranoia and a few guns that tend to be a deadly mix

Like Grits said good luck with raising taxes to pay for TDCJ .

Anonymous said...

You liberals crack me up! So full of your self-righteous indignation. You have no problem taxing people to provide free education and health care to illegal immigrants, but heaven forbid we actually PUNISH predators who hurt others or prey on our society. Y'all are either delusional or incredibly naïve. Believe it or not, some people really do bad things and need to be locked up. If a jury says LIFE, then I'll trust the jury before I'll trust you soft-hearted Monday morning quarterbacks. They heard the evidence. You didn't. That offender should die in prison. As for anonymous posting, I don't see you posting your real name TDCJEX.

Anonymous said...

As I read all these comments, it is a shame how some people do not realize the horrible conditions in some of these prison. Yes, they did commit a crime, but by law they are supposed to be treated for any medical needs. Shame on those who just see a convict with a punishment and do not see beyond that, because they are human beings and until anything like this hits close to home you will never realize just how much pain and suffering goes on inside those walls. When anybody does a report or video they clean up that place to make it look nice and clean and make it look appropriate, realistically they are not that good. I advocate for prisons medical rights and know first hand how they are treated.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

3:48: It's not the jury you're putting your trust in but the parole board. We only have LWOP in capital murder. Those juries sent these fellows away under statutes that made them parole eligible after 30-40 years, depending on the offense. So the jury's justice in most cases has been served; it's the parole board that must be satisfied.

And TDCJEX may not put his name out, but I do and I can certainly tell the difference between prose from someone who knows they can be held accountable for what they write and others who confuse the liberty that comes with anonymity for license.

Anonymous said...

Saw a piece on the news last night about the arrest of Joran Van der Sloot and the criminal justice/penal system in Peru. I doubt many prisoners at the Estelle Unit will be volunteering to do their time there anytime soon. Fact of the matter is, prisons in the U.S. are more like country clubs than in most other countries in the world. If conditions here weren't as good as they are, maybe they would have more of a deterrent effect. Ultimately, the answer to the issue of poor prison conditions is quite simple: If you don't like the conditions, don't get sent to prison.

sunray's wench said...

Anon @ 2:23 (and probably all the other Anons) ~ if you are refering to Clinton Young, why not say so? Personally, I've very little interest in those on Death Row, I am more concerned with the thousands who may have committed less serious crimes but were none the less given extremely long sentences. I'm also more concerned with the BPP taking their jobs seriously and being more accountable, not spending just 45 seconds on an individuals file or giving excuses for denying parole such as "insufficient time served" which contradicts the law of the state which says after a certain period of time the inmate IS eligible for parole.

An individual can have committed a couple of low-level offenses when in their early 20s, then nothing for 30 years, then get pulled for a DWI (with no fatalities). At that point, because of how the law is, they could easily be sentenced as a habitual offender and spend the next 20 years in prison for it. So the inmate spend the years between being 50 and 70 in prison, paying again for something they did 30 years previously, even though they may have already paid for those offenses at the time. Many 50 year old Americans have something medically wrong with them. Living in prison will exaccerbate that condition.

The death penalty has been trivialised by those who would issue it to people who have not taken a life. It looses it's meaning and impact. You seem to have lost sight of what justice is, in the pursuit of proping up negligent investigators and a large money-spinning organisation. Justice, Mr Anon, is when a person is tried and found guilty of what they DID do, not what they didn't do. Until that fundamental fact is addressed, you will have more people to pay for, and less people contributing the taxes to do so. Doesn't matter what colour your blood is, you should still be able to work that one out.

Male Sex Toys said...

Those fighting they're own lives, full of medicines, sad to look at it.

Anyway, you got an awesome compilation of pictures of them.

Anonymous said...

You see, the way this works boys is that if you commit a bad crime, or a bunch of not so bad crimes, you die in prison.

What part of that didn't you understand in grade school, sunny?

Anonymous said...

Maybe we can move them all into grist's house after medical release. Surely, he'd be a good citizen and take care of all of them for free, cuz they're gonna go somewhere.

And probably none of their own want them.

You see, they explained it many times in school. You commit a bad crime, or a bunch of medium bad crimes, then you likely die in prison.

Anonymous said...

Gentlemen, here is a perfect example that validates an "Amnesty" program that I have been advocating for several months. But for some reason no one seems to get it. Again, the state or fed should grant Amnesty to ex-cons who meet the following criteria:
(a) 50+ years of age
(b) served 20 consecutive yrs in prison
(c) have 5 yrs of clean parole
(d) have 10+ yrs to do on parole
Free these people of these Draconian parole restrictions so that they can try and make a future for themselves. Many older ex-cons are going into their senior yrs without a safety net because the state has them disenfranchized. Is the state or fed going to care for 60+ year old ex-cons, i.e., provide medical, dental, housing, food, etc.,? Why hell no their not, you know that. So why hold them back from being able to put some kind of retirement together for themselves. Let these people go.