Behind the razor wire-topped fences of Ferguson prison and other Texas penitentiaries are 5,205 inmates branded the baddest of the bad — dubbed so devious they are locked in one-man cells for 23 hours a day often for decades.
Lock down. Isolation. Administrative segregation.
Spread among 22 prisons, Texas has more inmates in so-called "ad-seg" than most other states in the nation.
They have been deemed by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to be "confirmed" members of gangs, too organized, predatory and violent to mix with the 150,000 prisoners in general populations.
They serve their time in cages of about 9 feet by 7 feet with cement walls outfitted with solid steel doors or bars covered with mesh.
"We ain't the most likeable or most welcomed group in society," concedes 38-year-old Anastacio Garcia, a robber from the Rio Grande Valley who has been in isolation here for 15 years. "We sit here day in and day out, basically rotting ourselves away."
Another 4,000 or so inmates are serving temporary stints in ad-seg as punishment for breaking rules or being escape risks.
Their cells are identical to those on death row.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Push to reform ad-seg lacks organic constituency
The issue of solitary confinement emerged on the media's radar screen this summer after inmates in solitary at California's Pelican Bay prison went on a hunger strike. Perhaps in reaction to that story, Dane Schiller at the Houston Chronicle has a piece today on solitary confinement (known in Texas as "administrative segregation," or ad-seg, in the parlance) at TDCJ titled "Years long isolation of inmates under attack." The article opens: