Sunday, December 13, 2015

How many TDCJ inmates were 'improperly charged'?

According to page 10 of TDCJ's latest Ombudsman's report from 2014, 379 inmates that year complained to the agency to say they were "improperly charged." Of those, 117 were "Investigated - no corrective action necessary." Only one was listed as "Request approved /Corrective action taken"; three more saw "Some corrective action." The rest resulted in variety of different, mostly inconclusive outcomes. It sure would be interesting to see an independent evaluation of TDCJ inmates' claims that they were improperly charged. One imagines TDCJ's review is fairly pro forma. Grits suspects there may be potential innocence claims among that group or other claims which could be successfully raised in habeas corpus writs - comparable, perhaps, to parolees improperly categorized as sex offenders - if those inmates had access to counsel.

Gentle readers, if you had to guess, what do y'all suspect is going on in those cases?

20 comments:

sunray's wench said...

What do I suspect is going on? The same "them and us" mentality that TDCJ is in no hurry to shake off. The same "all inmates are scum, they never tell the truth, you can never trust them" mentality. The TDCJ guard structure is much like the miriad of police and other enforcement agencies you have there, adopting militarised tactics used in combat situations. Your police can't be trusted not to kill people they should be at least arresting, let alone protecting, so why would we expect anything different from TDCJ?

I wonder how many of the incidents that led to a complaint by an inmate happened where no security cameras had been installed?

Anonymous said...

Sunray, wonder no more...... inmates are still brutally beaten, hog tied, body-slammed on the concrete, pepper-sprayed and left to rot in pain, given major cases for minor infractions, belittled, humiliated and harassed even by the "nurses", while "the cameras are not working"... hoops! Who can blame anybody if the cameras are down? -------------------------------TDCJ is an organized-crime institution whith no true oversight, no accountability, no sense of morals, and with the arrogance of the good ol' boys network. We know it, they know it, I know it, you know it. Nothing will change until somebody files a federal law suit.-------------------- In the meanwhile, may the rotten apples in their midst rot in hell. Who are the rotten apples? The folks "at the other unit", because, you see, nothing really happens "at my unit", and, if it does, it is "the inmate's fault"... and the merry-go-round goes on while the suffering in these american gulags continues.---------------------- The "medical units" are some of the worst offenders, as they deal with the most vulnerable inmates and most of the UTMB staff is as uncaring and exploitative as the guards. --------------May all the wardens reading this know that I pray every day for karma to befall upon them, so that they may experience just a bit of the horrific suffering they needlessly allow in their wonderful gulags staffed with many appropriate-for-the-purpose guards who, by the way, will chase anybody with a sense of decency away, so that the task of hiring and re-staffing can go on, while assuring that the the system, with its own criminal code of silence, maintains the status-quo.-----------------I will sign this "Anonymous" - because they will retaliate against a loved one. I know of a friend who is now free as he died from serious abuse, medical neglect, and a horrific last two days while in a semi-conscious state, being transported in a "van" back and forth from unit to hospital to unit.... so forgive me if I do not wish tdcj and UTMB's administrative staff good holidays, and forgive me also for keeping them all in my daily "I wish you rot in hell" prayers. ------------------------- Do I sound fed-up? I am. And so are many others.

Anonymous said...

Reposting this as it seems appropriate to the discussion at hand:
WHAT ABOUT:

- MANDATORY REAL THERAPY for the many abusive, sick, psychopaths employed by the system, so that the good ones don't leave after 1 yr of employment, and inmates are safer?
- Requiring that officers have at least 2-yr college? The salaries are not really that low for rural Texas, especially if you consider the benefits. Turnover is due more to job dissatisfaction bec/ of poor peer-relations, back-stabbing, fear, and poor communication.
- Rendering very well-paid health professionals accountable for really doing their jobs? Their salaries can reach 6-digits.
- Criminally prosecuting guards for the abuses?
- Requiring that UTMB psychiatrists and physicians show up for work instead of spending most of their time running a separate private practice often 60 or more miles away from the unit they are paid to serve with salaries up to 200K? thus leaving their health care duties to low-level nurses or to poorly-staffed offices?
- Not allowing horrific and approved cell extraction methods that scare the bejesus out of patients? Or pepper-spray and beatings?
- Making sure that Senior wardens show up for work at the unit, instead of running their own ranch while receiving quite lucrative salaries?
- Increasing the food budget from $.58 cents per meal to a realistic figure, so that prisoners are not served unedible, nutrient-poor slop which increases mental health and physical problems?
- Increasing health-care budget to more than $1.67 per day per patient?
- Developping a system of outside oversight and accountability?
- Rendering UTMB accountable for providing the care and the meds they are contractually obligated to provide?
- Electing judges at the 5th Circuit Court of App. who will prosecute civil rights violations?

and on and on and on --- it ain't going to happen. I had to say it though. I may be repeating myself: for that I apologize.

Brody said...

My best guess, based on what I've seen? People who were convicted of lesser included offenses where the judgment reflected the original offense charged. Robbery -> theft, Possession with intent -> straight possession, etc. Or, perhaps depending on how they categorize things, offenses which in the inmate's view improperly reflect a deadly weapon finding.

Anonymous said...

I too must answer as anonymous.

I'm not 100% sure but "improperly charged" might pertain to in-house disciplinary cases. The issues in the report following "improperly charged" (i.e. failure to call a witness, improper punishment, counsel substitute, Hearing/Investigation was not impartial (hearing officer was biased, etc.) ") indicate that these were grievances filed by family over disciplinary cases. If the reference is for the original charged crime then that would be dealt with in the courts, not through an ombudsman's office.

Keep in mind this is the Ombudsman's report. As stated on page 1, these are requests to TDCJ from the public and elected officials, not offenders.

"In accordance with Section 493.016 of the Texas Government Code, the TDCJ Ombudsman program provides a single point of contact for elected officials and members of the general public who have inquiries regarding the agency, offenders or staff".

These 19,569 inquiries are not from inmates. I spent two decades in a TDCJ max farm and I never had access to the ombudsman, only my family did. I think a report based on inmates I-60 requests to prison officials and UTMB would make this report look tiny in numbers and the outcomes and resolutions comical, especially in the medical area. I've watched men die sitting in the infirmary. I watched a man die because staff chased away inmates giving CPR. I watched a man die from a heart attack on the walkway and witnessed staff joke because he urinated himself as he expired. I knew a man who died of a massive heart attack after the infirmary sent him back to his cell again and again with heartburn medication. I've watched too much.

These are the real stories. If police shootings are under-reported, if DA's withhold evidence, if lab techs are crooked, if people are knowingly and wrongfully convicted, then why even believe figures from TDCJ, the out-of-the-public-eye underbelly of it all? There is not even a basis for discussion.

Before I end this let me say this. I did my two decades and somehow avoided the cruelty I witnessed. It was hard, it was miserable, but it was what it was supposed to be ... it was a prison. The majority of officers and UTMB personal are normal everyday people doing the best they can do in an incredibly hard job for low pay in a poorly structured paramilitary organization that exists without any sense of esprit de corps. But there are loose cannons, bad apples, people with chips on their shoulders and low morals, and some that are just plain evil. They taint everything and they are dangerous.

sunray's wench said...

Anon 10.10am ~ the Ombudsman's office only repeats what it is told by those on the units, in our experience. It's a dog with no teeth wagged by its tail.

Anonymous said...

In reply to 10:10 AM - Yes: "They taint everything and they are dangerous." - As to: "The majority of officers and UTMB personal are normal everyday people doing the best they can do in an incredibly hard job for low pay in a poorly structured paramilitary organization that exists without any sense of esprit de corps: this is my answer: The fact the ALL keep silent and cover for each other, make ALL of THEM DANGEROUS AND NONE OF THEM GOOD BECAUSE, AS THE TIME GOES BY, THEY BECOME DESENSITIZED (if they ever were); If they stay, their soul whill start rotting at work, or it becomes paralyzed and frozen: in a survival mode, which, when prolonged, il allows the ice or the rot rot to creep into their personal life and in that of the people they serve, destroying everything around them.
Those who survive will have a long journey toward recovery. The sociopaths who work for the system, from the bottom all the way up the ladder, will not be affected because they have no empathy, sense of justice, nor a moral compass. They will have developped justification mechanisms which will allow them to see themselves as "the good guys" and the inmates "the bad guy" deserving all the illegal abuses they are subject to. Lack of accountability reinforces this distorted idea that they are indeed right: the rules are not for them, not really. If they were, they would be punished. Since they are not, IT MUST BE OK. --- THIS IS THE TACIT CONTRACT that TDCJ/UTMS staff signs when they are enrolled.
--------------------The system, {either by desensitizing staff, or by creating dual-personality folks who deny, justify, and defent the system} in effect, creates emotionally dissociated people, with Jakill-and-Hyde personalities. Thus they cannot be trusted at any level because you never know who you are dealing with.
I didn't make this up, I am, not that smart. Psychological, sociological, and behavioral studies support this view which is one of many. All of them agree that the prison system is, by nature, dehumanizin to all, ubless you are fortunate enough to live in Sweedish or Danish countries which do not allow this to happen.
--------------------The above also explains the reason why the ombudsman office "has no teeth", and neither has the chaiplain, by the way. They ARE ALL RECEIVING MONEY FROM A SECRET SOCIETY whose main purpose is to maintain the status-quo. Remember: wardens are paid up to $200,000 a year; once guards pass a three-year level, their salaries go up to a comfortable sum. Follow the money, and you will understand the corruption.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for some of the typos in the above post. I keep forgetting that, once posted, I cannot edit. I hope they were not too distracting. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

To 10:10 - I am glad you posted your story. Thank-you. I truly wish you the best in your next journey. Please, do not buy into the cliche that tells you "It was hard, it was miserable, but it was what it was supposed to be ... it was a prison". It Does NOT have to be this way. Prison is designed to protect society and to punish by depriving folks, who break the rules, of their freedom. It DOES NOT NEED TO DEPRIVE ANYONE OF THEIR DIGNITY AS HUMAN BEINGS. When guards, wardens, staff become accomplices, they too lose part of their humanity. Nobody wins. May you truly have blessed holidays in your recovery.

Anonymous said...

The Stanford Prison Experiment was a two week simulation in which college students were put in the basement of the psychology building at Stanford, some acting as guards, some acting as prisoner. Then, they let things run their course. The whole thing was quite a fiasco. It's used in psychology classes across America to demonstrate basically what not to do when performing an experiment.

What is most interesting, however, is the behavior of one of the participants, by the name of Dave Eshleman, who acted as a guard. It is, in my opinion, a rather clear cut example of remorseless sociopathy. In a popular video he speaks of his role in the experiment. He first appears talking about how he was recruited. But later he appears several times showing absolutely no any remorse; in fact, he laughs about some of the atrocities he committed at some point. He talks about how he created a new persona for himself, adopting a Southern accent to appear more tough. He refers to his part in the experiment as "playing a role", yet he admits that he was the primary instigator of the terror that the guards put the prisoners through. The footage of the decompression after the experiment was halted, where he comes face to face with one of the prisoners he tormented is quite interesting. He never showed he had a clue about what he had done.
SO, NOTHING IS NEW HERE.

A sociopath, and that includes GUARDS, suffers from antisocial personality disorder, or APD. Technically, APD is “a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others.” Typical characteristics include overconfidence, lack of remorse, high levels of manipulation and an inability to conform to social norms. Many guards and higher-up, belong to this category. They can look "normal", kind, nice working folks trying to feed their families, but beware! They are chamaleons in disguise.

Lacking an established sense of self, sociopaths are social chameleons- they adapt to different social settings depending on what the situation demands. They constantly change and transform to get the best out of the world around them, and often their sadism satisfies covert psychological needs of revenge toward an earlier parental figure. Integrity involves loyalty to one's core beliefs and principles. It requires a strongly-held concept of self. There is no such thing as a sociopath with integrity. Once sociopathic guards start working for the system, the system will reinforce their sociopathy by not punishing them.Don't EVER trust a warden or a guard pretending to show you that they care about inmates and their families. They don't.

Sociopaths are drawn to employment that involves wielding positions of power over people– the more helpless and less likely to be listened to the better. They also enjoy power-heavy jobs as police officers or prison guards. They are the criminals inside the prisons and walk among them and among us.

Anonymous said...

Zimbardo, who conducted the Stanford exp., wrote a book called "The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.} It is both fascinating and intriguing. Another good book about the psychology of bad behavior, is Roy Baumeister’s "Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty." These explain in detail the pathology of both offenders and guards or policemen, and also the pathology of many in power.

Anonymous said...

After seeing a door guard (I went to school with) messing with inmates, I reminded him - you do know that inmates eventually get out, right? And, since I knew he ate in the inmates chow hall, I asked him to consider bringing a lunch due to the inmates he was screwing over all worked in the kitchen. He smirked it off and ended up getting beat down with his clip board and several sizes of brogans (the shit & piss laden pork had no visible effect). Sadly, his door guarding days ended just as fast as it began, all due to being allowed to think it was okay to bully around an entire captive audience. All it took was, jacking with the smallest person on the unit and poof he was floored.

The only way to get the human element off the units is to replace them with 32 inch CCTV Monitors (24/7/365 recorded and maintained off site and kept for no less than three years with access to footage extended to attorneys representing inmates and guards alike) and remote access doors. And of course, removing the power tripping military ranking system would take away the soldier (wanna-be-cop-rejects) syndrome. Allowing the diagnostic unit to place inmates with 5 or, 10 years in dorms or, cells with inmates with 60 years or, life is a recipe for disaster. Not only for the inmates, for the entire system. No fix, no change.

Until then, we can expect to hear about atrocities and the repercussions exacted onto those allowed to be caught up in the game. Then again, pay back is a bitch when served cold upon those truly deserving.

Anonymous said...

to 12:50 PM - Unfortunately, while this guard's days ended, the inmates's nightmare continued as the other wanna-be-cop-rejects retaliated mercilessly.

From Dallas said...

..... and when "officers" get offended that we call them "guards", someone finds a more appropriate epithet" wanna-be-cop-rejects". Thanks 12:50 PM.

The Comedian said...

Just an interesting side note to the discussion: The Warden at the Jester IV Psych Unit in Richmond drives a Maserati. Not bad on a Warden's salary! Or maybe he has some income on the side. Inquiring minds would like to know!

sunray's wench said...

Wardens could get to work by a private jet for all I care - as long as they are transparent and accountable to the tax payers as all public servants should be.

Anonymous said...

I had a friend who worked for UTMB at Estelle for years. The stories she has told me about the beatings of inmates by guards and the treatment of inmates by the staff when they are dying etc. is horrendous. She eventually had enough and left. She is now being called in as a witness on several of these cases that are now in the courts including the blind guy who died in his cell a few years back. It's truly sad.

txbombshell said...

Even where cameras are present, the warden one assistant warden and a major have access to the recordings of the cameras. The same people that would erase any that do not exonerate the agency, staff. There are no policies in place mandating a retention period of all recordings. Something I intend to propose at an upcoming Board meeting

txbombshell said...

The Omnbudsman is a joke. As long as any "review" that's done, is done by someone that is paid by TDCJ, it is pointless. What the Ombudsman office (currently Debra Booker) does is find out what the inmate has to substantiate their claim, via the family members.
Debra Booker then feeds the information to the respective TDCJ employees that are involved. This allows them to know how to cover their ass.

txbombshell said...

The Omnbudsman is a joke. As long as any "review" that's done, is done by someone that is paid by TDCJ, it is pointless. What the Ombudsman office (currently Debra Booker) does is find out what the inmate has to substantiate their claim, via the family members.
Debra Booker then feeds the information to the respective TDCJ employees that are involved. This allows them to know how to cover their ass.