TDCJ Shifting Policies, Still Gouging Prisoners and Families
Included with this letter is a clipping from The Echo, TDCJ’s prison newspaper. The clipping shows how TDCJ and the Texas Board of Criminal (In)justice is continuing to try and bill us inmates and our families for the services they have the constitutional obligation to provide.
As you can read in the article, they are going to charge inmates $13.55 per inmate-initiated visit, not to exceed $94.85 ([we used to be charged $100 annually on medical visits, so] we save $5.15 a year). What a deal! NOT!
The TDCJ is trying to save money by using this method to discourage offenders from using medical services. On my unit, H.H. Coffield in Tennessee Colony, TX, our medical services are severely inadequate, often requiring months of wait just to see a provider. This is a unit with over 5,000 prisoners and the medical staff and MHMA staff are present in severely insufficient numbers. Correctional officers are short-staffed too, operating at only 66%. The unit is also over-populated, which causes inmates to suffer the effects of extreme heat. What is more, they are putting two inmates in cells designed for only one person (45 sq. ft. of space – even though TDCJ lost a lawsuit requiring them to provide the federally-mandated minimum of 60 sq. ft. per offender).
Some of us are fighting in courts but lack support from the outside as well as support from our brothers on the inside. It’s as though they like having their rights trampled and being servants to an abusive master.
Please update your Texas Pack to include this information. I also have a copy of the Pack Unit lawsuit about the extreme heat that could be helpful to our comrades in TDCJ, which is available for free from Texas Prisons Air-Conditioning Advocates, P.O. Box 9624, Longview, TX 75608.
TDCJ and the State of Texas insures inmates at $10 million each; so when we die in here, they collect that money. The Trust Fund is an interest-bearing trust account. TDCJ and the State of Texas collect that interest and pocket it. They say our families can take a tax deduction for donating money to our trust-fund accounts, but by IRS tax law, that money cannot be treated as taxable income, because only non-profit organizations can receive money and offer their IRS tax-exempt code to donors. My family has tried to use it, only to be rejected because TDCJ is listed as a “for profit” institution.