I have been imprisoned for 12 years. Believe me when I tell you that Texas prisons are not paying prisoners for the hard labor, and this is just one of the many problems they have. Two of the biggest problems are poor medical care and lack of control over the correctional officers.
Let's start with medical. Most of the staff are poorly trained, only here for the pay and benefits. I have personally witnessed RNs and doctors do things that would start a malpractice law suit in the free world. I have seen prisoners have heart attacks, and it took medical 10 minutes to get to them. All the while staff stood over them doing nothing. A co-workers in the kitchen had a hernia, medical department scheduled him for surgery 9 months down the road when he was discharging his sentence in 6 months. He walked around constantly in pain and couldn't sleep. One of my cellies was a seizure patient. Because the medical department could not get his medicine balanced he had more seizures than normal. Doctors prescribe the wrong medicine and prisoners get really sick. I could go on and on.
Because there's no outside oversight these types of things keep happening. Now to the correctional officers. They have the mentality that the uniform gives them the right to talk, treat and do as they will to prisoners. they do just that on a daily basis at all the units in the system. Some will cuss at you, even when you give them respect, because they know nothing is going to happen to them. On two different units I've seen prisoners get gassed, handcuffed, beat until they are bleeding and can't walk, all over a piece of contraband, or because the CO didn't like how the prisoner responded to a question.
Female COs tell supervisors a prisoner said or threw something at them, just so they could see the prisoner eat up, and then stand there laughing. I saw a prisoner in handcuffs, when he initially went to seg he was fine, when they brought him back out 10 minutes later he was bleeding from the nose, eyes were bruised, and limping. Found out later that night that he was beat with a walkie-talkie and pushed down the stairs. Medical was told he fell. This came from a CO. Two weeks later that supervisor was fired.
You constantly see bogus disciplinary cases because an officer doesn't like a prisoner, and wants to see them receive some type of punishment. Most of the time it's recreation, cell or commissary restriction, loss of good time, and loss of class depending on the case. These bogus cases create a lot of problems especially when it's time for a parole review.
There has got to be something that can be done to bring some type of constant oversight from the outside to make sure the state is held responsible for what the staff does. Until this happens the prisoners are basically sitting ducks for abuse. We were sentenced by a judge to do time, and to rehabilitate ourselves, so we can return to society as a free and productive citizen. That can't be done when you have out-of-control correctional officers constantly causing you trouble.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this writer that the prisons only pay lip service to rehabilitation while actually making it very difficult for people to return to society as productive members. The criminal injustice system is not about rehabilitation or even punishment, it is a system of social control.