Life On the Inside: A Correctional Officers View of Life Behind Bars in Texas Prisons

The feeling of power

After studying Criminal Justice for two years only to find out I was one year over the age limit to join the Dallas Police Dept. I decided to take a job in the Department of Corrections. I filled out the application, had my fingerprints taken and waited on the criminal background check. I passed the background check and started classes.  The only question really asked of me was if I could count to twenty-five, the number of inmates in a huge cage with sets of metal bunk beds cemented into the floor. I was also told to  prepare my family for the possibility that if something happened I might never return home. Be sure to have your paperwork in order. The training consisted of 36 hours of classroom training and about 25 hours of self-defense and use of chemicals to restrain an inmate. We also learned to cover for each other since many of Texas Prisons are managed by privitized companies. After training in the classroom we were taken on a tour of the facility, including the detention facility. After a week and a half I recieved my uniforms and badge. I was so proud. I felt I could make a difference since my view of corrections was never revenge. In my mind it had always been rehabilitation. It would only take a month of working in the first facility to realize that many of the persons who worked in the units were as bed or worse than the inmates we we hired to supervised. I would soon learn how bad it could be.

Picture of a Texas Inmate

My husband Fernando at a NAMI Mental Health Conference, where he was certified as a Mental Health Counselor who volunteered to help others. He is now serving the last 6 years of a 10 1/2 year sentence under the mandatory minimums sentencing laws.
My husband Fernando at a NAMI Mental Health Conference, where he was certified as a Mental Health Counselor who volunteered to help others. He is now serving the last 6 years of a 10 1/2 year sentence under the mandatory minimums sentencing laws.

First Assignment: The Juvenile Facility

My first assignment was in Bronte,Texas. It was a juvenile facility. It could'nt be that bad I thought. Boy was I wrong. The first day I reported the inmates were painting a mural. One of them a young girl was painting a unicorn touching a dove with a broken wing. How beautiful i thought, he's healing the dove...Wrong!! The young artist studied me with mischief, knowing I was new decided to take her shot and see what my reaction would be. "No Miss, she said, he's not healing, he's actually killing him, the unicorn is us inmates and the dove is you all." Her tactic worked, shock registered on my face as I walked away. I was later assigned to dorm "D" where the most aggressive and hardened inmates were housed. This was due to my size,  I am 6"ft in socks. The inmates in D dorm are charged and convited of murder, rape, aggravated assualt, sexual assualt and any other range of violent crimes. It is constantly under siege by "Code Black" the term used to describe a riot in the dorm. When a code black is called over the radio to central, the CERT TEAM, Correctional Emergency Response Team, rushes in to quiet it down. The only problem being there are 3 Guards to each dorm. There are 25 inmates to a dorm. By the time the emergency response team arrives about 10 to 15 minutes later many times staff members have been injured. In my first week I was assualted by 4 inmates and hit with a stair stepper leaving one whole side of my body black and blue. It would not be the last time. The youngest of the inmates was 9 years old and convicted of aggravated sexual assualt of a child, where does a 9 year old learn this? A 13 year old convicted of killing her sisters twin daughters because they would not be quiet. The twins were 8 months old. The most problematic was a 13 year old who murdered her mother by shooting her in the head because the cereal bowl was the wrong color. She constantly fought with staff, resulting in being held down by 3-6 staff members and disrobed for trying to hang herself, and spent hours in isolation wearing nothing but a strait-jacket and shackles with a female guard sitting across her back until she would stop fighting, then it would start over again. It was soon apparent that these children were not in here for stealing candy. During this time it was a female facility. The most amazing to me was amount of homosexuality present in the unit. 

The unit was changed to a male juvenile unit about three years later. It was a little easier than the females. Even though the males are more prone to violence, they usually only fight if provoked or over a major issue such as disrespect. The females on the other hand pick fights over nit-picking, little trival matters. All inmates male or female were required to attend school. Some worked at the cafeteria, in the beauty salon, or buffing the floors. They have 2 hours a day in the community room to watch tv or catch up on homework. The males are also the most likely to make sexual remarks to the female staff. There is not the amount of homosexuality in the male population between the inmates as with the females as far as juvenile offenders. This is seen a a lack of manhood between the males. These inmates are cunning, violent and also still children who, when turning 21 will most likely released to society, many becoming tomorrows adult offenders.

The danger of seeing them as children like any others is a grave mistake made by many new officers and seasoned ones as well. You learn early on to never turn your back to them, You keep your hair short or tightly secured to your head. These inmates are very creative since they spend much of their time thinking up new ways to cause disruption. They take razors and remove the blade, put a bobby pin into an electric socket and put a piece of paper on it. When it becomes hot they light fires , melting the handles on toothbrushes and inserting the blade into the plastic. When it hardens they have a perfect weapon. Many will bite the guards, spit on them, or throw feces and urine at the officers. Assualt on Guards is common since you are only allowed to use soft restraint and isolation. Tube socks were banned after a guard was beaten into a vegetative state after entering the cell of a girl who was lying on the floor curled up in pain, it was a ruse. When the officer entered the cell, the other inmate in the cell closed the door and began beating the officer in and around her head an kicking her, the weapon was a tube sock with several bars of soap inside. She was uncouncious by the time CERT could get into the cell which can only be opened form central control. She remains in a vegatative state to this day 20 years later.

I remained at the juvenile facility for 6 years before transferring to the adult male offenders facility. I gained experienced that will always remain with me forever. The violence and abuse will always cause me to look at children in a new light today. They are not the same children we were or raised our children to be. Due to the in ability of parents to disipline their children due to child abuse protection, the taking out of prayer in our schools, and many other factors. have created a new breed of today's child. The "Alpha" child, with no regard for the rights of others or for property and most important, the pure disregard for human life.

I was exposed to many incidents of violence and abuse, but it was not all by the inmates housed there. In a subsequent capsule I will detail for you the abuse of the inmates by the staff trusted to care for them.

Adult Correction Facilities In Texas

After moving from West Texas to the Metro-Plex, I was assigned to the Intermediate Sanction facility for male adult offenders in Fort Worth. transferring from a juvenile facility to an adult facility means another type of training since the force you can use with adults is more than is allowed for a juvenile.

The training is two weeks weeks long and then another week of self defense. After training you are issued 5 uniforms, have your graduation certificate. and off you go to work. The difference between the Juvenile facility was shocking to me . It consisted of what was once a large warehouse that had been converted into a prison by constructing large cages, like the ones in the zoo, made by cementing the heavy steel bars into the ground. There were no 2 man cells. There 25 beds in each cage, or pod as we called them. The beds were bunk beds and the persons with disabilities were assigned to the bottom bunks after a written note from the doctor. These inmates do not work, they basically lie in their bunks and watch tv. They go to pill call for the ones who take medications, it can take up to a month before the inmate can see the doctor and get their medications started. this can a problem for an inmate with a mental illness or heart problem. If they need to see the doctor or dentist they must put in a written request. It can take a week or so even though there is a nurse on staff. Three times a day, we call count. All inmates are to sit on their bunks and not move during count. It is a favorite game to the inmates to move around during count to confuse the officer counting. On each corrider there are 4 cages, with twenty five inmates to each cage. There are two officers assinged to each corrider, that's not good odds. The ratio of two guards for 200 inmates is in my personal opinion dangerous. I also feel that having 25 men locked in the cage together with nothing to do and only one tv is asking for assualts and riots. Many of the fights have started over what tv show to watch. They can attend services at a non-denominational church service on sundays. Many attend just to get out of the cell for an hour. There is a chaplain on duty to deliver bad news to the inmates or to talk if they need an ear.

Being a woman working in a mens unit is by no means easy but once you establish a boundary and respect it becomes a lot easier. My first day an inmate called me "Baby Boots" that's what they call female newbies, the new officers. I promptly called him to the bars and told him "My name is officer or Ms. Luna to you, do not disrespect me and I will not disrespect you" I never had another problem. I became known now as "Amazon" due to my height. There is a library but it is rarely used and many of the inmates here are illiterate. I was often asked how to spell words when writing letters. Mail call was at 3pm everyday. Inmates wait eagerly for their names to be called , it was heartbreaking to see the ones forrgotten, who never received mail or letters or even visits. You do not form friendships with the inmates but you can always take time to stop and listen. H Unit is solitary, reserved for the combative or suicidal. I hated working that unit. The cells are very small, a bunk with no mattress, no shets, and a bath once a day. There is no tv, no phone, no one to talk to. You can hear the inmates communicating with each other by yelling at the inmate in the next cell, or at the officer. The officer on H Unit peeps in the little window every 15 minutes to assure safety, it doesn't take 15 minutes to commit suicide. I learned this my first year there, luckily not on my shift. Often an angry inmate will throw feces, urine, or stick their private parts out the slot meant for the food tray. if it is a female officer on duty, the inmates in H Unit will sit in the cell mastrubating. There is nothing else you can do to them besides a write up which extends their time in solitare.

When it is shower time the inmate has no privacy. they bathe in showers in the cage, there is no curtain or wall to stand behind. This is the same with the tolieting. This to me was shameful on the part of the institution. Once a shift, one of the guards has to enter the cage locking the door behind them and with the 25 inmates present , do a shakedown for contaband. Another reason not to disrespect an inmate unless he disrespects you. While you enter the cage to do the shake down , looking under the mattresses, shaking pillows, looking through the personal belongings and patting down the inmate. When you enter into the cage for the shakedowns you leave your keys with the other guard outside, if there is a problem in the cage the guard outside calls central control for CERT to respond. Contraband is anything not issued by the prison, or bought by the inmate in the commissary store. The inmates are not allowed to give other inmates things they have bought though they will often pay the other inmate with commissary items they by for them. They pay for tattoos, haircuts, things another inmate may make for them to send their wife or family member, such as handkerchiefs with pictures, pictures drawn on paper or even to write letters for them. They are very creative, in good ways and in bad.

There is a lot of gang activity and everything possible is done to keep the different gangs separated. They are screened at intake and put with their own. On the inside, more than gang membership, the inmates will mingle with their own race. The inmates are served their meals in their cells, it is passed through a slot in the cage and after being given 30 minutes the trays are picked up by the staff. There is no kitchen in the Fort Worth Facility so the food is prepared and brought to the facility in a catering truck. Many times the facility will be short on the number of meals ordered and the inmate is given a piece of fruit and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I worked the floor in the Fort Worth Unit for about three years.

Around 2000 I decided to return to school so the 12 hour shifts were not an option. I asked the warden for a transfer to a new unit that was constructed in Del Rio, Texas. The unit there holds both state, federal, and city level inmates. Male and female are in the same facility but in different dorms. They have cells and usually 2 people to each cell. The inmates hold jobs inside the facility and make $ 5.00 a month. I never made the transfer. I was offered a job as asst. secretary to the warden if I would stay. I was the only officer besides one other one, who could speak, read and write both Spanish and English. I took the job. It was Monday through Friday, 9-5 with the same pay as my officers position and the same benefits. I translated the Offender Manual into Spanish, answered the phone, translated for inmates and officers when needed, worked in intake where inmates are booked in and released. I also worked in the mailroom and helped to deliver the mail. The mail room is a job requiring gloves. You get the usual letters with kisses on them, but you also get letters with pubic hairs in them and any number of weird, nasty, and very graphic letters. The officers only scan the letters for security reasons and legal mail is delivered unopened to the inmate. Visitation is on weekends from 8-5. It is a happy time for those who have visits and sad for the ones who stay for long sentences with no visits, no mail, all but forgotten.

I stayed in the position for about six months, I missed my work as an officer and felt like a complete sell out. I had the opportunity to meet and observe many different types of people, both inmates and officers, both good and bad. During my tenure as an officer, I always made sure that I never disrespected or mistreated any inmate under my supervision. I never felt the need to extract anymore than what society (the courts) has decided the inmate should pay. I never used my position to bully, humiliate or make the inmates feel any less of a person. Though they are inmates, they are still human beings, with feelings,  and rights and needs like any other human being.

I was sad the day I resigned and turned in my uniforms. The experiences I took away with me have taught me to look at things in an unbiased manner. While there are times a person may be taken out of society for violating the laws we have set out to keep order, There is another side to corrections that the average person never sees, where the ones entrusted to supervise, often abuse the authority granted to them and the rights of those under that authority.

Let's take a look now at the other side, where the inmate is the prey and victim. I do not know if I can name the facilities and persons involved in the following abuses, so I will not. But I have always felt the public should know and care about the abuses in our Criminal Justice System. As they say "You never know when you or someone you love will be on the other side of those bars."

I walked out of the facility that morning, hearing the doors slam behind me for the last time. It was a sound I had never gotten used to. "Good-bye Ms. Luna, we love you, we will miss you, good luck." I smiled as I went through the last checkpoint. I drove out the gate and never looked back, except in my mind.

PIctures of Prison Abuse in Texas Prisons

Abuse in the Criminal Justice System

 There are many wrongs I wish I would have spoken up and righted during my time in corrections. But there is an unwritten code that you learn very early on. Although I did not participate in any of the situations I will discuss in this part of my story, by keeping silent I am as guilty as those who performed the actual act. When I recall the years as an officer, these are my regrets. The fact that I was cared for and respected by those under my supervision makes it harder, If I had it to do over again I would do it diffrently. My consolation is knowing that I was always there to listen, spell a word, look at a new picture or help read a letter from home to someone who could not read.

During my time working with the juveniles I wittnessed physical abuse by staff of the minors they were there to supervise. the inmates were often provoked into fights with staff and then locked down in solitaire. If staff had to take an inmate to the floor, the taller guards would always stand in the door to the solitare room blocking the view of the security cameras . One morning I was assigned to sit guard with a 14 year old while she bathed, she was in isolation. As she undressed she showed me bruises that covered most of her body, I was shocked. This girl was about 5'4 and weighed around 100 to 110 pounds. As I questioned her and consoled her by listening, She told me what had taken place. After a minor argument with a member of staff, she was taken to isolation and held down by six guards, shackled and sit on until she would comply. In the units when they say take down, it is not done gently. there was no reason for this girl to have the bruises she had. Many staff members were charged with sexual contact with inmates. This facility was finally closed due to the continuing physical and sexual abuse of inmates by staff.

In the Adult Unit, Provocation and threats by staff to inmates that threaten to lengthen the inmates sentence are often used to make the inmate combative, thus being taken to H Unit. There they have no phone calls, no mail, no visitation. Many times inmate on inmate abuse leads to the entire unit being locked down. These assualts occur while staff looks the other way. They are often violent, many inmates are injured or dead when it is over. Riots often are caused by the lack of basic necessities, heat, blankets and lack of food. An assualt on inmate in adult units is not viewed as serious most of the time. Officers sit to write the incident reports together so all the stories are the same.

Many staff members in the adult units also are charged with sexual conduct with an inmate. This includes nurses, male and female staff . Staff members are often the path through which the ciggarettes, drugs, cell phones and other contraband are provided to the inmates. The majority of the time it is the inmate who suffers the hardest consequences. Making the inmates bathe in plain sight of staff, who often stand and make remarks about the size of the inmates genatalia, thus making the inmate the object of humiliation by both staff and other inmates.

Making sexual remarks about the inmates wife when they visit knowing the inmate will react, ignoring the threat of self-harm is common and lead to the death of a young inmate in the Del Rio Unit. All of these abuses should not occur. Many would not occur if the training was more rehabilitation oriented. The background checks more rigorous, and not hiring those with no training or experience in corrections.

At this time there is a severe shortage of officers, due to long hours, mandatory overtime and too much stress. This is often reflected onto the inmates. This along with overcrowding, and other problems such as health care and a lack of plain human decency when dealing with the prison population, can and does often have deadly consequences.

Please click on the links below to read more and see the stories of the other side of the Criminal Justice System.

More by this Author


Comments 32 comments

Donna 9 months ago

First of all, this lady did not work for the Texas Prison system. State Correctional Officers are never assigned to juvenile facilities. There is only one state prison in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and that is the Hutchins State Jail. My first clue was her being issued a badge, Texas Correctional Officers are not issued badges. I worked for the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice for years and I can tell you that where ever she worked, is better off now that she is gone. Of coarse she is going to try to convince the readers that she worked for the "evil Texas prison system", why.....because she married an inmate. Ms. Luna, if you want to debate me on the merits of the Texas Dept. Of Criminal Justice, I look forward to it. I was a shift Lieutenant on a medium security prison. I had come into the system as a new CO at the Ellis I Unit (Texas Death Row for males). I worked at the Daniel Unit (Minimum security) before being promoted to Sgt. of CO's at the opening of the Wallace Unit (medium security). I was later promoted to Lieutenant of CO's at the Ware Unit.

I would love to debate you, especially the "Fort Worth Unit". Want to take some time and issue a revision and tell who you really worked for, we both know it was not TDCJ-ID.


akco 2 years ago

The best advice I can give to anyone who knows someone who wants or is trying to work in a prison is don't. I have work in 2 different institutions. A max and a medium. I say this because it's not the inmates you need to worry about in all honesty as long as you are firm fair and consistent. I mean you do need to be on your guard at all times. But the administration is corrupt and also very negligent. They make policy and such to keep higher ups looking good. If your a Co doing the grind you will get the blunt end of everything. I have seen so many of my fellow officers pulled to the carpet for stuff that you cannot prevent. When your one guard for 128 in the mods where I worked at or 1 to 64 in the other you're always outnumbered. Inmates are not stupid at all. Many makes speak made up dialects of languages or hard languages as well as altered sign language. As well as little things like tapping and what to be a person on the street ad random noises. This is especially scary when I worked in the max. Because people there don't seem to stick to there own groups and work together and that makes picking up on any danger or finding things very hard. I have a lot of respect for anyone who works in prisons and pray for there safety. But I really advise.for people to take a lower paying job then being used and disposed of at states expense or worse being killed. But good luck to anyone new and and sorry to be so negative but welcome to earth's hell.


ambercita04 profile image

ambercita04 3 years ago from Winter Park

Your article came up in a google search I did. I had to write a paper on the life of a correctional officer. I used your article as a reference. If you would like to see my finished project, visit my page ambercita04.hubpages.com and look for an article entitled The Life of a Correctional Officer. Thanks for your insite!


Wendy 4 years ago

I know exactly what u mean


ASPROADDOG 4 years ago

I APOLOGIZE FOR ANY SPELLING ERRORS I MAY MAKE.

I HAVE FINALLY RETIRED FROM CALIFORNIA CORRECTIONS. I HAVE MADE A BOATLOAD OF MONEY AND PISSED IT AWAY. MY RETIREMENT IS ENOUGH FOR ME, MY WIFE AND TWO TEENAGERS STILL AT HOME. I GUESS I'M LEARNING ECONOMICS LATER IN LIFE.

JUST AS THE PLACES YOU HAVE WORKED WE SEE SIMILAR SITUATIONS. USUALLY OUR GRIEF COMES TO US FROM FELLOW WORKERS. INMATES ARE INMATES, DON'T TAKE IT PERSONAL. I HAVE ALWAYS TRIED TO STAND UP FOR THE UNDERDOG SO I GOT ACTIVE IN THE UNION. DIDN'T TAKE ME LONG TO SEE THAT CORRUPTION AND WASTE OF MONEY AT 1&1/2% OF ALL BADGE CARRIERS PAYCHECK. LIKE MOST UNIONS YOU MUST BE A MEMBER TO PARTICIPATE IN PROGRAMS THAT BENEFIT US.

IT IS HARD TO GET INTO PRISON INITIALLY BUT HARDER TO BREAK FREE WHEN OUT. THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN BY MOST ACCOUNTS. MANIPULATION BY INMATES OF THE SYSTEM SPILL OUT TO SOCIETY SO PEOPLE WHO DON'T WANT TO EARN THEIR OWN WAY LEARN WHAT TO SAY AND WHO TO SAY IT TO IN ORDER TO GET FREE MONEY AND MEDS THEY MAY NOT NEED JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN. UNFORTUNATELEY I HAVE A 31 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER WHO THINKS SOCIETY OWES HER SOMETHING. HER MOM WAS A GUARD FOR AWHILE TOO.

I HAVE WORKED MOST POSITIONS AN OFFICER CAN WORK EXCEPT VISITING. I WOULD HAVE A HARD TIME DEALING WITH FAMILY MEMBERS WHO THINK THE WORLD OF THERE INMATE. THEY LOVE THIS PERSON FOR WHATEVER REASON AND DON'T NEED ME TELLING THEM THE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT THEIR INMATE DOES AWAY FROM THE VISITING AREA. MOST FAMILY I WOULD SEE PICKING UP PAROLEES OR VISITERS IN THE PARKING LOT AND BE HELPFUL AND COURTEOUS. NOT KNOWING EXACTLY WHO THEY CAME TO SEE WAS EASIER. AFTER 25+ YEARS I HAVE TOO MUCH DIRT ON OTHER STAFF, FROM THE TOP DOWN. MOST OF US DO. I AM CONTINUING TO WORK WITH PRIVATE SECURITY WHERE THE PEOPLE I COME IN CONTACT WITH ARE GLAD WE ARE THERE. MONEY MAY NOT BE AS GOOD BUT JOB SATISFACTION IS SOMETHING. IF YOUR PLANNING ON BEING A PRISON GUARD, JOB SATISFACTION MAY NOT EXIST. IF YOU HAVE A POSITIVE IMPACT ON A PRISONERS LIFE AND THEY GET OUT AND DO WELL YOU MAY NEVER KNOW. WHAT YOU WILL KNOW IS ALL THE ONES THAT RETURN. WORK TO LIVE DON'T LIVE TO WORK.

I HAVE MADE A FEW MISTAKES THAT COST ME MONEY AND 'TIME ON THE BEACH'(SUSPENSION). TELLING THE TRUTH KEPT ME WORKING WHERE OTHERS HAVE BEEN TERMINATED FOR LESS, BECAUSE THEY TRIED TO COVER IT UP. ENOUGH FOR NOW. YOU NEED A SLIGHTLY SICK SENSE OF HUMOR


Peanutritious profile image

Peanutritious 4 years ago from Cheshire, UK

I don't believe I have just read this! I need to think about all the things I need to say. Once you have been on the wrong side of the law, you're finished!


rmattson profile image

rmattson 4 years ago from Central,Maine

My thoughts are with you through the 4 years... do your best to stay positive, keep sight of the light at the end and you'll help his time go faster with your positivity and you yourself will stay sane! I'll keep you in my thoughts and I pray that your partner comes out and is still able to be who he was before. patience and understanding will get you both through. Bless you.


christalluna1124 profile image

christalluna1124 4 years ago from Dallas Texas Author

Rmattson,

thank you for visiting my hub and your comments. I am glad that you are able to see both sides of this issue. I am very disappointed that many see those incarcerated as throw aways. many believe that they live the life of a king or something, believe me it is very far from the truth. the abuse suffered at the hands of those charged with the care of the inmates can be brutal as you can see. I am a prison wife...4 more years to go. I pray every day for his safety. I also wish the same for you and yours.

warmest regards,

chris


rmattson profile image

rmattson 4 years ago from Central,Maine

I've only recently joined the site and found your hub and I want to thank you for putting the information out there. I have not worked within the facilities but have known MANY inmates in a vaiety of facilities and have heard of things much like that of what you tell about. Years back I was married to a man who had to deal with past charges in FL and while he was there I started up a penpal service for inmates. At one time I was writing about 30 of them while waiting to find them others to correspond with. I also joined a yahoo group that was involved with extreme maltreatment of FL inmates and the stories were as horrifying as yours. My husband at the time had faced humiliation and a false write up for missing at count to which I didn't sit back with either of them. I found the email address of one of the big wigs in the department and posted him about my concerns. The day he visited my husband (who of course was concerned to speak because of retaliation) he said he was impressed that I found him because he didn't think his information was out there, my husbands reply was "she's the kind of where there's a will there is a way sort of woman."

Shortly after I went to school and earned an Associates in Criminal Justice. It floored many of the classmates that I was able to share stories from both sides. My speech class was the best, because every speech was about writing inmates and why it was important to keep them involved in "society" since their eventual release would put them back into it. I impacted only a few, but it was more than I expected. I actually had a substitute instructor once make a remark "the correctional system is not about rehabilitation," and I let loose on him since that was the main basis for it's structuring initially. This I believe is the reason there are so many issues and high rates of recidivism.

It's great that you share your experience and that there are people who speak out to educate others. Hopefully someday the right ones will read it and a difference can be made. Thanks for sharing.


christalluna1124 profile image

christalluna1124 5 years ago from Dallas Texas Author

Rick and Terry,

Thank you so much for your comments and taking the time to read my hub. Terry I like you have lost my innocence by working in corrections, I am now all too keenly aware of the similarities that we as a member share. I am no longer quick to judge others, I am more kind and forgiving...but also as you more sharply focoused on what goes on around me, but I also know that all those who will use, abuse, lie, cheat and steal are not necessarily those locked up and in many...(as in Texas) too many cases are the ones who should not be locked up. I sit and watch weekly as the Texas Death Chamber grinds it seems sometimes at a more rapid pace each time without discretion. As I watch this i know in my heart that the decision to leave the dept of corrections was the right one...even though I left many friends on both sides of the bars behind. I used to drive a truck cross-country with my husband, I saw the prisons in California and often thought of working there....but after Texas my heart just wasn't in it anymore. Perhaps if I had I wouldn't be so jaded in my feelings now.

Rick, I am glad you enjoyed the article, it will take me some time to finish this series as you said I want it to be as accuratel as possible. please keep reading...it for those who seek the truth like yourself for whom I write.

Warmest regards,

Chris


Rick Baird profile image

Rick Baird 5 years ago from Three Rivers, Michigan

wow what a compelling read, write more its refreshing to read truth and not make believe


Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 5 years ago

Chris, just finished your article. It would appear that you all are about 50 years behind the California system. I worked for 25 years for California Department of corrections, in 1980 we were trained for about 4 weeks, in the late 80's that changed to about 3 months and it is around 6 months today. New officers continue training at their institution for an additional year (probationary).

I was initially told by an old guard always be fair, honest and consistent, that turned out to be good advise. I also found that making it clear to staff I worked with if they ever over stepped their authority, they better man up and tell on themselves, as I would not lie for them.

However, a majority of my frustration came from staff, Upper administrative staff. Many either never worked housing units or they were lazy and useless as officers, and were worse once in a postion to set policy, usually to cover their back sides.

I worked all levels inside two different institutions, and as you the violence is sometimes over whelming. My last 5 years in the system I was a parole agent, and really liked the job. If an inmate wanted to go straight you could make a difference. A majority of the parolees I had were gang affiliated, I worked with other State and Federal agencies and made a lot of good cases against a lot of bad people. I have had many threats, most just talk, but several you have to take serriously. The worst part I have found, is that due to all my experiances, even after having been retired for 3 1/2 years. I do not like crowds, its hard to enjoy any event including a trip to the local mall. You are always watching, always identifying threats, gang members etc. I found that I have lost my ignorance and am therefore keenly aware of my surroundings at all times. I see families with their children unaware that they are surrounded by three gang bangers as mom leave an open purse on the baby stroller as she attends to child, or Dad's wallet halfway out of his back pocket as he bends down to point something out to little Johnny. The funny thing is, me and the gang banger are doing the same things, checking the area for possible danger, and if we make eye contact, he immediately knows who I am and I also know him. Sometimes I wish I could just enjoy outings, but that was the price I have to pay for working in a prison.

Anyway, liked your hub, as i get time i will read others.

Thanks


christalluna1124 profile image

christalluna1124 5 years ago from Dallas Texas Author

hijra and kerianne,

Fiest let me say that I am truly sorry for the pain, suffering and humiliation you had to experience due to the gross neglect and lack of human dignity shown to the inmates who fall into the clutches of the Texas prison system. I know that you will never be able to forget or forgive and I truly understand your view and pain. As a victim of sexual abuse myself I know the nightmares, the flashbacks and the inability to cope and hurt yourself. i am truly at a loss for words which is unusal for me. please accept my deepest apologies for all that you endured. No human being deserves that. any time you need to talk please email me... christaldyanluna@att.net you will always have a friend.

Warmest regards,

Chris


hijra 5 years ago

I advocate surgical castration as a medical panacea and punitive treatment for convicted sex offenders. And for reasons completely unrelated to a convicted and/or suspected sex offender, I also advocate surgical castration & penectomy in the treatment of those afflicted with an unwanted sexual addiction, one that specifically doesn’t pose the slightest threat or risk to any other human being outside of that person as their own victim.

Before getting started, so you will understand where my knowledge derives forming the argument supporting surgical castration as a medical panacea curing any/all sexual dysfunction, I was wrongly convicted of a crime I didn’t commit and spent 22 years in prison before obtaining release. It is my prison experiences and victimization by convicted inmate sex offenders while in prison from 20 to 42 years old that forms the basis of my empirical knowledge to form an opinion on this particular subject.

I am not here to argue the pros and cons of wrongful convictions in America, or why we should or shouldn’t have the death penalty as a criminal justice solution. The sole reason I am here is to lend you my knowledge on the subject of convicted sex offenders and why I believe penectomies (the amputation of the male penis) and surgical castration would end sexual crimes perpetrated by men in a free society.

Having said that, I was wrongly convicted of a crime I didn't commit in what became known as the worst documented example of police & prosecutorial misconduct in Texas history. So there is absolutely no misunderstanding on the subject of my full and complete innocence, 22 years later, DNA also screamed out innocence for the sex crime I was sent to prison for.

My introduction to prison branded a convicted homosexual sex offender - - with the sex crime against a female or child being the very worst offense a person can go to any prison for - - was to immediately have to swap my male boxer underwear for shaving razors and a pair of girls panties. Either I shaved all evidence of masculinity off by way of body hair and bend over and spread my legs, or I would be stabbed and killed. I was ruthlessly sodomized and “turned out” as a prison punk. "Good Pussy" was branded/carved into my backside where it remains today as a haunting reminder of my life in prison. For the next 20 years, I struggled in a man-made-hell brutalized as a prison punk who answered to the girl name “Kerianne” with nowhere to run and no where to hide, desperately trying to hold on to hope and sanity. Then when my only brother was murdered, I crumbled and loss my hope of a little while.

Before you judge me for the episodes of physically hurting myself that accompanied my long prison stay, please try to keep in mind there was no therapy, no friends and no support. Prison is a food chain and only the strong survive. The first time I was raped I told the prison guards. They in turn told the inmates. I was beaten and nearly killed in retaliation for “snitching.” I never trusted the male guards again after that. If and when I had to move away from danger to try and save my own life as an innocent man, I had to serious self-mutilate myself.

As the years of physical, sexual and emotional abuses grinded away on my psyche subjugated into sexual slavery to avert being murdered, the abuse began to trigger an uncontrollable Pavlovian response of arousal. It humiliates me painfully to write this, but…. when ordered to strip naked and “bend over and spread your legs,” my submissive response, the shame, the embarrassment, it took its toll. The shame associated with this sexual stimulation went deeper than anything I can explain. It repulsed me. In a desperate act to rid myself of it and keep myself safe from the other inmates, I tied off my penis and testicles and almost successfully took them off.

For over two years I was completely free of any hint of sexual interest or even the vaguest tendril of thought. Yes, I continued to hurt myself at times but that was sometimes to get one of the female guards attention so I could inform, or privately tell her who was about to hurt me unless I was moved away from the danger.

Nevertheless, it is because of this personal 20-year prison experience with my own near castration for the reasons I briefly outline above - - there is so much more that led to this horrendous act while in prison - - that I know with moral certainty surgical castration is an absolute panacea to end any/all sexual thoughts or interest in a male.

In terms of a sexual offender, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind the loss of the male offenders penis and testicles would serve both society’s need as a deterrent, but serve a female victim’s need for retribution. And since prison is considered part of that society, removing the convicted sex offenders penis and testicles would prevent the offender from daydreaming about his sexual conquest by re-living them on other weak inmates sexually.


Kerianne 5 years ago

You are awesome. I would like to talk to you sometime.


christalluna1124 profile image

christalluna1124 5 years ago from Dallas Texas Author

Chris,

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my article and yes I would be very interested in collaboating on a book on this subject. Please contact me by my personal email

christaldyanluna@att.net

Warmest regards,

Chris luna


christalluna1124 profile image

christalluna1124 5 years ago from Dallas Texas Author

Kaye,

I am so sorry about your sons and the things they must endure in TYC and TDCJ. I think it would have been easier for me had I never worked inside, maybe then I would have never known the horrors of those who must endure the pain and humiliation on the inside and the pain experienced by the families left behind. Our hands are tied and as long as Rick Perry is the Gov. of Texas I have at most a faint hope that things will change. But on one thing I will tell you, (1) there are not enough people who care and the ones of us who do simply do not have the funds to do so, (2) In Texas we have a government that is called itsself hard on crime...with the truth being that the only reason for such massive incarceration is the money they receive to keep our loved ones there. I pray for you and your family and wish you the best. I currently work as Executive director of a prisoner reform group called CURE. Please email me at my email christaldyanluna@att.net. Maybe there is something I can do to help you.

Warmest Regards,

Chris Luna


Kaye Lynn Peddy 5 years ago

I would just like to say as a mother of three beautiful boys, I have experienced first hand the evils of both Texas Youth Commission and TDCJ. Unfortumately it extends to your local county jails as well. I know because two of my boys have spent the majority of their lives in either TYC or TDCJ. Bothe are currently incarcerated. There is an inexplicable evil inside those places that is so pervasive as to be utterly horrifying. The things spoken of inthis article are true and so much worse. The most devestating part is the A.) there are not enough people to do anything about it and B.) Relatively few in positions to do anything about it. God bless and keep you and your family. You are a blessing to those we love behind the walls!


Chrisshawn 5 years ago

I just got out about a year ago and I want to write a book about everything I saw and went though while I was down. Do you know how I would Go about doing that maybe we could work together and do a double take from the view of gray and white


OpinionDuck profile image

OpinionDuck 5 years ago

nice hub.

How would you change the system to Eliminate drugs and contrabands from getting into the prison.

How would you handle the gang situation.

What do you think about Sheriff Joe in Arizona?

~:}


christalluna1124 profile image

christalluna1124 6 years ago from Dallas Texas Author

New CO's Wife.

The best advice I can give you as a former CO is the same as I gave to the many new CO's who worked with me. Some made it, some didn't. As you stated, not everyone is cut out for this job. Don' t try to be Billy Bad Boots because you have the badge and authority. remember there are always more inmates than officers, especially due to the huge shortage of officers and the continuing use of horrible sentencing laws. Second, make sure that your personal affairs are in order. I don't mean to scare you but things do happen. Third, do not demand more than society has said the inmate owes...in other words, if the inmate is serving his sentence and staying out of trouble, if he doesn't disrespect you, don't disrespect them. you never know when the person behind bars could be your loved one...look at my situation. Lastly, pray, enjoy each other and who knows..your husband may come to love the job as I did with a passion.

Best Wishes and warmest regards,

Chris


A new C.O. wife 6 years ago

I have been worried about my Husband who is now in the acamemy. You experiences are not different from others but very interesting and well written. This is a whole new environment for us and I'm so scared for his safety. I can't see that changing in time but he is open to learn what he can. The ecomomy has put people working in jobs they would have not ever thought of. Having said that, You are going to have many people that are not well suited to endure this life.


christalluna1124 profile image

christalluna1124 6 years ago from Dallas Texas Author

Fire and Tom, Thanks for your comments. Fire I hope your experience in corrections was better than mine. i am still saddened to remember that it was that way and knowing my husband is there for the next 6 1/2 Years

Regards, Chris


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 6 years ago from Ohio

This was very interesting and well written. I so appreciate reading about people who have actually been there. I've always known that much of the system is a nightmare. Looks like you saw some of it. Thanks for writing this...it is very important.


flread45 profile image

flread45 6 years ago from Montana

I can relate to this story,as I was a Correctional Officer..


christalluna1124 profile image

christalluna1124 6 years ago from Dallas Texas Author

That is Texas Justice for you. I am ashamed to say. I enjoyed your articles.

Warmest regards,

Chris


melissa 6 years ago

The whole article sickings me ...that we let this happen..and nothing is done about any of it..just awful


christalluna1124 profile image

christalluna1124 6 years ago from Dallas Texas Author

Thanks Freta and Tammy, I have had a very fullfilling and rewarding life. God has been good to me. I have worn many hats, truck driver 48 states and Canada, Correctional Officer, Court Official, Mental Health Counselor, and many others. Even now with my menatl illness I feel blessed to have had the opportunities and experiences that influence my writings. I believe that nothing is a better teacher than experience and I have had many. All of this has made me stronger in the harder times I am going through now.

By the way Tammy, Canada is beautiful.

Happiest Of Holidays,

Chris

P.s. I need to fix the links. The ones to the above stories are on the pages.


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 6 years ago from Southern California

Whew! What an interesting life you've had. Besides being interesting, your writing is superb. you really need to chronicle this in a book. I was totally mesmerized, I could not stop reading, until I finished. Oh, by the way, you didn't put any links for us to read, (at the end you said click on the links below). I must come back and read this again, I know I missed some interesting points. Very, very good, I think a must read for everyone.


Tammy Lochmann profile image

Tammy Lochmann 6 years ago

Great article...You have had a colorful career very lucky you have lots of knowledge and experiences to write about. I really enjoyed reading this one especially since it was an account of a first hand witness. Thanks for writing this.

Tammy


christalluna1124 profile image

christalluna1124 6 years ago from Dallas Texas Author

Thanks Tammy,

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season and are ready for Christmas. I am trying to get my score back up. It seems like these articles that I am passioned about do the best.

Happy holidays,

Chris


Tammy Lochmann profile image

Tammy Lochmann 6 years ago

Wow! I will have to revisit later to read it again and take it all in.

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    Easter

     It is almost Easter and once again I am sad. I miss my husband. I have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and told that with luck I have 10 years to live. My husband has 6 years to go in a federal prison. I am scared that I may die and never see him before he is released. He is 10 years my senior but I love him so much. My only wish is to see him and touch him one more time. I am a prison wife... but  I will never give up on him and I will never let go. It is hard the same prison I was once employed in now holds the only thing in my life that matters. HOW IRONIC!!

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