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Buried Alive in Texas Prisons (The Hidden Torture in America

Updated on September 10, 2012

Solitary Confinement

The Cage within the Cage
The Cage within the Cage


Torture in Texas Prisons

The TDCJ mission statement reads, “The mission of The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is to provide public safety, promote positive change in offender behavior, and reintegrate offenders into society...” However, instead of, promoting, “positive change in offender behavior…” the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, is in effect burying prisoners alive, (indefinitely) to deteriorate physically, mentally and emotionally by implementing administrative control in the form of Ad Seg, the confinement of prisoners in a prison within the prison.

The average Ad Seg cell, also known as the pit, a hole, the box, is typically a nine by six foot unit constructed of metal and concrete with a solid steel door. A toilet, concrete bed and two-inch mattress furnish most cells. Some cells are soundproof and lit round-the-clock, while others are without light for months at a time. Many cells have neither windows nor air conditioners. In addition, prisoners are not allowed to have TVs. And, aside from the 15 minute shower and the one-hour-a-day when the prisoner is taken into another empty pen to exercise, the prisoner in Ad Seg is confined in this cell 23 hours a day, day after day, month after month, year after year and decade after decade.

Prisoners exposed to these extreme living conditions are subjected to: prolonged social isolation, human contact deprivation, sensory deprivation, physical restraint and the absence of mental and environmental stimulation. According to experts, research and numerous studies conducted throughout the last 40 years: prisoners with pre-existing mental conditions severely worsen, whereas healthy prisoners begin to develop new, and often permanent, psychological and emotional illnesses,

These prisoners may develop multiple mental conditions such as; depression, schizophrenia, psychosis, paranoia, post traumatic stress disorder and insanity. They often experience symptoms of; delusions, hallucinations, depersonalization, confusion, irrational anger, anxiety, nervousness, aggression, rage, helplessness, abandonment, panic attacks, despair, increased suicidal tendencies and even death.

Currently, there are approximately over ten thousand prisoners in Ad Seg in the state of Texas alone. Moreover, contrary to popular belief that Ad Seg houses "the worst of the worst,” it is often the most vulnerable prisoners, not the most violent who end up in long-term Ad Seg. Most are mentally ill, many of them are drug related offenders, some are there for protective custody and some of them are political prisoners.

The abuse and injustice that Ad Seg prisoners are subjected to is so widely used today, that TDCJ, (and many U.S. prisons) are ultimately disregarding rehabilitation and due process altogether. For example, prisoners in Ad Seg are restricted from participating in any form of rehabilitation activities. This includes any participation in GED classes, career classes, anger management classes, drug rehab classes or any other form of activity that could potentially benefit the prisoner’s status and outlook. While assigned to Ad Seg, prisoners should be granted due process. Prisoners should be represented by counsel to see the evidence against them, to have proceedings recorded and to have their case reviewed in a timely manner. This however, is usually not the case.

In addition, if the prisoner is lucky enough to get a review for release out of Ad Seg, due to the extreme deprivation and the lack of rehabilitation, it is unlikely that prisoners will be able to convince the review panel to let them out of Ad Seg. Consequently, the cycle continues. However, if prisoners are released from Ad Seg, it is usually because the prisoner “mandatory release date” has arrived. This however, only applies to those prisoners who were sentenced before 1996 otherwise; the Texas Department of Criminal Justice can hold the prisoners indefinitely.

According to L. Sullivan on NPR, “Texas, took 1,458 inmates out of isolation in 2005, walked them to the prison’s gates and took the hand cuffs off.” TDCJ often releases prisoners who have spent years confined in Ad Seg with little if any transitional preparation. This in turn, severely weakens the inmate's capacity to successfully reintegrate into society and thereby strengthens the probability that the prisoner will continue to commit crimes. Consequently, as a punishment, Ad Seg goes beyond a torturous, inhumane and unjust treatment of prisoners. Moreover, it inadvertently poses a threat to public safety upon the prisoner’s release.


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