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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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      Sqiar 3 years ago

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      ginger 4 years ago

      My son is 22. Has been in prison since he was 18. He had a psychotic break a year ago from TRAUMA and now has been diagnosed with full blown schitzophrenia by the state hospital in wichita falls texas. He had to be evaluated to see if he was competant to stand trial for a new charge of assaulting an officer and a doctor at the jail. They determined that he is now suffering serious mental health issues and it was the hospitals recommendation that he not be placed back in a prison setting or his condition would be aggravated and could potentially become even worse. He then immediately had to sit 90 days in seg and was recently denied parole even though ive urged the board to let him come home so I can get him some help. Hes served a year on a two year sentence and they are saying he will not get out until january of 2015. Im afraid he is going to die in there. I can't get anyone to help. I know each day in there he is suffering to the point he now has an illness they say is uncurable. I need my boy out of prison. I need a lawyer. A judge. Something. Anything. Anyone. I can't sleep. I can't eat. I can't have a life knowing my son is dying in there. He needs treatment now or I fear something more awful is ahead and I feel helpless to do anything about it. I need my boy to come home. Hes holding on by a thread. I can't believe our system.He is fighting for his life still. Somebody help. Where do I go? What can I do? Please let me know if u have any advice or any direction. I PRAY HE LIVES THROUGH THIS. I AM A DEVASTATED MOTHER....

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      sarah G 5 years ago

      what a messed up sorry m-fucken Government we have i hope they get what they they got coming to them.

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      justamom 6 years ago

      My son has been in ad seg for over 8 years.. He is NOT a gang member, he is NOT a murderer, he is NOT a Rapist, he is NOT a pedafile, he is NOT a drug dealer, he is NOT a Thief,.,,, He is in prison for a fight with his FISTS.. IF the guards don't like a prisoner, they are mistreated!!!

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      Bill Weber 6 years ago

      It is a lie that there are political prisoners. This article is repleat with unsubstantiated assertions to the point of having no credibility. When you have real, effective, and cost effective solutions then you should write. Until then stop misleading people.

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      elizabeth felber 6 years ago