By Jorge Antonio Renaud

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Extra resources for Behind the Walls: A Guide for Families and Friends of Texas Prison Inmates (North Texas Crime and Criminal Justice Series, 1)

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Inmates with a more than basic education and a willingness to accept responsibility will eventually work their way into one of the “Cadillac” jobs—library clerk, boiler room operator, kitchen commissary clerk. Those jobs are essential to the running of a unit, and as long as the inmates assigned to those positions don’t get too far out of line—no inmate is indispensable, and no job is truly safe—they will essentially be left alone for the length of their sentences. A few jobs that inmates are no longer allowed to hold are front office and infirmary clerking positions.

Inmates do not have access to microwaves, or refrigerators, or Bunsen burners, or hot plates of any kind. Inmates who do not have money to buy food can usually scrounge up a few stamps, so there is always a market for food stolen from the kitchen. Hustling kitchen workers make sandwiches, hamburgers, or just meat packets, hire smugglers and send them to different living quarters, knowing there will be someone willing to pay a few stamps for a snack. Desirable items are cheese, peanut butter, bread, crackers, and anything that can be used to spice up packaged noodle soup—the staple of store-bought meals.

But if Level I is a sort of benign isolation, Levels II and III are horrifying in their effect on inmates. Here I will refer to the March 1, 1999, ruling by Judge William Wayne Justice concerning TDCJ’s ongoing efforts to prove that the Ruiz accords were unnecessary because TDCJ had improved its policies and self-policing to the extent that federal oversight was no longer needed. Judge Justice disagreed, and the following testimony helped convince him. According to Dr. ” (Ruiz v. Johnson, 37 F.

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