Incarceration Nation

Increased Violence Prompts Statewide Prison Lockdown in Texas

By Jason Renard Walker

Uncontrollable violence and drug smuggling within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) compelled officials to launch a statewide prison lockdown, on the early morning of September 6, 2023, and lasting until September 15, 2023. Prisoners where I am housed woke up hungry and disappointed.

The lockdown occurred on our scheduled commissary day and breakfast sacks were not distributed until after 12:00 P.M. The normal time is 4:00 A.M. TDCJ officials suggest that the violence increasing throughout the system is linked to the amount of drugs that always seems to find its way into the prisons, justifying the ensuing mass cell search.

This lockdown will remain intact until each prison within the agency is searched for contraband, namely drugs and cellphones, which may take over a month. It also comes amid the recent change in policy that no longer allows friends and family of prisoners in TDCJ to send mail directly to the prison. All mail of this variety is now sent to a digital processing center, where it is inspected, scanned, and electronically sent to our Securus tablets—a measure TDCJ claimed will help curtail the amount of drugs being used, sold, and distributed throughout the system. A measure that failed miserably within the first 90 days of the new policy. But like I declared in a past article outlining the new TDCJ mail policy1, such a move will only increase the amount of violence in an overpopulated and understaffed prison system. And it has.

This is the first lockdown of this kind I’ve experienced during my 15 years stay in various Texas prisons. And not only will this search, and seizure operation have no effect on the violence and drug abuse in TDCJ, it will only result in staff confiscating some prisoner’s property on frivolous grounds, ransacking cells, and doling out disciplinary infractions for items that wear and tear over time, but are considered altered items, justifying their confiscation.

Throughout the course of the lockdown paltry sack lunches are handed out each mealtime, that fall well below TDCJ dietary guidelines—for example, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a dab of goo in the center of the bread and a bologna sandwich, or some other low-calorie item to go with the PBJ, like a boiled egg or several dried prunes.

Despite TDCJ’s notion that this lockdown will have a positive effect on reducing drug related violence, their failure to be proactive, instead of reactive, reveals an issue they themselves have created. They insist on keeping the fox in charge of the henhouse.

Write to:

Jason Renard Walker#1532092

Powledge unit

P.O.Box 660400

Dallas,Tx 75266-0400

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