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but the TDC has refused. Atty. Gen. John Hill has ruled that the committee has no subpoena power. and passage of the resolution calling for a Justice Department investigation, the committee heard inmates’ testimony. The first to speak was Marion Ernest McMillan, a 29-year-old black who has served four years of a ten-year sentence. McMillan was convicted of causing $200 worth of damage to a Dallas storeowner’s floor during a demonstration \(a gallon of milk committee that he and the others decided to testify despite “a lot of fear … on the part of inmates about speaking out.” McMillan also spoke at length on Texas’ three-man Board of Pardons and Paroles, describing it as hopelessly ill-structured and archaic. He argued that, among numerous improvements needed, the board should be expanded to include psychologists, former inmates and members of minority groups, and that prisoners’ applications for parole should be reviewed more often than once a year. Philip Ragsdale, another inmate, detailed his unsuccessful attempts to get medical treatment and a bland diet for his peptic ulcer, which he said causes him to vomit blood in the fields. Ragsdale has spent 10 of his 30 years behind bars, and told committee members, “TDC is my home now. I know its inmates, its officials, its structures and policies, and I know its many problems. I also know that its problems affect not only the inmates and their loved ones, but also the whole of society and every aspect of government itself.” A third inmate, Lawrence Pope, described building tenders as “an auxiliary guard force for prison officials,” and said he knew of three inmates who had died at the Retrieve Unit because of inadequate medical attention. Other prisoners complained of not having access to legal materials and of erratic mail service. \(Several had not received their letters from the committee informing them that they inmates in the Senate chamber, hearing their versions of life in the TDC while stone-faced guards stood by the doors and paced in the foyer, made a visible impression on spectators and committee members alike. Although it may be a while before inmates are allowed to testify again, there is a Citizen’s Advisory Committee to the Joint Committee that has held hearings around the state during the last few months, attempting to involve the public in prison reform. Further hearings are scheduled. A group called the Community Prison Coalition has also been working to bring about reform. The CPC includes members of the Prison Bus Project \(which transports friends and relatives of inmates \(law and para-legal students volunteering Assistance for Rehabilitation \(which offers aid and re-adjustment counseling to Prison Coalition and Ex-Inmates United. ANOTHER factor in the reassessment of the workings and structure of the TDC is the upcoming Governor’s Conference on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals. Its purpose is to develop a comprehensive state plan for crime prevention and reduction by fiscal year 1976, using funds provided by the National Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. The guidelines for the plan come from the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, which spent two years preparing its report. In Texas, subcommittees have been appointed to study the national committee’s report and make recommendations to the full conference, scheduled for November or December. The The staff reports were long and as thorough as time and access would permit. What follows is a summarization of each. It should be noted that conditions and atmosphere apparently vary from unit to unit, and depend to a large extent on the individual warden. Prisori Disciplinary Procedures The strongest point made by staffer Esther Chavez is that “the question of guilt or innocence is seldom addressed [by disciplinary committees]. Instead, the question concerns the punishment to b’e given.” Rules and regulations are often ambiguous, resulting in inconsistent punishment. Also, Chavez found that any breach of the regulations can result in the harshest form of punitive segregation, solitary confinement. Building Tender System This report combines John Albach’s findings with information included in a master’s thesis done by Major Norman Jarrell in 1972 for the Institute of Contemporary Corrections in Huntsville. Jarrell observed that “today’s large overcrowded institutions are inadequately staffed, and many use ;inmate assistance to maintain control.” Albach lists the duties of building tenders as the TDC sets them out, but concludes that elimination of abuses would require a joint effort of oversight by the TDC and additional appropriations for personnel by the Legislature. Inmate Living Conditions Albach found that the degree of racial segregation in each unit varied “tremendously.” In the entire system, 56 percent of the inmates are in racially or ethnically segregated living units. The TDC has consistently denied that inmates are in any way segregated according to race or color. Prisoner Classification This report deals with the newly-convicted prisoner’s three-week stay at the Diagnostic Unit, where he is medically evaluated, tested, interviewed and classified. Albach found that the medical evaluation takes “about five minutes” and determines the type of work to which the inmate will be assigned. There are no psychiatrists on the Diagnostic Unit staff. The inmates are tested to determine what educational programs are appropriate: no testing is done in Spanish. Two interviews during the inmate’s stay determine his security rating and rehabilitation rating, which in turn decide where he will live and what rehabilitative programs will be open to him. Albach found that the unit assignments are made on the basis of restrictive classes and institutional convenience. Treatment of the Mentally Ill and Mentally Retarded Staffer Jim Gibson found the situation grim. Gross inadequacies in qualified personnel and equipment combine to make the prospects for rehabilitation practically non-existent. Prisoner Education Education in the TDC is provided by the Windham School District through the secondary level, and by eight junior and senior colleges. Academic, vocational, bilingual and special education courses are available. According to staff member Paul Keeper, the educational system is potentially a good one, despite problems with facilities and personnel. The most important hindrance, Keeper reported, is the TDC’s pride in its self-sufficiency. Inmates work to raise cattle, pick cotton, make soap and much more. As a result, some classes meet only once a week. TDC Personnel Albach’s report named the most serious problems as understaffing in the area of security, under-representation of minorities, the absence of minimum educational requirements, high turnover and the rural location of the units, which hinders recruiting and makes utilization of volunteers difficult. C.A. The Texas Observer