propriate type of sentence and, if it is to be imprisonment, its duration. It is then used by prison officials in many instances, primarily at the early stages of the development of a sound institutional program. It may also prove helpful to prisons in arranging visits, checking letters, and sometimes in maintaining family ties and meeting family difficulties in the community.” Most of TDC’s women prisoners have no pre-sentence reports in their files. Those who do are typically probation violators who weren’t originally sentenced to prison. Since their presentence reports anticipated probationand therefore no family separationthey pay little or no attention to plans for the care of children who may be in the picture. Where are the children? It is up to the convicted womanand her husband and relatives, if they exist and are willing to helpto see to her children’s care and support. Many women are too frightened of state authorities to seek assistance of any sort from the Department of Human Resources; they fear loss of legal custody and, worse, termination of their parental rights. Realistic or not, such fearsand they are often groundlesscause anxiety and desperation. What do they end up doing about their children? No one keeps track officially, but my interviews revealed that most turn to a relativeto one time-tested familial institution in particular, the grandmother. Only a handful can count on husbands to look after their children. Even in the rare case where the father has custody and provides support, a grandmother seems to be the real caretaker. In many instances, the father drops out of sight; often he is in prison himself. Financial support comes from relatives, and is frequently supplemented by food stamps and meager Aid to Families with Dependent Children payments. \(Texas ranks 43rd nationally in the size of AFDC payments to the averwomen have no relative able or willing to care for their children, who then are usually placed in foster homes by DHR child welfare workers. A link between prison and home Not until about three years ago was there any formal link between Texas inmates and social service agencies in their home communities. In January of 1975, DHR opened a special liaison office in Huntsville to aid inmates with problems involving their families. The DHR staff of five has handled about a thousand cases since beginning their inmate work, and although less than 4 percent of the TDC population is female, 36 percent of the liaison office’s clients have been women. Most cases concern children their housing, the arrival of AFDC checks or food stamps, and so on. In the past three years, 72 babies have been born in Huntsville to women prisoners and 12 more inmates are pregnant. It’s up to the five social workers to find places for the infants to live; so far, they’ve managed to get relatives to take in all but two. It’s hard to imagine how inmate mothers would cope with such problems without the DHR office, yet its survival is tenuous at best. Its funding, never an item in DHR’s regular budget, had been covered first by TDC and now by DHR on what can only be called an emergency help each other in the library. Since the suit was filed, Martha Quinlan and Wanda Moore, the prisoners who initiated the litigation, have not been allowed to use the writ room at the same time or to discuss their suit with one another. These suits are drawn to attack specific problems, and all action is still pending in both. But a much broader suit brought on behalf of Texas’ women inmates is in the works. It will charge that they are the victims of across-the-board discrimination and allege that conditions in TDC’s women’s units amount to unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. The suit is also called Quinlan v. Estelle; attorney Susan Perkins told the Observer that the National Lawyers Guild has been interviewing prisoners and compiling supporting data since last summer. It will charge that TDC-sponsored educational opportunities for women both academic and vocationalare far more limited than those available to men. For example, TDC’s arrangements with local colleges allow qualified and in terested men to earn bachelor’s degrees, but women prisoners have only junior college level courses available to them. Vocational training open to women inmates is limited to traditional, sexstereotyped courses in cosmetology, horticulture, floriculture, secretarial science, and homemaking. About 70 vocational courses are open to men in construction trade skills, data processing, automotive repair, and so on. The suit will go on to score TDC’s classification and segregation of homosexuals. An official determination of homosexuality is made soon after women arrive at Goree, and those so identified are housed separately from other inmates and denied assignment to choicer prison jobs. They are forced to wear bandanas as insignia of their status. They are given no chance to refute the classification, and the plaintiffs allege that its use and the arbitrary and capricious manner in which TDC decides who is and who isn’t a lesbian violate prisoners’ constitutional right to due process. Quinlan will allege sexual discrimination in the administration of work release programs and cite TDC’s failure to pro tect inmates from physical harm, illegal use of “building tenders” \(inmate governing “administrative segregation” medical care for prisoners. Some of these charges are identical to those brought on behalf of all prisonersboth male and femalein Ruiz v. Estelle, a suit in which the inmates are represented by the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department, though Ruiz does not specifically charge sex discrimination. After more than four years of legal maneuvering, Ruiz will finally go to trial in September in federal Dist. Judge William Wayne Justice’s Tyler courtroom. The Quinlan attorneys had planned to file their briefs in federal court in Houston. But its similarity to Ruizand Ruiz’s early trial datehave tempted them to take a shortcut to public airing of their charges. Perkins told the Observer that the Lawyers Guild now plans to turn the case over to the Greater Houston chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and ask its lawyers to intervene in Ruiz to get the women’s discrimination charges added to its pleading. L.R. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9
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