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perpetuation of conditions that cause them to live in constant fear of attack. They say TDC fails to classify and assign them in a way that would minimize the likelihood of inmate-on-inmate assaults. They say also that the guards aren’t trained properly, there aren’t enough guards, and the guards aren’t in the right places; worst of all, selected inmates are employed illegally as guards and they use their positions to exploit their fellows. TDC’s ratio of personnel to inmates is very lowonly about half the national average. Arnold Pontesso, a correctional expert with more than 30 years’ experi ence, including service as warden of a federal prison and as director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, inspected the Texas institutions for the Justice Department. He says that “with the present archaic system of inmate classification, the plantation syndrome, and TDC’s obsession with preventing escapes and production of farm produce and factory goods, the number of personnel would need to be more than doubled to provide adequate supervision and personal security for the inmate population.” Fred Wilkinson, a penologist with similar long experience who was the’.defendants’ representative on the inspection, disputes the plaintiffs’ complaint by citing the very low numbers of assaults recorded in TDC records. But, as Pontesso points out, reported assaults may be low because the guards are in no position to see them going on, much less prevent them. He says, “The situation is bad in cell houses but is much worse in dormitories where the lack of supervision is most noticeable. Dormitories are often crowded beyond belief and there are no officers assigned inside these living areas. Minimal supervision is provided by roving officers in corridors.” Pontesso’s opinion conforms to the findings of the joint committee on prison reform chaired by State Sen. Chet Brooks and State Rep. Mickey Leland in 1974: “The cells are arranged in long rows and may be stacked as high as five tiers. Guards in the halls cannot observe much of what goes on in the wings. Acts of aggression among inmates go unnoticed.” All of this contributes to undue reliance on selected inmates to supervise and inform on the rest. Officially known as “building tenders” in most of the institutions, their employment as surrogate guards is illegal, forbidden by a 1973 state law that says, “An inmate in the Texas Department of Corrections or in any jail may not act in a supervisory or administrative capacity over other inmates [nor] administer disciplinary action.” No one denies that the building tenders exist. But according to TDC, they are sort of like janitors, keeping the cellblocks clean and, with their rings of keys, controlling access to the cells. TDC’s position goes like this: using inmate guards is illegal; therefore, there are no inmate guards. Which is a bit like saying burglary is illegal; therefore, there are no burglaries. TDC director Estelle has made precisely this comparison, yet actually seems to think it disposes of the building tender issue in TDC’s favor. Just about everyone else agrees that they are more than janitors. When the FBI agents questioned inmates, they asked about the building tenders’ duties, and Edgar Hartung, the agent in’ charge, summarized what hundreds of inmates replied: “[The inmates] state that the TDC utilizes building tenders to maintain discipline, and that the building tenders often brutalize their fellow inmates, at the direction of the officials of the TDC. The inmates state that the building tenders receive special privileges for cooperating with the prison officials.” :More telling are FBI reports of what a few former building tenders said:* 4,G. has been a building, tender . . . but he resigned because of brutality. The other building tenders would make him join in beating of other inmates. When he got the job, the TDC officers told him he was to inform on other inmates, enforce rules which they set, and use whatever means the building tenders thought was necessary . . . Building tenders whip inmates, carry out orders of guards, and inform on other guards.” “B advises that a building tender operates the television, keeps inmates in line, has power to arrest in mates, keeps order on the tank. He is like a supervisor over the inmates.” “C advised he has been a building tender. . . . C ‘s respon sibilties and instructions were to protect the TDC employees from the inmates and C had available clubs, nightsticks, knives and blackjacks to him to be used against the inmates should they become necessary . . . he advised that some of his privileges in being a building tender were that he was allowed to get in fights with his enemy inmates without fear of reprisals from the TDC staff. . . .” “B advised that while he was a building tender, he was in charge of a * The FBI reports mention inmates by name. The Observer chooses not to. tank or wing area and his duties was to care for the inmates and look after the inmates in his wing. He advised that part of his duties was to keep them in line, to keep the troublemakers from making trouble, and to keep the writ writers from writing writs.” The plaintiffs in the Ruiz case maintain that this inmate-guard system and the climate of fear it perpetuates are not only , illegal, but unconstitutional. Though both Pontesso and the legislative committee that investigated in 1974 are convinced that the system does work the way the inmates say it does, TDC officials continue to deny its very existence. At the trial, it will be the prisoners’ word against theirs. Unsafe and unhealthy A number of the plaintiffs’ other charges relate to health and safety, and the prisoners interviewed by the FBI had much to say on these subjects. Agent Hartung summarized what they told the FBI: “Almost all present or former inmate witnesses . . . complain of inadequate medical care and/or lack thereof. They state that the TDC lacks proper medical facilities, competent doctors, and is generally insensitive to their complaints.” He continued, “They state that they often suffer industrial or workrelated injuries due to faulty equipment; carelessness, or inadequate warnings. The present or past inmates complain of unsanitary conditions in the prison such as dirty and/or inedible food, cockroaches, rats, a variety of bugs and mos quitoes in the living quarters, unclean cells, shower stalls, and bathrooms.” On these issues inmate testimony is likely to carry less weight than that of . expert witnesses. But the expertsand there are a slew of them, each with impeccable credentialsare split. There will be doctors, nutritional consultants, industrial hygienists, public health officials, and industrial safety experts on both sides of every conceivable issue. However, though the reports of experts brought in by the defendants differ on particulars from those of the plaintiffs’ witnesses, a careful reading leads one to the conclusion that the prisoners have some legitimate gripes about health care and working conditions. For example, John Willard, an expert hired by the state of Texas, summarized THE TEXAS OBSERVER .5 “B advised that when he was a building tender, on his wing there was a writ writer and he had to discourage that inmate from writing so many writs and causing the TDC problems. He advised he did get him in line . . . he had to hit him to convince him that it would be better for everyone concerned not for him to write so many writs.” The FBI