.\\.\\-1 and Associates E co 502 W. 15th Street Austin, Texas 78701 Representing all types of properties in Austin and Central Texas Interesting & unusual property a specialty. 477-3651 REALTOR Display this bumpersticker .. . Our Bill of Rights A ove It And Leave It Alone! Texas Civil Liberties Union . . . and make a public statement against Ronald Rea gan, Jerry Falwell and other Amend the Constitution Freaks. TEXAS CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION 600 W. 7th, Austin, Texas 78701 .11111111111111 halfway houses. Also, Atty. Gen Mark White went along with the Ruiz v. Estelle settlement on medical care. By this ruling TDC will become one of the few prison systems to have American Medical Association certification. But, these types of issues are usually on the back burner. As I have said, this is true especially in the campaign season when voters should be struggling with a rational approach to reducing crime. Politicians are convinced that they cannot be perceived in any way as soft on crime or coddling criminals. If prisoners themselves cannot be believed, TDC is polarized to a very defensive position, and political leaders are always running scared of the problem, then who will speak for the damned? Well, what about the news media? The media have moved 180 degrees in regard to TDC. It was only a few years ago that headlines in Texas newspapers proclaimed TDC as the best prison systimized by TDC’s strong public relations machine, the media created a myth that occasionally was questioned \(as in the demythologized through the recent ruling in Ruiz by Federal Judge William Wayne Justice. His action has been reinforced recently by the mistrial of prisoner Eroy Brown and the 11-1 vote for acquittal in the alleged murder of a prison warden. The media, having been conned over the years, are now making up for lost time. While publicly maintaining an “open door” policy, TDC is reacting by devising a simple stratey of reward your friends and punish your enemies. Friendship is determined by whether the newspe’rson in his or her reporting is perceived as pro-TDC or pro-prisoner. L ately, national and state media have been severely limited in access to TDC, while others are given total admittance. Bruce Jackson, who testified for the state in Ruiz and wrote a pro-TDC article for the Texas Monthly was one of those permitted to interview prisoners on death row. With these interviews he has been able to produce a film and write a book. On the other hand, some reporters are not permitted even to interview particular prisoners. Instead of confronting TDC for its favoritism and coming together to press for a uniform policy, the media are continuing to let themselves be picked off one by one. Finally, we come to the courts, which, as on so many other . social issues in the South, particularly in race relations, have been in the vanguard of the prison and jail reform movement. In the last 15 years the courts have been blowing the whistle on TDC, but it wasn’t until the. Ruiz case that the average Texan realized there were problems. Racial integration, changes in correspondence and religious rules, and other prisoner rights were secured through the courts. Even former Director Beto had to pay almost $40,000 “out of his own pocket” to Mrs. Cruz, her attorney, and her clients by order of the court because of TDC’s treatment of them mentioned earlier. It amuses me that these federal court judges are pictured as outsiders and not in the tradition of Texas thinking, while the other side is automatically considered true Texan. Although I do not give any credence whatsoever to this chauvinistic argument, we all have to deal with it. Federal judges in Texas are appointed from the legal profession in Texas. For example, Judge Justice is from East Texas and in fact was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson of Texas. When I have an occasion to see former Senator Ralph Yarborough at a social function, I always make it a point to thank him for pushing the appointment of Judge Justice. \(I am also proud that both Sen. Yarborough and Judge Justice have their ancestral roots in my home state of Besides Texas and the South producing Judge Justice, the plaintiff prisoners in Ruiz are for the most part Texans, and the other main participants, including most of the attorneys, are originally from Texas. On the other side, while adopting the trappings of Texas, Director Estelle is from California, and former Director Beto is from the midwest. Thus, a case could be made that the Yankee outsiders have screwed things up in TDC and it is taking real Texans to straighten them out. But can we depend on the courts to continue to carry most of the burden in prison reform? I don’t think we can, especially when the executive and legislative branches have ganged up on the judicial branch by planning to give Leon Jaworski’s law firm a couple of million dollars to delay the implementation of prison reform. Perhaps our greatest hope for the immediate future lies in the fact that these two branches are supposed to be under the direct control of us, the people. In an election year we should be questioning the candidates on prison reform. In the end, it is you and I who must speak for the damned. Charles Sullivan is the director of CURE, Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants, an organization working with ex-convicts. “The Miracle of the KILLER BEES” by Robert Heard. Honey Hill Publishing Co., 1022 Bonham Terrace, Austin, Texas 78704, $7.95 plus $1.03 tax and shipping. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19
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