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I was very tense, I was bruised one eye was swollen and I was limping from being kicked. \(He was also subject to strict rationing, which has since been forbid”When my dad saw me, he said, ‘Bob, what’s happened to you?’ I could tell that, for one time in my life, my dad felt sorry for me. “My dad went to the warden and said he didn’t like the way I was being treated. The warden looked at me and said, ‘What inmate did this to you?’ “I said, ‘The field major did it before he put me in solitary.’ ” “He said, ‘Well, if what you say is true, we’ll have to do something about it.’ In the meantime, he said, he’d put me back on my block.” Monday morning the field major called Foster into his office and asked, “Foster, what are you running your mouth about?” Foster replied, “Sir, well I don’t like what’s been going on here. I know I messed up on the other farm, but don’t punish me for it the whole time I’m here.” The field major grabbed Foster tightly by his collar. “Don’t you pull a stunt Personal Service Quality Insurance ALICE ANDERSON AGENCY INSURANCE & REAL ESTATE 808A E. 46th, Austin, Texas 459-6577 like that again. What goes on in this farm stays here,” he said. After that, Foster was left alone. When David was released on probation after 45 months in prison, the only thing he took with him was anger. They frisked him and confiscated all but three of his letters. The only training he had received was a class one morning a week at Ferguson, where he claims he learned nothing. At Ramsey he was given some G.E.D. books to study on his own. Psychologically, Foster was on edge. “One thing I didn’t want to hear were orders. I didn’t want to be told anything. I wasn’t used to hearing doors slam. I wasn’t used to a bed or sleeping in a bedroom. The slightest thing got me mad.” But Foster’s father could not tolerate his son’s anger and the beatings began again. Foster had the same trouble finding work as he did when he dropped out of school, but now he was 20. One day, about 10 months after his release, he went to apply for a construction job but was turned down. He decided to spend the afternoon at Austin’s Barton Springs, a place he hadn’t been since he’d been released from jail. That was where, in another stroke of good luck, special education teacher Gracie Raymond* noticed him. When David was picked up by police and charged with the robbery of a neighbor’s house later that afternoon, Raymond was traced as support for his alibi. Raymond drove the route Foster said he’d travelled after he left Barton Springs to verify his innocence for herself. “It would have been impossible for him to rob that house,” she says. “Later I called the woman who had accused David. She admitted that she had never seen him, but she knew all about him. I’m afraid that the fear of having him in the neighborhood motivated her,” she says. Raymond sensed that there was more to Foster than his bruised, overweight, withdrawn features revealed. She befriended him and began to help him look for work. After several months, Foster asked if he could move into her house. Though Raymond was taken by surprise, she consented. She helped him raise his reading level from fifth grade to high school, encouraged him to attend school, and taught him budgeting. After many months, and regressions, Foster lost weight, passed the G.E.D. exam, and began working on a welding degree at Austin Community College. In the past six months, however, Foster has had job difficulties and has dropped out of school. Despite the fact that he recently obtained a new position, his future success is far from certain. D0 THE CONDITIONS that Foster was subject to persist in Texas prisons today? The answer given to that question by recentlyreleased ex-convicts at an Austin halfway house was unanimous in the affirmative. Individual interviews with seven residents, some of whom were identified by the house director as mentally handicapped, recommended separation for all handicapped prisoners from the general prison population. Their reason: extensive abuse. Jamie,* who was released from Cofthat he was punished for not working fast enough. “I was slow to catch on,” he says. He claims that he was kicked and bitten by a field major’s horse and placed in isolation more times than he can count. As for training, he, like Foster, was sent to school four hours each week. He says he learned a little but went mainly for relief from working in the fields. According to some of the ex-inmates, the situation is worse since the Ruiz decree, filed in April 1982. “The wardens and field majors are mad,” said Tom* \(who was released several months used to do any more. Now they pay inmates with cash, cigarettes, or favors to do their dirty work for them.” The halfway house residents spoke of inmates who plant contraband in the cells of prisoners the wardens want to punish. One interviewee explained the situation “You find out who the warden’s boys are and you stay away.” Beatings and murders are also commissioned, they say. If you injure or kill someone while in prison, the halfway house residents explain, charges are rarely filed. Those few who are convicted are given a concurrent sentence, which does not increase their prison term. The amount of educational training that mentally handicapped inmates receive now varies from six to 30 hours per week. The extent of an inmate’s schooling depends in large part on his work abilities and assignment, according to Beaird. Only if the inmate is useless as a worker, he explains, will he be allowed to attend classes rather than work, and then only until useful skills are developed. Board member Whittington takes issue with this policy. “We have a tendency at TDC to feel that the work inmates do is important to the state and the system,” he says. “I don’t think the 10 SEPTEMBER 16, 1983
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