Page 75


onscience ustin lington does not look like al reformer But, sitting in his office atop the Vaughan Build in downtown Austin, Whining regaled a burning passion for e reform of this state’s prison and a stirring compassion les of that system. ernor Mark White repast Whittington, y a dements appointee, to e T as De artme Harry Whittington Regarding life on the TDC board, Whittington said it was “a very difficult, almost impossible job. Their choices are to get additional funds from the legislature, reduce the size of the prisons, or operate illegally. They have responsibility and personal liability over what happens in the system with no control over who comes in or goes out. . . . Being over there on that powder keg is not a comforting feeling, knowing you’ve got major problems in dealing with human life. Realizing the responsibility you have frightens you. It almost got to be full-time with me. It more or less gobbled me up with involvement I hadn’t planned on “The state’s going downhill in treating our people. With all our resources, I’m embarrassed to say, it’s been going on a number of years . . .. We’ve been proud of how cheaply we’ve been able to do it. The mentally retarded and the mentally ill in there need a lot of attention. I see a pretty bleak forecast for how our public looks on those people. [It’s impossible] knowing you have those people and not going to lengths to help them somewhat. The public doesn’t care about people like that until it’s their own.” Harry Whittington’s insight and compassion will be missed in future deliberations of the TDC board. G.R. arty ‘Whittin Ord for prison 41te four of hite’s new ap .match his work.” . . o Whining viaa a lone conscience that aged to turn the TDC board ;Und on a number of major issues, including the establishment of a separate unit for mentally retarded prisoners. He was also the leading advocate for the hiring of Ray Procurtier as the new director of the TDC.. Nhitlington’s law offices include e room for his law practice and ,;$tjler for his prison work. As a ber of the TDC board, Whit e,g. on found himself spending Of his time on prison work. In the course of this work, this socially-prominent lawyer became a leading advocate for this society’s untouchables. “I think we’ve got a long way to go to get the public oriented to what goes on in our institutions,” maid Whittington a few days after the announcement that he would not be re-appointed to the TDC board. “Maybe we should get young people to work in institutions like prisons, rest homes, to acquaint them with the problems in our society and with problems that occur in their own families. We’re losing a sense of social responsibilt we used to have.” Hershel Meriwether, an aide to White, told the Observer that the governor’s office is studying a number of options for resolving the problems in the state prisons. “There are a lot of different ways in which one can take advantage of private sector involvement,” he said. These include private financing options, lease-back options, and contracting for special projects, Information for Historians, Researchers, Nostalgia Buffs, & Observer Fans Bound Volumes: The 1984 bound issues of The Texas Observer are now ready. In maroon, washable binding, the price is $30. Also available at $30 each are volumes for the years 1963 through 1983. Cumulative Index: The clothbound cumulative edition of The Texas Observer Index covering the years 1954-1970 may be obtained for $20. The 1971-1981 cumulative edition is Back Issues: Issues dated January 10, 1963, to the present are available at $2 each. Earlier issues are out of stock, but photocopies of articles from issues dated December 13, 1954 through December 27, 1962 will be provided at $2 per article. Microfilm: The complete backfile dividual years may be ordered separately. To order, or to obtain additional information regarding the 35mm microfilm editions, please write to Univ. Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106. to the Observer Business Office. Prices include sales tax and postage. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 600 W. 7th ST. AUSTIN 78701 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7