Beto II Unit trol or ability to encourage quality performance from guards, because they’re so hard to replace if they quit. So short of an actual incident involving a criminal charge against a guard, the warden will try to avoid a dismissal. Many guards become involved in gang activity in prisons. Guards are bringing in all kinds of contraband that they sell at a profitable gain. Tobacco was removed from the Texas prisons a number of years ago, but it is still here. It has only become a major black-market item that is the Texas alternative to a pay raise. One cigarette sells for a dollar, and I am talking a hand-rolled, little cigarette. A pack of Bugler tobacco sells for $30. Guards are involved in bringing this in, as well as every other form of contraband you could imagine, from marijuana to cocaine and heroin. The level of corruption is obvious and widespread, and this awareness is a factor in the attitude of the inmates who rebel and resort to their own forms of corruption. I continue to sit in my little cell wondering when things might get better. I have little to hope for or look forward to. I can only believe that some day, things will get better for me, and that is all I have to live for, it seems. I am not sure if things will, though. I try not to give up. Change is going to come, that is what we hear. They might start selling us TVs in the prison commissary soon. But these rumors are only another way to string us all along and toy with our minds. It is a way to remind us of what we could have, or should have, but can never really hope to have here in Texas. They learn to use mental torture as effectively as they use physical pain on the captives they keep in the grottos of their old Texas prisons. Sid Hawk Byrd is confined in the Coffield Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, serving a life sentence for aggravated assault on a public servant and unlawful possession of a firearm. Jason Clark, a spokesman for TDCJ, confirms that Byrd has been in segregation since May 2003, sent there because of repeated escape attempts. Clark did not know if Byrd had been placed in segregation previously, and how much total time Byrd has spent in isolation. Clark said it is conceivable that inmates could spend up to 20 years in isolation if they fall into one of the categories for which isolation is usedgang members, security risks, or inmates who pose a threat to a guard or another inmate. Clark also confirmed that an inmate named Jason Rabago committed suicide in Byrd’s unit in February 2007. Clark confirmed some of the conditions in segregation described by Byrd, including that guards wear Kevlar vests and that guard extraction teams use teargas and Mace before entering cells to remove inmates. NOVEMBER 16; 2007 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17
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