1. Start looking at results. When prisoners are released and are successful and do not come back, see what is the same amongst them.

Do not just write it as a statistic and stare at it. Act on it. Utilize the information to augment existing and create new programs which utilize the elements which were instrumental in their rehabilitation. For those who come back after re-offending, find the similarities as well, from jobs to religion to numbers of letters written^- everything, If say, there is a high involvement in chapel activities of the most prominent factions, maybe further investigation will reveal that prisoners who seek rewards are seeking to manipulate the status quo to gain favor from chaplaincy officials or if there is a predominance with certain jobs like the kitchen, where historically, prisoners seeking to be able to steal and sell things have flocked to due to the ease with which it occurs there.

2. Start separating us according to our actions.

In Texas, you mix up people with multiple prison disciplinary cases with the people who are trying to live honorably. If someone wants to change, they will on their own and, statistically, it is laws which have been passed which have changed prison management for the better, although all sorts of officials and prisoners try to take credit.  Put like-minded people together and when you find those who truly are trying to change, there will be a positive community where they can experience virtuous norms which will only serve to strengthen their resolve to keep doing things right. As for the others, they will be somewhere together and people who work in prisons will know what they are dealing with, instead of going into a situation blind.

3. Stop paroling people based on the nature of their crime and your gut feelings.

Are you just trying to ensure recidivism? When someone you love is shot or raped, how can you be surprised when your decision to release them has nothing to do with the character they have displayed since the crime? If people are being paid to do a job where they, through their professional expertise and experience, are supposed to ascertain the suitability of a person for society, and they are just looking at crimes and rubber stamping something without honoring the integrity of their person and position, why even have that position in the first place? A 15-year old child who hasn’t even graduated high school would do a better and more honest job.

4. Start firing prison employees who let medical patients die.

They’re are some prison employees who are continually under investigation and have accumulated many grievances for abusing prisoners physically, sexually, mentally, and in every other way, from writing fake cases to destroying property and everything else. People are not lying and these officers and TDCJ employees are the same ones who are orchestrating or allowing all of the corruption in prison management and do little or nothing to stop. You say you want to change people? Does it make sense to rehabilitate people with deep grudges against authority figures by subjecting them to authority figures who they see, day-in and day-out, commit constant acts of corruption?

5. Start hiring prison employees who are qualified.

An outside agency, and not some non-profit organization which is making money when they approve facilities, needs to come in and access the suitability of all TDCJ employees. Realistically, criminal justice and rehabilitation extend beyond filing out some paperwork, false or true, and opening some doors. The aim is to change or contain some of the most violent, manipulative, and dangerous persons in society. Three of the average TDCJ employees could be replaced with two qualified replacements, making one-and-a-half times the pay of the former employees each and do a more effective and efficient job. This is about people’s lives and the stability of society. Isn’t that worth something or do we keep throwing money down the drain to teach people how to be more manipulative?

6. Start a better auditing and accountability system regarding the monitoring of expenditures.

It is not rocket science: if an employee consistently misuses or hides how they are managing any budget or materials entrusted to them, then fire them. Take people out of the picture who are stealing or misusing or squandering tax money and replace them with persons of integrity and ability. If you do not do this, which logic not only necessitates but it’s also a government administrator’s duty to the people, then you are as guilty for the illegal actions of those you leave in power as they are.  Develop an auditing process to track funding from the time it is issued and follow it through as it is siphoned into the general fund. Track all purchases and hold all personnel accountable for their actions. Within a short time, a team of monitors will pay for itself in the funding saved.

7. Stop babying us where you do, especially when we’re kids.

We know what we’re doing and we know how to play up to sympathetic people who keep clinging to the theory that the cruel world beat us into being monsters. Most of us enjoyed our lifestyle and purposely molded ourselves into who we became.

8. Stop this madness of thinking that religion is going to fix us and always trying to throw it at us.

Until prison is re-formed into something besides the manipulation factory that it is, the penitentiary religion scene will mostly be a big game people try to use to get parole or favors from free-world volunteers or cults of other prisoners following them. It’s not that religion is bad, but if we are true to it, we will find it without having to be given incentives too.

9. Stop recording the volunteer activities of prisoners, whether in the chapel or through any other program or department.

True volunteer activities are not done for recognition, they are done out of the compassion of a decent person’s heart!: When prisoners know that parole departments and wardens and the public will find out about their volunteer activities, it attracts those who seek to manipulate others and do things just because they feel it will reflect well upon their parole or help their status in prison. The reward for helping others should be in the act itself. One of the main problems with criminals is they’re selfish. If you get them used to doing selfless things, and it actually becomes a norm for them, you do more to rehabilitate them than most of the feel-good, irrelevant programs which just teach people to jump through hoops and manipulate to get what they want.

10. Stop saying you want to change prison management and not doing anything to do it.

This is not about the people inside, it’s about those affected on the outside who are hurt the most through continued crimes and their tax money being wasted. The current system breeds corruption, it’s no secret, and to fix it, it will have to be reformed from the ground up. But if logic and reliable data is utilized by people with integrity, the process will only make the system, people in it, and public far better off than they were before.

Tracy Lee Kendall (#875004)
Lynaugh Unit (TDCJ)
1098 South Highway 2037
Fort Stockton, TX 79735