Connally Unit, Kenedy, Texas
23 years in solitary / ad seg
June 28, 2023
Words by DANNY MCDONALD
Photography by TEXAS LETTERS
My name is Danny B. McDonald #768453. I was put in seg in Sept. 1997 for an escape attemp that was suppose to happen that week end. At least an inmate said it was, so because I had previous escapes and escape attemps in the past I was put into AD-Seg. I spent 23 yrs, 10 mo. thier. And really I had no hope that I was ever going to get out. In fact I had been told at my seg hearings that hell would freeze over before I would be let out of seg.
So when they told me I was on the chain no return I was happy to be leaving Coffield where I had been since Dec 1999. This was now on July 5th 2021. I was sent to the Walls unit on the 6th of July and on the 7th July I was told I was going to Ellis unit so I thought I was going to seg thier. But about 11:00am on Ellis they took me to the capt. office and told me I could get out of seg if I would go through a program called C.T.T.P. I was shocked couldn’t hardly talk. They had me sign a paper for the program took me out in the hallway took off all my restraints was pointed in the direction of my wing (B-3-208) & was told to grab my property and go. The officers followed me but for the first time in about 24 yrs I didn’t have any restraints on and an officer holding onto me. I kept stopping and looking back. Everything was going really fast around me. People were looking at me and going all over. I was shocked and scared. Kept thinking it was a set up. Seemed like it took me a long time to get there to B-3-wing and when I got thier people were everywhere. Dayroom, razors, stairs. It freaked me out. I told the officer why I was thier he told me I could go over to my house they were doing an Ins-out on 1 row but he would get my door rolled so I did. My cell was empty and I just put my stuff down sat on the bunk and my emotions just took over all day I stayed thier cleaned up the cell but couldn’t really believe what was happening. The next day I went to the dayroom and was very uncomfortable with the whole thing. Just people all around me talking, yelling touching me really uncomfortable for me. Most of the people that was thier were G5’s & G4’s and only a couple who were getting out of seg but most all of them were young and hadn’t been locked up but a few years. I kept starring at the TVs but I couldn’t really understand them they were all out of sink. Just seemed terrible to me and I couldn’t wait to get back into my cell. Be by myself away from people. Just couldn’t get used to people around me.
After a few days we went to outside rec. That was really a shock. People were everywhere we were right by the fence and only a road between us and the parking lot. I was walking around bare foot just marveling at how good grass felt on my feet. And getting bit by chiggars. My ankles and feet were red from all the scratching but it felt so good to be able to do that. Then I discovered that all I could hear from the cars going past us on this road was the tires crunching the gravel no engine noise. That amazed me. Never believed they could be so quiet. Everything is just so unreal. Like its a dream and you keep waiting to wake up, but you can’t.
I’ve been out of seg for 2 yrs now on July 7th and I’m still amazed by my surroundings. I work in 12 bldg neccessities - passing out clothes to the inmates thier. I go out about 4:00 am its dark out and I get to walk to the other side of the farm 5 days a week. No handcuffs just my coworkers (6) and an officer. Every day it amazed me I get to do this. I can go shower by myself pretty much when I want to and I have the option of going to the day room which I still don’t like. I just don’t like all those people around me. I have a good cellie who did a lot of time in seg too so he understands what its like. Just being able to go to the chow hall and get the food you want on your tray and the amount you get. Its totally different from seg.
I’m 68 yrs old, I’ve was told by medical on Coffield that I’ve got early stages of Parkinsons so that is why my writing is so shaky. I apologize for that. I know it is hard to read. It is very hard to put into proper words just how much different things are now. When I was in seg I lost my Mom & Dad, brothers, sisters, uncles aunts and everyone. And only a few times did I get a phone call (Mom & Dad & Brother) everyone else was told for me in a letter. All the depression I’ve gone through all the times I’ve contemplated suicide given up on life period. But now I’m so scared I’m going to loose my freedom. I make sure I’m always where I’m supposed to be. So I can’t get caught out of place. I worry about that a lot. Don’t want to ever go back to seg. I know I’ve got mental problems but I’m very lucky I didn’t go completely crazy like so many did that I witnessed during my time in seg. Thank you for letting me write this maybe you can use it, but it has helped me just to write it.
Danny B. McDonald