Happy Holidays to all…
This is a submission to Texas Letters and I hope that it helps shining a light that we all seek in such a dark place that is used to inflict CRUEL and UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT and is called SOLITARY CONFINEMENT..
Every unit that we are housed in is different but all are built for the same reason, to keep us in total solitary..Some units are worse than others as to where there is no interaction at all with one another and the only interaction there is, is with the C.O’s..The unit where I am at now, is a unit that was designed along with many others in the early 90’s and were part of the prison boom here in Texas. There’s Alred, Robertson, Telford, Hughes, Michael, Connally, McConnell, Polunksy that are designed as the unit I’m housed at now and each of these units, had a special building built designed especially for Ad Seg/Solitary and each building built to house over 500 offenders at any given time, so, it’s obvious that Texas went into this Prison boom with the intentions of practicing PROLONG and INDEFINITE Solitary confinement and even though there are many of these units half empty or not being used for solitary confinement any longer, they’re not in this state because Texas is doing everything they can to cut dwn on the use of Solitary, in fact, they are in this state because there is no staff as Texas has one of the worse turn over ratios in employment when it comes to C.O’s and basically, they have no choice.
Recently, and as a matter of fact, in 2017, TDCJ (Texas Dept of Criminal Justice) decides to open up a Mental Health Therapeutic Diversion Program on (2) different units, on Michaels and Hughes Units. These programs were suppose to be designed to provide Mental Health Therapy and eventualy help transition as many offenders they could back into the general prison population to cut the amount of offender in solitary dwn.
I’ve been in this Therapy program for nearly 2 yrs and it is worse than a regular unit that houses solitary confinement. I’ve personally been in solitary for 21+ yrs straight and never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d experience worse solitary confinement living conditions than I had seen in the past, until I got at this program and this is a program that should be helping us with Mental Health Illness and it’s only making every single one of us worse because of the lack of therapy and commitment by the administration to actually provide us with the proper mental help. The place is unsanitary, it is overrun by mice, roaches and as I’m writing this submission, I’m looking at my light and there is approx 20 spiders, brown recluses inside the light as they have formed a web that covers the intire inisde of my light. There is no exhaust system in the cells, I can stand infront of my cell around the time that the sun sets, have the light of the sun come inside my cell thru a little spot in my window and I can see thousands if not millions of dust particles, we breathe this all day and every day and God save us if there is a fire somewhere in my the housing areas bc the smoke has nowhere to go except into our cells but the worse part of it, is that there is no therapy that is consiered to be adequate to say that it’s going to help us in any way mentally and there are many offenders taking action by committing suicide or attempting.
Since July 2021 thru Thanksgiving day, there had been 6 successful suicides and one unsuccessful..One of them was on Thanksgiving Day and even tho this is a serious problem, the administration is doing little to nothing about it and therefore, subjecting every single soul at this program to deeper depths of darkness with no light in sight..In dire need of help is an understatement..
Respectfully..Don Aldaco # 847579
Mental Health Therapeutic Diverson Program
2664 fm 2054
Tenn Colony, Tx 75886
Michael Unit, Tennessee Colony, Texas
22 years in solitary / ad seg
December 10, 2021
Words by DON ALDACO
Photography by TEXAS LETTERS