McConnell Unit, Beeville, Texas
20 years in solitary / ad seg
November 9, 2023
Words by GUADALUPE CONSTANTE
Photography by TEXAS LETTERS
My name is Guadalupe Constante III and Ive Been in solitary for 20 years. Here in Texas you can be placed in solitary, also known as AD-Seg, for anything. This is something I dont wish on my worst enemy. It is hard to accept being locked in a 9x5 cage, for 24 hours a day, for years on end, with at most 1 hour a day out of your cell to shower, or Recreate alone in a slightly larger cage. for the last few years the one hour a day out of cell time was cut down to 1 hour a week on a good week. As I write this letter we have been offered 1 shower and no Recreation time for the last 12 days, due to “short of staff”... for the last year the “short of staff” excuse has made its way to the kitchen. TDCJ on McConnell Unit has started to pass out “snack meals” in place of a Regular meal. These consist of 1-peanut Butter sandwich, 1-slice of Bolonga sandwich, and every now and then you also get a few Raisins. Nothing else.. No milk or veggies of any kind. I don’t know if general population is treated the same way. No matter what I committed NO offence to be placed in solitary, Im still treated worse than a child molester, Rapist, or Murderer who are housed in general population. I committed NONE of those offences and NEVER an offence to be placed in solitary. I was placed in solitary for associating with gang members. I Recieved a 35 year sentence for agg Robbery (was a passenger during a Robbery with a BB Gun) and when I arrived in TDCJ I was placed directly in ad-seg. Once you get put in seg you can only get Released by making parole, Discharge your entire sentence, snitch on someone, or Renounce the gang, which puts a target on your back. TDCJ knows this because you are made to sign a waiver form if you do chose to Renounce the gang and go to the ONLY program offered to inmates in solitary. The only program offered to STG offenders is the GRAD program. The waiver clearly states that by Renouncing the gang your Life can be placed at Risk. That is the only way to be Released from seg. If you choose to stay in seg you will NOT be offered any education to better yourself, Any physical contact with your family, parole oppurtunitys, job training, or Anything Else. your basically locked in a Box alone 24/7. On some units we were NOT even allowed to call home when a loved one died. Until Recently Ad-seg was not allowed Any phone privaledges. Now with the tablets you can call home if your fortunate enough to have support from individuals and family who send you money to be able to call home. Collect calls on the tablet are ¢.15 per minute. When my uncle passed away I tried to make a call home but was told by the Chaplain! that I cant call home and its my fault for being in ad-seg.. Ever since then I turned my back on EVERYthing church Related in prison. The current Director Hazelwood is an admitted chaplain who use to hate inmates. Now he is coming around and trys to help. But did it Really take a promotion to come around. I dont believe he is sincere and I Refuse to! TRUST TDCJ’s Religious department. So what do inmates in solitary have to look forward to? Even those of use who maintain clean disciplinary Records have no opportunitys at Anything. My family has suffered and gone the extra mile to provide for me my entire time in prison. They are keeping me sane. Ive watched my kids grow up and graduate from highschool, attend college, get married and Now Im a grandfather, all from solitary and with NO (physical) contact with any of them in 20 years. The only contact Ive had in 20 years are the hands of officers putting on handcuffs to escort me from my cell to the shower. you try to hold on to what it felt like to hug your loved ones, but it fades after so many years. Its hard to believe that it was Real. Even Looking at my wife through glass I Remember her hand and how much I Love her, But I cant Remember what she feels like or even a kiss. I try to Remember but I cant. It all seems lost or unreal. I know one day I will be out and its gonna be a strange feeling to be able to hug + kiss my wife, kids, grandkids, and family.. Im gonna keep moving forward and doing what needs to be done, so that I can experience this all again.
Thinking of my family everyday helps me cope and deal with all the bad things I see back here in seg. When it seems like there is nothing good left I just take out my family photos and Remember that there is something good to look forward to.
I just wish that TDCJ would do something to help. Im sure not all TDCJ staff is corrupt, evil, lazy, or Just plain mean. I Believe there are some who want to help, But Right now its just pure evil. It seems like at Every turn TDCJ is putting up Roadblocks and obsticles to success. Our physical mail was taken, you cant touch a photo, or letter handwritten by your family, you cant get a shower daily to feel clean, you cant get a healthy, clean, complete meal, you cant get outside of your cage for 1-hour a day to clear your head, even though video visitation is offered to General population we have to watch our family suffer the travel to visit through glass, your constantly having to go through so much just to get some feeling of normal. The biggest thing that brings me down is seeing so much corruption covered up. I think to myself, “Im being kept from my family and punished in the worst way known for breaking the law, yet look at all these crooks who do it on a daily basis and get away with it. How is it that im suppose to depend on people who break the law on a daily basis?” Is this how bad the world has changed in 20 years. Having to hear about officers beating an inmate into a coma while he was in handcuffs, seeing CO’s assault inmates with pepper spray, listening to Guards tell inmates to kill themselfs, listening to medical escorts tell the nurses that they “are tired and are not going to bring anyone else out,” seeing guards talking over with each other what they are going to write on a use of force Report, seeing them write their answer to a grievance after getting stories straight with the Rank. these are things that Really make it hard on me. as a Result of these kind of things Ive seen guys who Ive lived alongside for 20 years lose hope and kill themselfs, lash out and assault the staff taunting them, and just lose hope. Its hard to have hope when so many around you are losing it faster and faster each day.
To see someone turn to Barking like a dog Everytime someone comes in, or he hears a noise, Really opens your eyes to things you should not even be thinking about.
To watch medical take a friend out of his cell and place his stiff body on a stretcher after he lost hope and killed himself Really starts to get to you.
Its happening more and more lately and I hope that something changes so I dont have to witness anymore of the madness.
Trying to help others and to have others always asking me for help is getting to hard. I Read and study law books for ways to try to help, but when you have TDCJ officals saying that what you witness with your own eyes is not happening. What are we to do? No one will come and check unless its to late, and then they come in looking for ways to cover it up.
Maybe someone will finally ask questions. I dont see TDCJ doing it themselfs. Its gonna take the Federal Government to step in because the system is far to corrupt from top to bottom at the state level.
Im staying strong and I WILL make it home to my family. Im not gonna let this place beat me down to where I Quit and give up. Im sorry for the crime I was involved in back in 1998, but having to endure the torture of 20 years in solitary confinement isnt gonna help anyone. I hope and pray that someone somewhere trys to help people in long term solitary. No one should have to live like this. This place known as solitary turns Many Many countless people insane. Is that the goal? If it is then your succeeding. If you want to help turn peoples lives around to prepare them for success on the outside, then you need to Really take a look at solitary in Texas.
Im not saying that solitary doesnt have its place. Ive seen a lot of CRAZY people who I wouldnt Ever want Released. Pure evil.
But in TDCJ they treat everyone the same.
MOST people in solitary are good people who made a mistake and are trying to stay out of trouble to get back home to family. How long in solitary is to long? 5 years? 10 years? 15 years? 20 years? 25? 30? Forever? Because it happens And is happening in TExas.
If any TDCJ offical is Reading this I ask you to Review All STG offenders, case by case.
The ones without discipline problems should NOT be housed next to mentally ill, or crazy psycos.
If you start there you will see that you WILL start to make a diffence. I dont have the answers for Everything, but If you want to make a possitive change you can start there. The Results will be immediate.
I hope I dont have to witness anymore of the madness and suffering.
Sincerely Guadalupe “Big Jr” Constante III
TDCJ # 01381780
45 years old
20 years solitary.