United Voices for Prison and Parole Reform

United Voices for Prison and Parole Reform We are here to provide an open forum to identify and address the significant problems within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
We are here to unite family and friends of Texas prisoners into one voting group that will bring about changes in the prison system.
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It is clear that we must unite to bring about change by becoming one voting body.

Mission: Our ultimate gols is to present not only those challenges we identify, but also to collectively formulate effective solutions and present them to the legislature as a unified voice and a large voting body intent upon fostering these solutions into effect!

08/19/2019

Phones at Kyle correctional facility went down Friday 8-16-2019. They are still working on the problem with the phones today 8-19-2019. Kyle unit said tonight they should be on.

07/10/2019

Thank you to the over 300 people that have liked this page.
Soon, after November 2019, we will have someone posting and answering post with 20 years of insight. We look forward to what happens next.

05/26/2019

Stay focused, and informed!!

01/17/2019

this is an example of my letter to the parole board, & I did hear from them. I hope someone will be helped by it in their process

Date

Regarding: inmates name
#0000 inmates #0
Estelle Unit
Huntsville, TX 77320

Texas Board of Pardons and Parole
1022 Veterans Memorial Parkway, Suite A
Huntsville, TX 77320

Dear Honorable Members of the Parole Board:

I am my name, mother of inmates name & #. He has been in prison for the past 20 years and currently in his 2nd parole review process.

I am writing to you as a request for a phone conversation with you during the time of your consideration of my son’s release. I hope you will find my request to be reasonable and possible.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Your names
Your addresss
Your phone #

10/25/2017

Thank you to everyone that has "like", visited, and posted on this page! Each time I read a comment, see a "like", a request to joint, I am thankful for it. Thank You. We are, truly, all in this together!

Greg D. Potter7 mins · THE PATH TO PAROLEAfter 17-1/2 years in prison, I just went through my first parole review. From...
04/13/2017

Greg D. Potter
7 mins ·
THE PATH TO PAROLE
After 17-1/2 years in prison, I just went through my first parole review. From first interview to the parole boards decision, took 83 days. The process began with the Unit Parole Interview, and that’s where it all went wrong, that’s where I dropped the ball. What upsets me most about this is, after almost 2 full decades in prison, watching 1000’s of prisoners go through this interview, I should not have been blindsided by any part of the parole review process – after all, it’s the same old song and dance. But that is the purpose of this web page and this article, so that not one of us needs to go through something within the system for the first time – even if it’s our first time, through our shared experiences, we will be informed and prepared and never blindsided by the system.
In my defense, everyone I spoke to including my parole attorney’s secretary\office manager (not myself or my family could speak directly to my parole attorney for the last 3 months’ leading up to my parole interview – that’s a whole other article to be written…) to a man everyone said this interview was nothing but a formality, “No big deal” the person conducting the interview is “really nothing but a clerk and has no real authority or say concerning my release”. The parole attorney’s office never once told us (my mother or myself) to be prepared for this Unit Parole Interview in any way, and my family had already prepared a full parole packet full of support letters, letters of secured employment, documents of my educational accomplishment and certificates of completion from a variety of rehabilitative programs that would be sent to the parole attorney and forwarded to the Lead Voter of the parole board. We thought beyond any doubt we were ready and had done all we could and should.
Let me share with you the prepared statement that the “Interviewing Parole Officer” had me sign and date at the conclusion of his interview:
“On today’s date…” When I read this statement, I knew I missed the buss. When I asked other prisoners if they signed this statement during their unit interview, I received a bunch of vague “yea I signed some papers” responses… I could not believe it. Please read that prepared statement again. That is not an interview to be taken lightly, and the “Interviewing Parole Officer” is a heavy title for a CLERK. (although TDCJ loves assigning big titles for little positions) what caught my attention after reading over this statement a few times was, while only 5 sentences in length the phrase “I was given the Opportunity to…” appears 4 times along with the telling phrase of “I have presented my parole release plans” appearing as well.
One thing I’ve learned after being in prison almost 20 years is when “they” (the administration, the system) says something you’ve got to pay attentions, because they mean what they say – and they hope you’re not catching on to the gravity of their words and statements. Responses such as “Yea, I signed some papers” from other prisoners, to It’s just a formality”, from my attorney’s office, plays right into their hand.
I signed a statement saying, “I was given the opportunity… to provide, to discuss, to provide, to present” however, in reality, I did not present or provide anything. I told him about my Associates Degree, and he asked to see “PROOF” of this. I told him about all the certificates in my parole packet outlining the personal initiative I’ve taken toward rehabilitation, and he asked If I had “evidence” of these accomplishment that he could include in my file to be considered by the Parole Release Panel. I had nothing. 17-1\2 years of hard work, staying focused and dedicated to becoming rehabilitated and proving myself worthy of release – was as if it never happened, because I had no “PROFF” no “Evidence” to provide, during this 10-minute interview. Everything was prepared and sitting in a file at my parole attorney’s office, but remember that statement I singed, this interview was my opportunity to “Provide” and “present” physical proof that I could not meet because I did not have my parole packet or any part of it. Everything was at the Attorney’s office. All I had to give that day were promises and assurances of a 2-decade convict, and in their eyes, that’s just not good enough.

04/04/2017

A Mother’s Journey

In 1999 our family’s lives all turned upside down! Parole date seemed a lifetime away, and it was. Over the years, Greg did achieve a lot. The man he is today is truly a mother’s dream, where he is not! I, We, have all learned a lot over the past 18. years. As it turns out parole is a “privilege Not a right”. The Judge and Jury say if all goes well in prison you can parole out after a certain amount of time, but then a parole board says no. When a young man grows up in prison and at 37 with an Associate’s degree and many certificate classes is denied parole – I ask myself who are they letting out? I will add more to this as I can, it still hurts!!

01/30/2017

I have not been on this page often enough lately, but Greg is in parole review for the first time in 18 years, so just holding on!!

10/24/2016
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Publications Page

* Mandatory supervision was created in September of 1977. Prior to that, all prisoners had to be
released, without any supervision whatsoever, when their earned good time plus served flat time
added up to their total sentence. Between 1977 and 1987, all prisoners were still released when
their flat time plus their good time added up to their sentence, but they were subject to
supervision and had to comply with whatever restrictions the Board of Pardons and Paroles
applied to them. For prisoners convicted after September 1, 1987, Texas began denying release
on mandatory supervision to prisoners convicted of 3(g) and certain other offenses. What this
essentially did was nullify any positive effect of good time for these prisoners – they either made
parole or discharged their entire sentences. That nullification was extended to all prisoners after
September 1, 1996, by the creation of Discretionary Mandatory Supervision, which gave the
parole board the right to deny release on mandatory supervision to any prisoner if the board
thought that prisoner posed a “continuing threat” to the public.
(Source: Parole in Texas – Answers to common questions. Published by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and
the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Parole Division, 2012. Accessed at
http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/bpp/publications/publications.html

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Publications page

Life Without Parole
06/04/2016
Life Without Parole

Life Without Parole

Inside the secretive world of parole boards, where your freedom may depend on politics and whim.

12/24/2015

our group page has more!

09/03/2015

This is really something!!!!

Two appointed to Texas parole board
By Mike Ward

Published 4:57 pm, Monday, August 31, 2015

AUSTIN – A former Lubbock County sheriff with 35 years' experience in law enforcement was named Monday as chairman of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, the agency that decides which convicted criminals get early release on supervision from prison sentences and recommends clemency actions to the governor.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced that his appointment of David Gutierrez of Belton to head the seven-member parole board that oversees 12 parole commissioners who decide cases. The appointment of a replacement for longtime chair Rissie Owens of Huntsville had been anticipated for weeks.
Gutierrez, who has served on the parole board since 2009, served as the sheriff in Lubbock for 11 years and was chairman of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and the Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical and Mental Impairments Advisory Board. He is a past president of the Texas Corrections Association and the Texas Jail Association.
Abbott on Monday also appointed Ed Robertson, currently an adviser in the governor's policy and planning office, to the parole board. He previously served as a budget and performance analyst for the Legislative Budget Board and as a budget analyst for the city of Austin.

This is a Game Changer!!

Public Awareness - Corrections Today (PACT)A free conference presented by theTexas Department of Criminal JusticeSaturda...
08/27/2015
Huntsville Tourism and Cultural Services, TX | Official Website

Public Awareness - Corrections Today (PACT)

A free conference presented by the
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Saturday, October 3, 2015
Sam Houston State University
George J. Beto Criminal Justice Center
816 17th Street
Huntsville, Texas

NO EARLY REGISTRATION NECESSARY

The Public Awareness - Corrections Today (PACT), a free public information conference presented by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), is scheduled for Saturday, October 3, 2015, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The PACT Conference, coordinated by the TDCJ Ombudsman Program, will once again be held at the Sam Houston State University (SHSU) George J. Beto Criminal Justice Center in Huntsville. Based on participant reviews from past years, the conference will benefit a wide variety of people, including offenders' family members, the general public, community leaders, jail and prison ministries, and criminal justice volunteers and advocates. There will be a one-hour lunch break. The University Hotel café, CJava, which is located on the second level of the hotel near the Criminal Justice Center, will be open for lunch or conference participants may go to other restaurants in the area.

The conference will open at 8:00 a.m. for registration. Following the general session, there will be featured presentations throughout the day. TDCJ staff will be available to provide brochures, answer questions, and provide helpful information. There will also be an exhibit room dedicated to the GO KIDS initiative and several organizations involved with the initiative will have resource tables with informational material available.

Please visit www.huntsvilletexas.com for additional information about Huntsville, such as lodging, restaurants within walking distance of Sam Houston State University, and other points of interest. Please share this information with others that might be interested in learning more about the TDCJ and its operations.

Make your PACT with the TDCJ!I am going to the PAT confrence Oct 3rd it should be very informative. I will have good stuff to post from it.

I will be there and will post infor from it!

Create an Account - Increase your productivity, customize your experience, and engage in information you care about.

07/27/2015

FOR MORE POSTINGS, PLEASE GO TO THE UNITED VOICES FOR PRISON AND PAROLE REFORM "GROUP" PAGE.

03/14/2015

Austin 3/12/2015 at the Capital Building
Went with TIFA group

To educate on some of our concerns within the Criminal Justice System are.

Representative Tony Tinderholt
District 94 – Tarrant County

Rissie Owens
Texas Board of Pardons & Paroles

Senator Brian Birdwell
District 22 – 11 am appointment

Representative Matt Krause
District 93

Elma Allen

Representative Craig Goldman
District 97

Tony Tinderholt’s office. We spoke with Jake Robinson Tony’s Communication Director on the following major points:

Transparency in the parole process and from the Parole Board

Records are not available to offenders, their attorneys, family members etc… therefore mistakes and errors that would prevent parole cannot be found out or corrected

Length of sentencing

Use of school and work time credit towards ELIGIBILITY for parole

Gave him the major concerns list for the 84th legislature and a picture from our Austin Rally last November

Jake will update Representative Tinderholt on our meeting

Quick impromptu to meeting with Rissie Owens

What can we do to help our loved ones at parole time? Ms. Owens said after the parole file goes to the board, find out who the lead voter is and contact them.

Senator Brian Birdwell, he has worked on the Sunset Review Board

Our appointment with his office was set for 11am. We met with his Policy Analyst Michael Cicerone. He spoke with us in the Hall where there was more room.

We went over all the major points with him.

He will e-mail us with his report on our meeting

We gave him the TIFA paper work and a Rally picture

Representative Matt Krause

We met with his legislative Aide Daniel Moss in his office. He was very welcoming and offered us soda’s etc… He also made mention to the fact that prisoners made the furniture, boots on his feet, etc… and the system is financially self-supportive.

We went over all the major points with him.

He will see about getting the work and school time in as an amendment to the budget this session.

Parole transparency will be looked into and the parole board must use the recommendation they were given already.

We talked about Securus’s video visits and the cost to the family that the units are making money on.

We talked about the reason of “Nature of the Crime” etc... Being an inappropriate parole set of

He mentioned the programs set up in the prison system for rehabilitation and reentry preparedness should be available to all prisoners.

Mr. Moss was very concerned about these issues. He was going directly to his Chief of Staff when we finished. We gave him the TIFA paper work and a rally picture

We will follow up with him in a week

Elma Allen, was not available. Pat left a message “thanking her for her work on our issues”

Representative Craig Goldman, Committee on Elections

He was not in. Pat left her card and some TIFA info. The 2 girls that were in the office said they get letters and calls often from people looking for guidance and help on XYZ in the prison system.

I will be going back to Austin often and reporting back at that time.

Patsy Keifer, Director

02/02/2015

Commentary
Do We Care about Prisoners in Solitary Confinement?
By Nat Hentoff
This article appeared on Cato.org on January 28, 2015.

More than once, the late Supreme Court Justice William Brennan told me: “This nation will not be civilized until it ends the death penalty.”

But how civilized are we now, when, according to extended research by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR):

“Tens of thousands of individuals across the country are detained inside cramped, concrete, windowless cells in a state of near-total solitude for between 22 and 24 hours a day. The cells have a toilet and a shower, and a slot in the door large enough for a guard to slip a food tray through.

“Prisoners in solitary confinement are frequently deprived of telephone calls and contact visits. ‘Recreation’ involves being taken, often in handcuffs and shackles, to another solitary cell where prisoners can pace alone for an hour before being returned to their cell” (“Torture: The Use of Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons,” ccrjustice.org).

Says Luis Esquivel, a prisoner plaintiff in a CCR lawsuit: “I feel dead. It’s been 13 years since I have shaken someone’s hand, and I feel I’ll forget the feel of human contact.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights, which I have been referring to in my column for years, continues: “Researchers have demonstrated that prolonged solitary confinement causes a persistent and heightened state of anxiety and nervousness, headaches, insomnia, lethargy or chronic tiredness, nightmares, heart palpitations, and fear of impending nervous breakdowns.

“Other documented effects include obsessive ruminations, confused thought processes, an oversensitivity to stimuli, irrational anger, social withdrawal, hallucinations, violent fantasies, emotional flatness, mood swings, chronic depression, feelings of overall deterioration, as well as suicidal intention.”

Forget about the death penalty for a moment. Is this civilized, legal punishment in these United States?

I will be surprised if a candidate for the presidency or any public office in 2016 brings up the issue of solitary confinement while campaigning.

So, in the meantime, let’s look into what the New York state prison system is doing to humanize solitary confinement.

In a 2014 New York Times lead editorial, we learn that corrections officials have at least agreed “to new guidelines for the maximum length prisoners may be placed in solitary” (“New York Rethinks Solitary Confinement,” Feb. 20, 2014).

And dig this for what should be a national standard: “The state will also curb the use of solitary for the most vulnerable groups of inmates.

“Those younger than 18 will receive at least five hours of exercise and other programming outside their cell five days a week, making New York the largest prison system yet to end the most extreme form of isolation for juveniles.”

Moreover, “solitary confinement will be presumptively prohibited for pregnant women, and inmates with developmental disabilities will be held there for no more than 30 days.”

There have also been changes in the ways New York City jails its people that were truly unexpected. These are worthy of consideration elsewhere in this land of the free and home of the brave:

“In January (2014), jail officials announced that they had stopped sending mentally ill inmates to solitary, where they spent an average of nearly eight weeks. Those inmates are now being diverted to psychiatric treatment in jail.”

The Times editorial continues with news that may not surprise you if you’ve ever given this any thought:

“A study published Feb. 12 (2014) in The American Journal of Public Health found that New York City jail inmates placed in solitary confinement were nearly seven times as likely to harm themselves as those in the general jail population. The effect was most pronounced among juveniles and the severely mentally ill.”

No kidding.

The Times’ next revelation may shame some of us who believe that the United States, for all its faults, is at least more civilized in its official punishments than other nations:

“This (information on solitary confinement) will come as no surprise to most other advanced nations, where solitary confinement is used sparingly, if at all. A 2011 United Nations report called for the banning of the practice in all but extraordinary circumstances, and even then only for a maximum of 15 days.”

At long last, the U.N. is a role model for us!

Furthermore, this may not surprise you: “Prison guards are opposed to the changes, fearing a breakdown in prison order and risk to their own safety.”

However, they should be told that “states like Maine and Mississippi have substantially reduced the use of solitary as punishment without an increase in prison violence.”

One last thing to keep in mind about solitary confinement: “Ninety-five percent of prisoners,” says this Times editorial, which should get a Pulitzer, “eventually return to society, (and) it is crucial that their treatment while in prison give them the best chance possible to succeed on the outside.”

So why on earth don’t we help secure this return?

Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights. He is a member of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the Cato Institute, where he is a senior fellow.

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2405 FM 2135
Cleburne, TX
76031

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This movement will only be as strong as we make it. The changes we bring will only be as strong as each member's individual commitment and contributions. The collective voice of 4,000; 5,000; 6,000+ votes cannot be ignored. We all believe the system is broken. Who will fix it if not us and our families.

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