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Old 08-17-2019, 09:54 PM
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Default Tennessee Colony-Itís Prisons And Legacy

Here in Texas if you notice, there are certain cities/towns that have a collection of prisons about them. Huntsville has several, the most in fact, if Iím not mistaken. Tennessee Colony has the second most and considering how small of a community it would be without the presence of Beto, Coffield, Michael, Gurney and Powledge (formerly called Beto II), itís apparent when you go there to do time or visit someone that Tennessee Colony has an aura or presence about it thatís a bit different than the rest of Texas. Itís a prison town with a legacy of sorts. There are several generations of correctional officers, prison administrators and people connected in some way with parole or to do with prison operations as vendors, contractors and 3rd party businessmen/women that have been in place for 50 years or more. Coffield opened up in 1965 and itís the oldest of the 5 units. Gurney opened up in 1993 and itís the newest. Iíve done time at Gurney and Michael both. Beto and Coffield have long had bad reputations. Beto is probably the rougher of the two, in my opinion. Why? There has always been a younger crowd at Beto that has remained the same and itís a younger crowd that typically is faced with some serious time to do. Coffield may boast more lifers and bigger sentences over all, but it tends to be an older group of guys doing time there. Coffield also has the biggest general population of any unit in Texas. The Michael Unit has had a bad reputation from time to time, but it didnít seem all that bad when I was there from 2004 2006. The Michael Unit is the porotype for all the maximum security units that were built after the late 1980s. McConnell, Bill Clements, Connally and the Hughes are of the style, if Iím not mistaken.
The Gurney Unit is next to Beto. Michael is next to Coffield. Coffield is also nicknamed the ďglass houseĒ. At one time, Coffield is where all the pork for the prison system was slaughtered and processed. I heard it said that included beef as well, butÖ.I donít know for sure? The pork operation has since been transferred to the Michael Unit where they slaughter and process pork. All the beef that is processed comes from Amarillo at the Box Beef Plant which is situated between Bill Clements and the Neal Unit. At one time, Bill Clements was solely responsible for Box Beef and now itís that way with the Neal Unit. All the hot dogs, bologna, salami and ground hamburger comes from the Box Beef plant, but they donít slaughter. The beef comes in by way of large cardboard boxes or whatís called ďcombosĒ.
The Trinity River runs close by and the landscape is typical of East TexasÖÖ.itís magnificent. Some of the prettiest land, trees and scenery to be found the world over are there where many of your loved ones are doing time. Itís just beautiful. Iíd often think to myself when I worked in the fields while assigned to Gurney how sad it was that the only way I could experience a break from the city by coming to a place that spectacular in appearance was to end up in prison. A lot of skunks, mosquitos, poisonous snakes, bumble ants and fire ants to be seen. If you work in the fields youíll come into contact with them, too.
The summers are brutal. The humidity is beyond bad and without a fan it can be a tough time of it. Itís also a place where fat boys donít benefit from being fat. Itís a place to get lean and stay that way. Some of fiercest correctional officers Iíve ever seen are natives of that part of Texas. If you go to Tennessee Colony with a bad attitude, you better put it in check because you donít want one of the grey suits to put it in check for you. Many of those men and women that hail from Tennessee Colony come from a long line of correctional officers thatÖÖ..they have a way about when dealing with men that are hard headed. Thereís an old saying that there are two kinds of men in prison, those you can talk some sense into and those you have to beat some sense into. The grey suits of Tennessee Colony are masters of both methods. The best of times in prison and the worst of times for me personally were spent there. And thank god I can talk about the place as a former resident instead being a current one.
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Old 08-18-2019, 07:08 AM
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Recently the Michael trusty camp has been shut down, apparently due to lack of staffing. I heard this from friends at the Beto camp in letters recently when they moved a lot of the trustys from Michael over there.

Then I ran into a guard at Whataburger in Tyler last week who works at Michael who told me the same thing. The Michael camp was the camp to be on in recent times with Coffield and Beto as runners up.
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Old 08-18-2019, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by kwik00z28 View Post
Recently the Michael trusty camp has been shut down, apparently due to lack of staffing. I heard this from friends at the Beto camp in letters recently when they moved a lot of the trustys from Michael over there.

Then I ran into a guard at Whataburger in Tyler last week who works at Michael who told me the same thing. The Michael camp was the camp to be on in recent times with Coffield and Beto as runners up.
Staffing is and has been a problem in TDCJ that at one time when the prison boom of the 90s happened, no one ever foresaw. The turnover rate is high. The stress they go through is more than many can handle or really understand in the beginning. I'm surprised to hear that the Michael trustee camp is shut down, but then again.....not really.

The state created a monster that it can't manage or control and while many have come along and made money off of that venture, in many ways it's a broken system. It's better than what it was in the days of building tenders and turn keys prior to the David Ruiz lawsuit that changed everything, but still, we have much to do to correct what is wrong.
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