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Sunday, 4 March 2012

This is why TDCJ needs to allow international phone calls by inmates

The best example of a real situation has occurred to illustrate the stupidity and missed opportunity of TDCJ and the Texas Legislature in not permitting inmates to make international calls via the new phone system. Inmates are permitted only to call those on their visitation lists who have a registered USA land-line with the phone company (excluding Hawaii and Alaska). And for those thinking that Skype would circumvent this issue, it wont. You have to provide proof of residency that matches the landline number.

There was a riot at my husband's unit last Thursday.

Normally I wouldn't be too concerned, because it is a big place and often he is nowhere near where the trouble is. I just wait for the letter with the details which usually takes between 10-14 days to get here. But this time, the circumstances are different:

The confrontation happened when the field crew were returning to the chow hall. I currently don't know if my husband has been given his old job back on food service (which would put him in the chow hall when the disturbance occurred) or if he is still assigned to the field squad and had to go out to work (which would put him in the chow hall when the disturbance occurred), or even if he is still not being called to work at all and just went for his lunch as usual (which would put him in the chow hall when the disturbance occurred). So whatever his assignment, the chances are high that he was there.

I've been told there were several officers and inmates involved, an officer has a broken jaw and injured hand (and I'm sad for them that they had to deal with it) and that tear gas / pepper spray was used. The unit was put on temporary lockdown, which was later lifted for all excluding the wing where the field crew are housed.

I am pretty sure that once the lockdown ended, many inmates got on the phones and were telling their loved ones that they were OK. Those whose loved ones live in the USA anyway. My husband doesn't have anyone to call because none of the family over there have a land-line in their name - like so many Americans and a growing number of Europeans. So he can't even call someone and ask them to pass a message on to me that he is OK. He fulfills all the inmate-related requirements for calls, such as not being in Ad Seg.

So I have to wait for around 2 weeks before I hear anything from him, even if he mails something out that very night. How is this fair on me, when others can receive calls? I'm not asking for special treatment, just equity with other friends and family of TDCJ inmates who are no better or worse individuals than I am.


  1. Hi Sylvia!

    Was just curious as to which unit your husband is at. Do hope all is well!

    David Babb
    The Prison Show
    KPFT Houston

  2. get a MagicJack and set it up with a local TX number

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    It is not possible to circumvent the TDCJ phone system rules by using Skype, Magic Jack or any other device that provides a local phone number close to the prison. The rules for the TDCJ phone service are very strict with regards to who can register to use it.

    The rules are available here for anyone who might need them: http://www.texasprisonphone.com/


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