The William P. Clements Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice houses many men who’ve committed violent crimes.
You’d think their days of violence are over. They’re not, according to a study done by the Texas Tribune. The data are quite alarming.
The Tribune surveyed the state’s prison system and found that of the five most violent prison units, three of them included prisons with psychiatric sections. The Clements Unit, northeast of Amarillo, was one of the “top five” units logging violent crimes inside the walls; it does not contain a psych section.
What are we to make of that?
The Tribune reported this bit of information: “From 2006 to 2012, Clements inmates and officers were involved in about 6,600 violent incidents — those in which an assault was alleged, force was used, a weapon was involved or a disturbance was reported — outpacing all other prisons. On average, there were more than 25 reports for every 100 prisoners each year. In those years, there were 77 allegations of sexual assaults at Clements and 264 incidents in which inmates lobbed bodily fluids. According to the reports, officers used chemical agents to subdue inmates more than 1,500 times, and offenders were found with weapons on 411 occasions.”
The good news — sort of — is that the Clements Unit is not the most violent per capita in the TDCJ network. That dubious honor goes to the John Montford Psychiatric Unit in Lubbock, which houses a psychiatric ward with some of the state’s most violent criminals.
The Tribune reports also that the state figures to see its psych-related prison population grow, which puts added pressure on TDCJ to find ways to house — and treat — these individuals.
Many folks have noted that the state should not merely warehouse prison inmates. The state needs to find new methods of dealing with these individuals, some experts contend.
What’s the answer? Let’s hope the 2015 Legislature — that includes all 181 members in both legislative chambers — takes a long look and careful look at the data provided by the Texas Tribune.
If the state is going to keep reducing the money it spends on critical programs, my guess is that the treatment of prisoners living in state-run lockups will not be among those programs on the chopping block.