There is a lot of information that makes it into national news. While all those public interest stories on the national news are somewhat compelling, you do not see much news about Texas prisons' terrible conditions. Texas prisons should be making the national news nightly.
Some Texas Prison Facts to Mull Over
It is no secret that Texas is home to one of the largest immigrant populations in the US. Perhaps, Texas's tough stance on crime is just thinly veiled discrimination. One hundred forty-two thousand inmates are living in Texas jails.
Texas has the largest jail population in the country. Texas prisons are not air-conditioned. Yes, you read that right. Only infirmaries (hospitals) and psychiatric units in the Texas prison system are air-conditioned. It is not unusual for the prisons to exceed 100 degrees.
Texas inmates work but are not compensated for their work. In other prison systems around the country, inmates earn wages for their work, but not in Texas. Prison rape incidence is very high in Texas prisons; some estimates say four times the national average.
Inmates in Texas can get an email from family and friends but at a price. They have to pay to receive an email. An e-stamp is charged for the prison to scan and print the email. They cannot respond, but they can receive an email correspondence.
Family and friends can send care packages online, but they can only spend $60 every three months. During the holiday season, they can spend $85 in three months on their loved ones.
Television is available in the 'day room' where 60 plus inmates can gather and watch a show. However, there is no cable television in Texas prisons. There is no vote on what to watch; the guards hold the remote.
National news seemingly ignores the prison problems in Texas. What would be considered cruel and unusual punishment in other states is the norm in Texas. Not having AC should be enough to get national news attention.
Texas is in the top three regarding the number of death row inmates. Currently, there are about 200 inmates on death row.
Is It is One Of the Worst Systems
Texas prisons are one of the worst systems in the country. Texas is tough on crime. A felony can get you a minimum of 6 months in jail with a maximum of two years and up to a $5,000 fine. It can be a tough two years for a lower-level felony.
Hispanics make up 34% of the prison population in Texas, followed by 31% white and 27% black. The rest are 'other.' There has not been a lot of buzz on national news about the reduction in sentencing in Texas that frees non-violent criminals and releases them to ICE authorities to be deported.
This fast-track process supersedes the hope of administrative hearings and deports hundreds if not thousands of people annually. A recent TRAC study found that only 1.5% of cases involving women and children that were at serious risk of situations of returning to their country of origin won the case.
In Texas, the prisons are awful, but they are also being used as a catalyst for deportations. An unpaid traffic violation in Texas can get you looked up and shortly after that deported.
There is a lot of 'nonsense' national news that focuses on getting consumers' attention. For example, a recent story talked about how a trim piece is about $5 to manufacture yet sold at retail for a 5,000% markup. The story relayed that online stores often have lower markups.
However, we cannot be distracted by these stories. We must pay attention to the larger news stories that happen every day in our country.