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Majority of TDCJ facilities still under lockdown after one week

Prison bars
Posted at 4:20 PM, Sep 14, 2023

WACO, Texas — More than 100,000 inmates went into lockdown on Sept. 6 after the state said there was an increase in violence. The Texas Department of Criminal justice told 25 News that there were five homicides in one week and all were believed to be drug-related.

The department posted a video to their social media saying they are now cracking down.

"Over the last five years, the volume of illegal drugs entering the TDCJ system has substantially increased. Illegal drugs within our facilities will not be tolerated," Inspector General Cris Love said in the video.

Their sweep has found a number of items so far, including pills, cell phones, and water bottles of k-2.

All visitation has been canceled during this time and the inmates movements have been limited as they continue their search.

Valerie is a Central Texas mother whose son Joseph has been incarcerated in the Wainwright Unit for seven years. She told 25 News she's worried about how this lockdown will impact his physical and mental health.

"They are not allowed to get out of the cell at all for anything," Valerie said.

"They don't go eat in the chow hall. They don't get any day room time. The day room is where they can get cold water, but he tells me they get water once a day twice if they're lucky."

Valerie said she doesn't believe the cells are designed for inmates to be in there 24/7.

"They are 5x9 cells and have two adults in there," Valerie said.

"There's a bed, I'm assuming a bunk bed, then of course the toilet/sink facility. It's all inside a 5x9, so literally, they are crawling over each other."

More than 35 prisons have reopened as of Thursday afternoon, but Valerie said Joseph's unit was not yet one of them. TDCJ said more prisons will reopen once they finish a thorough search of the facility.

The department denied an interview request regarding these conditions, but on social media say they are taking this lockdown very seriously.

"Individuals found smuggling contraband will be arrested," Love said.

"This goes for anyone in or near our facilities — inmates, staff, visitors, volunteers and contractors. You will be caught and prosecuted to the highest extent of the law."