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Frequently Asked Questions

Correctional Institutions Division

STGMO Gang Renouncement and Disassociation (GRAD)

The link provided below includes frequently asked questions and answers regarding Security Threat Groups (prison gangs), which should assist in giving some insight to an offender's family and friends about the dangers of getting involved with a Security Threat Group while incarcerated in TDCJ-CID.

What happens when an offender violates a rule within the prison?

Offenders who violate a written or posted rule are subject to disciplinary sanctions. Sanctions may include extra duty, loss of privileges, loss of class and/or good conduct time, or they may receive a monetary judgment in cases where offenders are found guilty of destroying state property. All disciplinary rules for which an offender may be punished must be in written form, provide adequate notice of the conduct prohibited, and be adequately distributed or posted.

Should I send money to an incarcerated offender?

All essential items such as food, clothing, and hygiene items are provided to offenders. Offenders may purchase additional items from the unit commissary by using funds deposited into the offenders' trust fund accounts. It is recommended that you DO NOT send funds to offenders you do not know. Unfortunately, offenders often establish "pen pal" relationships in order to solicit money from unsuspecting individuals. DO NOT send funds to any offender as a favor for offenders you do know. Any knowledge of extortion or extortion attempts should be reported to the warden or the Office of Inspector General. Any offenders who are involved in extortion, as well as any individuals who assisted in the extortion, shall be prosecuted.

Do offenders in prison have color televisions in their cells?

With a few exceptions due to unit design, offenders do not have televisions in their cells. There are, however, color televisions available for viewing by offenders who earn the privilege. Televisions are usually located in dayrooms where sixty to ninety offenders may watch one set. Seating is generally on metal benches bolted to the floor. Correctional officers are in charge of the remote controls and only the basic networks, sports, and educational channels are permitted. The televisions are purchased with profits from sales in the offender commissaries, which are in-prison stores where snack foods, toiletries, and approved magazines and books may be purchased.

Are prison units air conditioned?

All Texas prisons have a heating system, but only certain units such as the prison hospital and psychiatric units have air conditioning.

How do offenders spend their day?

The day starts with wake-up call at 3:30 a.m. and breakfast is served at 4:30 a.m. Offenders report to their work assignments at 6:00 a.m. Every offender who is physically able has a job in the prison system. Offenders are not paid for their work, but they can earn privileges as a result of good work habits. Offenders also learn job skills that can help them find employment when released from prison.

Most offenders work in prison support jobs, such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, and maintenance. Offenders may also work in the TDCJ Agribusiness, Land & Minerals Department or for Texas Correctional Industries in the prison industries program.

What happens if an offender refuses to work?

Offenders who continue to refuse to work lose their privileges and are placed in "special cell restriction." Special cell restriction means remaining in the cell 24 hours a day, with no trips to the day room, commissary, or recreation yard. Meals are also eaten in the cell, and personal property is taken away while on special cell restriction.

Does Texas have chain gangs?

No, Texas does not use chain gangs. However, offenders working outside the perimeter fence are supervised by armed correctional officers on horseback.

Low risk offenders perform public service projects contributing tax savings to local governments. The service jobs range from cleaning storm damage from creeks and rivers to building homes for Habitat for Humanity. Community service work not only benefits the general citizenry, but also allows offenders to make restitution to the community. Often this work is performed by a low risk offender that meets certain classification requirements. Providing service to the community instills a sense of pride and connects the offender to society which may lead to rehabilitation.

What kind of dress code applies to offenders?

A white cotton pullover shirt tucked in white elastic pants is worn on a daily basis. Shoes must be either TDCJ-issued or purchased from the commissary. Male offenders must be clean shaven and must keep their hair trimmed up the back of their necks and head. Hair must be neatly cut around the ears. Female offenders will not have extreme haircuts.

Are offenders allowed to make telephone calls?

There are two (2) options available for offenders to make telephone calls.

  1. The Offender Telephone System (OTS) allows eligible offenders to make pre-paid telephone calls to friends and family.
  2. Offenders in certain custodies may be allowed one 5-minute collect phone call every 90 days. Calls are monitored and may be made only to approved individuals. These calls are made on the TDCJ owned unit telephones.

For more information concerning OTS or to register, click on the link below.
http://www.tdcj.texas.gov/offender_telephone/index.html

What is the process to request a hardship transfer?

Special consideration for transfer may be made when an offender's family member has medical problems limiting the family member's ability to travel long distances. To apply for this special consideration the family member needs to obtain a letter from the family member's attending physician stating the medical problem(s) and how it impacts the ability to travel. The letter should be verifiable, on the physician's letterhead, and signed by the physician. The physician’s letter should be attached to a written request for hardship transfer and mailed to the TDCJ Classification and Records Department, Attention OCIM, PO Box 99, Huntsville, TX, 77342. Although submitting a request does not guarantee the offender will be moved to a unit closer to the family, you can be assured the agency will give careful consideration to the request.

What if the offender's time calculations are not correct?

Offenders may file a Time Dispute Resolution form if they feel their time has been incorrectly calculated. Questions from the general public pertaining to time calculations may be submitted to the TDCJ Classification and Records Department, P.O. Box 99, Huntsville, TX 77342 or call (936) 437-6231.

How does an offender appeal a disciplinary case he/she received?

As stated in the TDCJ Offender Orientation Handbook, given to each offender upon entry into the prison system, offenders have the right to appeal any disciplinary decision made by the unit. This appeal is done by using the offender grievance procedure and submitted to the warden or unit grievance staff. If the offender is not satisfied with the warden or unit grievance staff's decision, the offender may then file the next level of grievance for appeal purposes. The Counsel Substitute will assist offenders with an appeal if they request assistance. Offenders are encouraged to use informal measures to address concerns at the unit level, where applicable.

What if staff is treating the offender unfairly?

As stated in the TDCJ Offender Orientation Handbook, given to each offender upon entry into the prison system, offenders have the right to file grievances regarding their treatment at the facilities and units. According to policy, offender grievances must first be submitted to the warden or unit grievance staff. If the offender is not satisfied with the warden or unit grievance staff's decision, the offender may then file the next level of grievance, as stated in the TDCJ Offender Orientation Handbook (English or Spanish).