[Pnews] 144 Years for Prison Escapes

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Oct 7 10:44:56 EDT 2013

  Voices from Solitary: 144 Years for Prison Escapes

October 6, 2013 By Voices from Solitary 

/The following comes from widely known, multiple prison escapee Steven 
Jay Russell <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Jay_Russell>, 56, who 
is c/urrently /serving a 140-year sentence/ in administrative 
segregation at the all-solitary Allan B. P/olunsky Unit on Texas death 
row. /Robert Perkinson, author of //Texas Tough//, describes Polunsky as 
"the most lethal [death row] anywhere in the democratic world" and "the 
hardest place to do time in Texas." /Russell, who is the first 
/person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for prison 
escapes,/ has spent the last 17 years in solitary confinement, where he 
will likely remain for the rest of his life.//Russell painstaking 
orchestrated each of his four escapes -- all non-violent, executed 
without a hostage or gun -- //by forging documents which he planted in 
the system, manipulating prison officials and impersonating court system 
officials and doctors. And all four times, he simply walked out of the 
prison doors, embarrassing the Texas prison system in the process. 
//Russell has stated that /he did it all in order to be with his/ lover, 
Phillip Morris, /whom he met in 1995 while both were incarcerated at the 
Harris County Jail./ His////// story is recounted in the movie ///I Love 
You Phillip Morris,/ in which he is played by Jim Carrey. //He can be 
reached by writing: Steven Russell, 00760259, Allan B. Polunsky Unit, 
3872 FM 350 South, Livingston, TX 77351/. /--Lisa Dawson/

    *For more than 17 years, I've lived in a concrete box no larger than
    my late father's closet. Most likely, I will continue to live in
    this concrete box until I'm granted parole or die. Living among
    other offenders in general population will never occur based on the
    opinions of at least 10 Texas Department of Criminal Justice wardens
    who have supervised me since my convictions for theft by
    embezzlement and non-violent escapes. My total term of imprisonment
    is 144 years. No, I have never committed a violent act or ever
    possessed any type of weapons in either my criminal or institutional
    history. I've never damaged state property by digging a tunnel or
    knocking a hole in the wall of my cell. I always walked out the
    front or back door of the jail or prison without taking any
    hostages. So, I am writing this essay from my cell which is located
    in the death row building at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas.
    Death row building? Yes. I share a pod with Texas offenders who are
    sentenced to death.*

Remember George W. Bush? He was the president who told the nation and 
world that the United States of America does not torture our prisoners. 
Did I miss something last week or did I actually hear FBI 
director-designate James Comey admit to Senator Al Franken that 
prisoners at Gitmo were shackled in a standing position for seven days 
at a stretch to deprive them of sleep. TDCJ does things a bit different. 
They have what's called the "Intensive Cell Searches" wherein an inmate 
cell is searched every hour of the day and night subsequent to that 
offender assaulting a guard. This little program goes on for months at a 
time right here on the Polunsky Unit. For those of us who walk out the 
front door, TDCJ has "Intensive Cell Moves." For my first five years of 
solitary confinement in the concrete box, I was required to exchange 
cells with another inmate at least once every 72 hours. With more than 
17 years of Solitary Confinement or Administrative Segregation now done, 
I graduated to cell moves once every two weeks. Why is moving around a 
big deal? Try moving into a different cell behind a mentally ill inmate 
who leaves special little treasures of poop in the cell. I have 
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. That's a great combination with the poop 
left behind.

Have I become a loony tune after so many years of isolation? There are 
times when I question my sanity. I've seen some people in Solitary who 
could not take the isolation and would hang themselves and check out of 
this world. Overdosing on psych medications is another preferred option 
as it is less dramatic. One man took the plastic face off his radio, 
sharpened the plastic on the floor of the cell, and cut the jugular vein 
out of his neck. Altogether, I can recall 13 suicides that have occurred 
during my time in Ad Seg. Others who can't deal with the reality of 
their situation will take a razor blade and cut their arms or chest or 
even their face. Their reasons for doing so can be as simple as a guard 
taking their radio...because they did not possess property papers and 
made the mistake of taking the opportunity to recreate in one of our 
cages in the dayroom. Guards do not like inmates who come out of their 
solitary cells and recreate or shower whenever given the opportunity. 
That involves work, and guards do not like to work. Why don't you shower 
in the cell today. You have a thing with hot water.

Isolation? How about not touching another individual for years or even 
decades? Think a hug is not important to a father and his daughter? What 
are prison officials creating for both the father and daughter? I got 
lucky! I got a big ole hug from my little girl right before the judge 
sentenced me to 99 years for walking out the front door of the Estelle 
Unit in Huntsville. I also got a handshake from a friend who stuck his 
hand out from the food slot of his cell while my handcuffs were in front 
of me. No, neither of these acts were allowed by the folks who run our 
state and prison. It was luck.

In California, it is my understanding that if you murder another inmate, 
you are given a five year sentence in Ad Seg. In Texas, Chris Peoples 
did six years in Seg for killing his cell mate. I'm working on 18 in Ad 
Seg for walking out that front door. We have indeterminate sentences in 
Ad Seg in Texas.

Ad Seg and death sentenced inmates incarcerated at the Polunsky Unit are 
not allowed to discuss their mental health or physical issues with 
either the medical or psychiatric staff without two guards who escort us 
to the visit listening in to everything that is discussed. That includes 
meetings with the prison psychiatrist which is conducted via video 
cameras. In other words, the psychiatrist is not physically in the room. 
Only the guards and inmate who is supposed to be discussing their mental 
health issues in a confidential manner. Can you imagine the 
chilling-effect this policy has on what's not discussed vs. what's 

I believe that long-term (more than 2 years) solitary confinement is 
torture. I set the limit at two years because some inmates have killed 
their cellies. In my opinion, those type (sexual or physically 
assaultive) inmates should always be kept in a general population cell 
by themselves or housed with another equally assaultive inmate as their 
cellie. Keeping them in Ad Seg only makes the situation worse.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/ppnews_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20131007/d6fa505f/attachment.html>

More information about the PPnews mailing list