Special Visits for TX Death Row sign now


Petition addressed to:

Senior Warden Massey, Polunsky Unit

Copy to:

Brad Livingston, Executive Director, TDCJ, Huntsville, TX
Nathaniel Quaterman, Director, TDCJ-ID, Austin, TX
Christina Melton Crain, Chair of TBCJ, Austin, TX
The Honorable John Whitmire, Senator and Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee, Austin
David Fathi, Director of the National Prison Project, ACLU National, Washington DC
Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA program to Abolish the Death Penalty
Kenneth Roth, Chair of Human Rights Watch, Washington DC
Sergio Vieira de Milo, Chair of the UN Human Rights Commission, Geneva, Switzerland
Mike Ward, Austin American Statesman, Austin, TX
Maro Robbins, San Antonio Express News, San Antonio, TX
Steve McVickers, Roma Khanna & Rick Casey, Houston Chronicle, Houston, TX

August 15th, 2006

Dear Senior Warden Massey,

We, the undersigned, address you today regarding a recent modification to the special visits rules for death row prisoners at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston restricting those visits to one visit per visitors trip to Texas. We would like to underline the following:

1/ As per TDCJs rule, the number of prisoners and death row prisoners visits is counted and allowed per calendar month, in no way counted by visitors stay in Texas wherever they come from and whatever the duration of their stay.

2/ As per TDCJs visitation rule 6.1, a long distance or overseas visitor is granted a special visit if the visitor has not visited more than once in the past month.

3/ As per TDCJs visitation rule 5.1, Loss of general visitation privileges cannot be imposed as a result of conviction for a disciplinary violation.

4/ A few years ago, one of your predecessors Warden Zeller suspended special visits for level II and III prisoners on death row, although this conflicted with TDCJs rule 5.1 cited above, one could admit that this decision somewhat served some sort of penological purpose to reward well behaved death row prisoners on level I and as some kind of incentive for Level II and III prisoners to behave to benefit from special visits.

However the current decision to further restrict visitation for long distance and overseas visitors serves absolutely no penological purpose whatsoever but demonstrates a clear intent to:

a) Retaliate against those who support death row prisoners, often from the other side of the world. Overseas visitors travel at their own expense and use their yearly vacation to do so and long distance families and friends also travel at a dear cost to visit with their loved ones, this visiting time is precious for all concerned.

b) Further punish those on death row who are already being punished beyond their death sentence by being placed in administrative segragation (while they are not serving a term of penal servitude but are sentenced to die) to cut them further from the outside world. To these men and women, overseas support is the only support available and their only mean to sustain some kind of sanity to counterbalance the outrageous deprivations they are already enduring while waiting for their death.

We urge you to rescind this decision as it is unjustified, counterproductive, cruel and totally unnecessary to maintain order and discipline on death row.

We thank you in advance for your attention on this urgent matter and look forward to a positive reply on your part.

Respectfully yours,

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Alisha SnowBy:
Transport and infrastructureIn:
Petition target:
Warden Massey, Polunsky Unit, Livingston, TX


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