Voices from Solitary: “It Has Zapped Me Of My Personality”

by | October 21, 2012

The following comes from a prisoner held at the French Robertson Unit in Abilene, Texas.  Robertson Unit is a maximum security facility that houses over 2,900 inmates. The prison houses a large number of inmates in Administrative Segregation–long-term solitary confinement units. Similarly to California and other states, Texas segregates prisoners designated as members of certain gangs (referred to as Security Threat Groups). The author of this piece has been incarcerated for two years, entirely spent in the administrative segregation unit. Despite having a non-violent record consisting exclusively of drug related offenses, he is being held in segregation as an STG member due to having been previously designated an STG member when he was first incarcerated in 1997, for another non-violent drug offense.Sal Rodriguez

Let me sum up my experience for you in a sentence: Sensory depriving, concentration-camp style justice with dehumanizing factors on a long term, indefinite schedule, paid for by taxpayers.

I’m here for Security Threat Group purposes, as a “preventive measure” under a blanket policy over gang members. I’ve been in segregation ever since I got off the bus from county. Going on two years now.

This is my second trip through TDCJ [Texas Department of Criminal Justice]. Evidently they used evidence from my first trip down here to confirm me as a STG member. However, they have yet to provide me with and proof or evidence that they used to confirm my associated with so called STG. All my requests for information have been ignored or refused.

There is no need for me to be in segregation. Nothing in my criminal history or prison disciplinary records even remotely reflects a need for solitary housing. Only my association with a certain group of people, nothing on grounds of my actions as an individual. I have a direct need for drug treatment, but am not allowed to attend any classes. All of my felony convictions are related to my addiction. There is no positive stimulation offered here at all. There is no TV, no human contact whatsoever. We are handcuffed everywhere we go. Outside recreation twice a week, one hour per day by ourselves separated by fence from other inmates. We get inside recreation five days a week for one hour, by ourselves.

They offer us very few ways to help ourselves.

They feed us less than population inmates, no fresh fruit, very seldom fresh vegetables, mostly canned. It’s a constant battle just to get cleaning supplies for our cells. We’ve had a hand sized rag dipped in a bucket to clean our whole cell once in the past 2 1/2 months.

Where are the stats to prove that these measures actually work? As far as holding certain gang members back here in segregation for an indefinite amount of time, there are still gangs out there in population. May look good for them, but what about the stress and torture that is being done to the ones back here? I myself can tell for a fact that this cell has taken a toll on me emotionally. It has zapped me of my personality. Where is the justice in this type of treatment?

I’m put in a single cell, fed through a slot, like a ravaging animal. Expected to stare at the walls for 22-23 hours a day while dodging bogus cases, for example: don’t have anything sitting on the floor, don’t have stuff on your desk unless you are using it and don’t cover up the air vent no matter how hot or cold you may be.

So I’m expected to sit in my cell, avoid bogus cases, be ignored, entertain myself with nothing, obey the nonsense rules that are clearly only for harassment and bullying measures and come out a reformed sober individual with respect for authority and the justice system.

I’m treated like an animal for having a drug addiction.


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  • Anonymous

    The words of Sal Rodriguez are true. I will remain anonymous. But I did 11 years in Texas prisons And have worked the kitchen in Administration segregation, and on some occasions, had to help the guards take the food to the inmates in the back. The place is very dreary, low light roach infested and filthy. And as he said, they do feed the inmates in the back less food. Just being in administration segregation for the short time that I had to work there day in and day out. It’s enough to become easily depressed.

  • Brenda

    His story is true, and seriously very sad for a human being to be locked up in that kind of environment. My son was convicted of a charge that he didn’t commit. He’s innocent, but the prosecutors had the advantage and it was a very biased trial from the start, he never had a chance. He was held in ad seg the first 3 weeks he was there and never got a towel, clean clothes, the sheet was on the bed when he got there and it was never changed once. Every day for 3 weeks he asked to at least get a towel and a shower and was never given one. The sink broke in his cell and he was without anything to drink for almost 2 days. They bring them cold food on a plate that is less and worse than other prisoners that gets slid through a slot. When they even remember to take them food at all. He had no visitation while he was in there, and no commissary, no soap, no toilet paper, and the unit is full of roaches and ants. He had any bites all over. He finally got moved to a regular cell and still has a roach infestation. But, with that being said, I don’t believe that anyone, no matter what they did, should have to live for years like that, not even weeks. It’s called inhumane treatment. You treat a dog like that you go to prison. How on earth is it ok to treat a human being like that? It’s bad enough to be locked up in a cell, but to be locked up in a white box and abused, it’s not right, for any reason, for any human being. If that was YOUR family member, your son, your daughter, sister, brother, wife, husband, you wouldn’t be ok with it, I promise you that.

  • Mr. Halsey

    “Where is the justice in this type of treatment?”

    Asks this inmate.


    You are in prison- It is a prison not a fun house.
    If you dont like it stop being a criminal.

  • So what can be done. My son has been there for over 2 years and i see the deterioration more and more, every visit. Every bogus charge indeed is keeping all of us imprisoned. Someone please help. That place is inhumane. What we do to save our family member.

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