Another classic autumn day, travelling about 250 miles through some beautiful country “Madison County Texas” but not THE Madison County (Iowa).
Huntsville Texas has many Texan prisons surrounding it and also has a unique Prison Museum which is a must to see, particularly if you are on an Aged Prisoner Study Tour
The Estelle Unit is about 20 Miles from the town of Huntsville, surrounded by woods with the longest entry of all prisons visited so far. Prisoners, dressed in white are seen working, clearing trees, with mounted guards providing supervision.
You know you are in a different world when you park your car at the Estelle Unit.
There is no doubting there is a different approach to security at Estelle than other facilities I have visited.
The Estelle Unit opened in 1984.The Estelle High Security Unit was designed in response to an increase in prison violence in the Texas prison system. Around 1991 Texas Department of Custodial Justice (TDCJ) planned to build a separate facility for elderly inmates. In 1995 the unit received its current name.The Estelle Unit is a part of a large compound, sharing space with the Ellis Unit, which is 3 miles (4.8 km) away from Estelle. As mentioned, the area housing the Ellis and Estelle units is wooded. The Estelle High Security Unit is a self-contained facility north of the main Estelle prison facility. Of interest, but not part of this study, the high security unit is one of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's "super seg" units, which have many administrative segregation cells.
The medical area is staffed by a range of nursing, nursing assistant, medical, mental health and allied health staff and offers a large range of health supports for prisoners of all ages (including older prisoners):· 24/7 emergency care and triage
· Comprehensive outpatient service
· Complete medication management
· Comprehensive therapy support for rehabilitation
· Hospice care
· Significant renal dialysis program (29 chairs, 165 treatments / week)
· Radiological service
· Mental Health Service
· Electronic Health record
There are three main “housing areas" in the Medical Unit that provide health support.
Full dietary management of inmate’s needs is overseen by a dietician, providing various supported diets for renal impairment, diabetic and other specialised diets.
There is no formalised recreation program. Inmates have access to televisions and books.
Transition arrangements for hospice inmates may include transfer to an aged care provider, if one can be found, only if the inmates receive clearance through the corrections process. Most older prisoners do not receive such clearance. Other transitional arrangements are arranged through the parole division and were not observed or fully discussed during this visit. Options for transition into the community were not obvious. There were no known aged care providers who would accept ex prisoners and a review of the parole divisions WWW http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/divisions/parole/parole_huntsville_placement_release_unit.html indicates transition may be into contracted Residential Re-entry Centres (halfway houses). A review of these facilities for Texas http://www.bop.gov/business/RRC_directory.pdf suggests they offer transitional housing options, and or minimal supported housing (see below)· http://www.uss.salvationarmy.org/uss/www_uss_waco.nsf/vw-sublinks/5B270A9C9B76D5D3852574260065F248?openDocument· http://www.voa.org/Get-Help/National-Network-of-Services/Housing/Affordable_Housing_Initiatives/Affordable_Housing_Helps_Rebuild_Lives.html