Written by Former TCCO Employee; July 9, 2021
Imagine all the people you speak to every day. Do you call them on the phone? Or maybe you get cards and letters in the mail on special occasions, birthdays, or anniversaries. When you made the phone call to one of your family members, did you ask permission? Did someone tell you if you could begin a relationship with your significant other? Does your aunt or uncle have to explain to someone why they want to be in your life? None of this may apply to you, but this is the reality of the men imprisoned at the Texas Civil Commitment facility in Littlefield, Texas.
The men are subject to asking if they can speak to certain people or if they can have COLLATERAL CONTACTS. These are people their TCCO case manager says they can have contact with either by mail, phone, or visits. A resident must fill out a form and present it to their case manager detailing the relationship to that person before they can have any contact with them…if they get approved. Keep in mind the men at Texas Civil Commitment are FREE men already having completed their prison sentences for their crimes. You and I are free and we do not have to have permission; well at least I didn’t have to before April 14.
Men who have served years of prison sentences locked away behind bars and away from society are now FREE fighting for basic human rights. I addressed these rights in LET FREEDOM RING; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These men are trying to have some resemblance of a life even if they are still “incarcerated” in a treatment program. Rights such as establishing and maintaining relationships with family members. The men are trying to regain liberty. Liberty is defined as 1. The quality or state of being free, a. the power to do as one pleases, b. freedom from physical restraint, c. freedom from arbitrary or despotic control, d. the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges. And lastly but not least, the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. That can be a whole list of things that these men have never seen or had the chance to experience having led very bleak, sad lives. Nowhere in TCCO rules does any of this fit in, nor is it encouraged.
In Resident Jonathan Hitt’s lawsuit he describes how he had begun a relationship with a lady and had come forward to his case manager. As this information was presented to the TCCO higher-ups, he was met with dissatisfaction and accusations, additional rules placed on him, and unjustified cruel treatment, all resulting in violations to his civil rights. The civil rights, basic rights, that all humans are allowed.
By imposing restrictions on who, when, where, and how a resident interacts (with the exception of their victims) Texas Civil Commitment is in direct violation of their civil rights. Phone numbers, addresses, and names are scrutinized. Mail is screened, gone through, refused and sent back. Families are denied contact with their sons, brothers, husbands due to TCCO not finding them suitable. During Covid lockdown I witnessed men go weeks upon weeks without being ALLOWED to use phones to check on loved ones. Men went to the hospital sick and died alone due to these “rules” of not allowing contact. I sat by their side as they were dying, not their families.
TCCO wants to claim all sorts of reasons for restricting communication with the residents. I can only imagine the reasons they are going to give me. It has been over 80 days since I have seen my loved one. I never know if I will hear his voice again. I do not know if we will live the life we dreamed of. He was told I had already picked up and moved on with my life, but nothing is farther from the truth. On April 14 I began my sentence, and TCCO became my enemy. This is far from over.