Manufacturing Operations: Textile mill, Garment Production Warehouse, Mechanical Shop
Facility Operations: Unit Maintenance
Additional Operations: Offender Releasing; Discharge/Parole/Mandatory Supervision; Media Center
Medical Capabilities: Ambulatory medical, dental and mental health services
Educational Programs: Literacy (Adult Basic Education/GED), Special Education, CHANGES/Pre-Release, English as a Second Language, Cognitive Intervention Career & Technology Programs: Business Image Management and Multimedia Apprenticeship Programs: Automotive Technician Specialist; cook/Baker; Graphic Designer Lee College Academic/Vocational: Auto Mechanics
Additional Programs/Services: Adult Education Program (upon availability), HIV Peer Education, Project RIO, Reentry Planning, Chaplaincy Services, Community Tours
Community Work Projects: Services provided to city and county agencies and local organizations.
Last edited by Prison Researcher; 09-22-2011 at 05:34 PM.
Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville or Huntsville Unit (HV), nicknamed "Walls Unit," is a Texas state prison located in Huntsville, Texas, United States. The approximately 54.36-acre facility, near Downtown Huntsville, is operated by the Correctional Institutions Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, administered as within Region I. The facility, the oldest Texas state prison, opened in 1849. The unit houses the State of Texas execution chamber. It is the most active execution chamber in the United States, with 423 executions between 1982 and 2008.
The prison's first inmates arrived on October 1, 1849. The unit was named after the City of Huntsville. Originally Huntsville Unit was only for White Texans; the only penalties available to Black Texans were whipping and hanging. During the American Civil War, prisoners at Huntsville produced tents and uniforms for Confederate forces at the prison textile factory. After the American Civil War ended, Huntsville Unit was the only prison in the former Confederate States of America to remain.
Originally women in the Texas Prison System were housed in the Huntsville Unit. Beginning in 1883 women were housed in the Johnson Farm, a privately-owned cotton plantation near Huntsville.
Historically the prison served as the administrative headquarters of the Texas Prison System and the Texas Department of Corrections; the superintendent and the other executive officers worked in the prison, and all of the central offices of the system's departments and all of the permanent records were located in the prison.
In 1974, the prison was the site of an eleven-day siege, one of the longest hostage-taking sieges in United States history. Three armed inmates, (Fred Carrasco, Ignacio Cuevas, and Rudy Dominquez) held several hostages in the education department. The ring leader, Carrasco, had been a porter in the chapel. Cuevas usually worked in the inmate dining hall. Ten hostages were employees of the prison system: two were educators, and one was a guard. Later on, the prison chaplain would also become a hostage. Four prisoners were also held as hostages. On the final day, the inmates tried to escape using chalkboards and hostages as shields. Dominquez was killed in the attempt. Carrasco killed Elizabeth Beseda, then shot himself. Julia Standley was also killed that day. Ignacio Cuevas was executed on May 23, 1991 for her murder.
While the prison is officially the Huntsville Unit, the prison's red brick walls lead to the nickname "Walls Unit". the prison is 160 miles southeast of Dallas.
The Huntsville Unit serves as one of the TDCJ's regional release centers for male prisoners. Most male prisoners are released to be closer to their counties of conviction, approved release counties, and/or residences. Male prisoners who have detainers, are classified as sex offenders, have electronic monitoring imposed by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, and/or have certain special conditions of the Super Intensive supervision Program (SISP) are released from the Huntsville Unit, regardless of their counties of conviction, residences, and/or approved release counties. Rick Thaler, the director of the Correctional Institutions Division, predicted in 2010 that the Huntsville Unit, which serves as the regional release center for Greater Houston, will remain the TDCJ's largest release center. Trhoughout the history of the Texas Prison System 90% of male prisoners were sent to the unit for the final portions of their sentences before being released. Starting in September 2010 the TDCJ instead began to use regional release centers for male prisoners.
The Huntsville Unit is the location of the State of Texas execution chamber. The TDCJ houses male death row inmates in the Polunsky Unit and female death row inmates in the Mountain View Unit.
Between 1819 and 1923 the method of execution was hanging until Texas authorized the use of the electric chair, the use of the electric chair ended the execution of death sentences by counties in Texas. The chair - often euphemistically called "Old Sparky" was constructed by inmates. Between 1924 and 1964, 362 inmates were executed by electrocution. the chair now resides at the Texas Prison Museum, located on Interstate 45 on the north side of Huntsville which features displays of historical items from the prison system, including shanks and other items confiscated from inmates.
Inmates scheduled for execution are brought from death row to the Walls Unit early in the afternoon for their scheduled execution. They are permitted a last meal, and can make a last statement prior to their execution, but the inmate is not required to engage in either. By law executions are scheduled to begin after 6pm Huntsville (Central) time. The inmates are housed until that time about 30 feet from the door of the execution chamber, the Texas Death House is located at the northeast corner of the Walls Unit, just below the #1 picket. There is no law prohibiting multiple executions in a single day, but this has not happened since September 1951.
The execution chamber is a 9-foor by 12-foot room with turquoise walls and gurney. When Jim Wilett was the warden of Huntsville Unit, he added a pillow to the gurney. Two adjacent rooms, which view into the execution room through glass windows, house two groups. One room is reserved for the family or families of the crime victim (s). the other is for the family of the condemned.
Last edited by Prison Researcher; 09-22-2011 at 06:37 PM.