AUSTIN – Countless guards at the “Estelle Unit” prison are guilty of brutal violence, declares a report released by a nonprofit group, the Prison Justice League. The report documents unprovoked assaults and serious injuries, including missing teeth, fractured skulls, broken bones, ruptured eyes, and prolonged hospitalizations.
The Texas Civil Rights Project announced federal lawsuits on behalf of two victims who were viciously beaten and permanently injured by Estelle Unit guards.
• The first, Otis Talbert, was almost beaten to death in the middle of the night by five guards with a vendetta. They mobbed him, brutally bludgeoning his skull. He was hospitalized and prison doctors advised his family for months to pull the plug, claiming he was brain dead. But five months later he woke up and told his story.
• The second, Larry Hastings, Jr., was viciously assaulted while handcuffed. A guard mercilessly slammed his face into a concrete floor until his right eye ruptured in a spray of blood. Doctors at a nearby hospital were forced to surgically remove the remaining tatters.
“These stories are horrifying but not unique,” said attorney Brian McGiverin. “Prison officials know these things are happening. They could have put a stop to it a long time ago. They've chosen to look the other way.”
“The most disturbing thing we discovered is that guards appear to focus their attacks on blind and disabled inmates,” said Erica Gammill, PJL's director. “Guards punish blind inmates for walking over painted lines they can't see. They push them, shove them, and kick them for fun,” said Gammill.
PJL and TCRP also sued the Texas Department of Criminal Justice late last year to help blind inmates at the Estelle Unit. The lawsuit is pending in a Houston federal court.
by Dave Goldman.