University of North Texas Press

Crime and Criminal Justice Series

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Crime and Criminal Justice Series

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Behind the Walls

A Guide for Families and Friends of Texas Prison Inmates

Jorge Antonio Renaud

Texas holds one in every nine U.S. inmates. Behind the Walls is a detailed description of one of the world's largest prison systems by a long-time convict trained as an observer and reporter. It spotlights the day-to-day workings of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-what's good, what's bad, which programs work and which ones do not, and examines if practice really follows official policy. Written to inform about the processes, services, activities, issues, and problems of being incarcerated, this book is invaluable to anyone who has a relative or friend incarcerated in Texas, or for those who want to understand how prisoners live, eat, work, play, and die in a contemporary U.S. prison. Containing a short history of Texas prisons and advice on how to help inmates get out and stay out of prison, this book is the only one of its kind-written by a convict still incarcerated and dedicated to dispelling the ignorance and fear that shroud Texas prisons. Renaud discusses living quarters, food, and clothing, along with how prisoners handle money, mail, visits, and phone calls. He explores the issues of drugs, racism, gangs, and violence as well as what an inmate can learn about his parole, custody levels, and how to handle emergencies. What opportunities are available for education? What is the official policy for discipline? What is a lockdown? These questions and many others are answered in this one-of-a-kind guide.

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Eleven Days in Hell

The 1974 Carrasco Prison Siege at Huntsville, Texas

William T. Harper

From one o’clock on the afternoon of July 24, 1974, until shortly before ten o’clock the night of August 3, eleven days later, one of the longest hostage-taking sieges in the history of the United States took place in Texas’s Huntsville State Prison. The ringleader, Federico (Fred) Gomez Carrasco, the former boss of the largest drug-running operation in south Texas, was serving life for assault with intent to commit murder on a police officer. Using his connections to smuggle guns and ammunition into the prison, and employing the aid of two other inmates, he took eleven prison workers and four inmates hostage in the prison library. Demanding bulletproof helmets and vests, he planned to use the hostages as shields for his escape. Negotiations began immediately with prison warden H. H. Husbands and W. J. Estelle, Jr., Director of the Texas Department of Corrections. The Texas Rangers, the Department of Public Safety, and the FBI arrived to assist as the media descended on Huntsville. When one of the hostages suggested a moving structure of chalkboards padded with law books to absorb bullets, Carrasco agreed to the plan. The captors entered their escape pod with four hostages and secured eight others to the moving barricade. While the target was en route to an armored car, Estelle had his team blast it with fire hoses. In a violent end to the standoff, Carrasco committed suicide, one of his two accomplices was killed (the other later executed), and two hostages were killed by their captors.

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Intermediate Sanctions in Corrections

Gail Caputo

The field of corrections comprises three distinct areas of study: institutional corrections (jails and prisons), community corrections (probation and parole), and intermediate sanctions (community service, boot camps, intensive supervision programs, home confinement and electronic monitoring, halfway houses, day reporting, fines, and restitution). Intermediate Sanctions in Corrections is the first non-edited book devoted completely to intermediate sanctions systems and their individual programs. It begins with an overview of the background and foundation of intermediate sanctions programs and then describes in clear detail each program and its effectiveness. Caputo supports every point with thorough and up-to-date research. Jon’a Meyer, an expert on this field, contributes a chapter on home confinement. Aimed at students, scholars, and policymakers, Intermediate Sanctions in Corrections will be used in the many undergraduate criminal justice courses devoted to corrections and intermediate sanctions.

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Walking George

The Life of George John Beto and the Rise of the Modern Texas Prison System

David M. Horton and George R. Nielsen

George John Beto (1916-1991) is best known for his contributions to criminal justice, but his fame is not limited to this field. Walking George , authored by two of his former students, David M. Horton and George R. Nielsen, examines the entire life of Beto and his many achievements in the fields of both education and criminal justice—and how he wedded the two whenever possible. Beto initially studied to become a Lutheran pastor but instead was called to teach at Concordia Lutheran College in Austin, Texas. During his twenty years at that institution he became its president, expanded it into a junior college, racially integrated it, made it co-educational, and expanded its facilities. His successes convinced the administrators of the church to present him with a challenge to revitalize a seminary in Springfield, Illinois. He accepted the challenge in 1959, but after three years of progress, he left the seminary to become the head of the Texas Department of Corrections. Although Beto had no real academic training in corrections and had never served in any administrative position in corrections, he had learned incidentally. During his last six years in Austin, he had served on the Texas Prison Board, a volunteer board that supervised the entire prison system. As a board member he established one of the earliest General Education Development testing programs for prisoners. Fortuitously, his years on the board came during the time when reform of the Texas prisons was the watchword. During his ten-year term as the director of the Texas Department of Corrections, Beto continued the reform program. Most notable were his efforts at rehabilitation of the inmates and his attempt at refining a method of managing prisoners, called the Texas Control Model. He persuaded the Texas state legislature to enact a law requiring state agencies to purchase manufactured goods from state prisons, which tremendously expanded industry and training for inmates. In 1969, at Beto’s urging, the Windham school district for educating inmates became a reality, the first of its kind at any prison in the United States. Beto’s predilection to show up on foot in front of a given Texas prison, at all hours of the day and night, ready for an inspection and tour, earned him the nickname “Walking George.” After retiring as head of the Texas prison system in 1972, he became a professor at Sam Houston State University's College of Criminal Justice until 1991. His leadership and participation propelled it to become the most esteemed program in the country. Beto’s personal force and unique accomplishments defined him as one of the premier American penologists of the twentieth century. This is the first in-depth biography of the man and his contributions.

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Worse Than Death

The Dallas Nightclub Murders and the Texas Multiple Murder Law

Gary M. Lavergne

In 1984, a Moroccan national named Abdelkrim Belachheb walked into Iannis Restaurant, a trendy Dallas nightclub, and gunned down seven people. Six died. Despite the fact that the crimes occurred in a state that prides itself on being tough on criminals, the death penalty was not an option for the Belachheb jury. Even though he had committed six murders, and his guilt was never in question (despite his insanity defense), his crimes were not capital murders under 1984 statutes. As a direct result of this crime, during the 1985 regular session the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 8--the “multiple murder” statute--to make serial killing and mass murder capital crimes. Belachheb’s case serves as an excellent example to explore capital punishment and the insanity defense. Furthermore, Belachheb’s easy entry into the United States (despite his violent record in Europe) highlights our contemporary fear over lax immigration screening and subsequent terrorism. The case is unique in that debate usually arises from an execution. Belachheb was given life imprisonment and is currently under maximum security--a fate some would argue is “worse than death.” He is scheduled to have his first parole hearing in 2004, the twentieth anniversary of his crime. “This is a superbly written book about an extraordinary case whose significance ranged from influencing death penalty legislation to directly foreshadowing the types of security lapses that led to September 11th. It is among the best I have read in its genre.”--Bob Brown, ABC news correspondent for 20/20

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