Attention: Criminal Penalties For Smuggling Contraband Take Effect
One of the many state laws which took effect September 1, 2003, makes it a criminal offense to provide an inmate of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice with a cell phone, tobacco or money.
Providing such items of contraband to offenders has long been a violation of agency policy and has been punishable by administrative sanctions which could include termination of visitation privileges or employment. The new law provides for criminal punishment as a third degree felony: a fine not to exceed $10,000 and imprisonment for up to ten years.
While the law permits criminal prosecution of those smuggling these contraband items, the real intent is to deter individuals from ever committing such acts, according to John Moriarty, TDCJ Inspector General.
“Trafficking and trading, and the potential for extortion and undue influence they create, are serious threats to the security of correctional institutions,” said Inspector Moriarity, “and of course cell phones and currency can be useful implements in an escape attempt.”
“Keeping such dangerous contraband out of our institutions is a top priority, and I hope the criminal penalties now associated with such acts would cause anyone to think very carefully before committing such a crime.”
Moriarty added that prior to September 1, 2003, it was already a criminal offense to provide inmates with deadly weapons, illegal drugs, or alcohol; those prohibitions remain in effect.
Although the new state law does provide criminal penalties for smuggling currency to offenders, families and friends may still provide their loved ones with funds by making deposits to an inmate’s trust fund account. The procedures for making deposits to an inmate trust fund account are spelled out in the publication entitled General Information Guide for Families of Offenders, which is available on the TDCJ website.
Whether or not criminal penalties apply, providing an offender with any item of contraband-something an offender is not allowed to possess, or even an allowable item but delivered through an illicit manner – is a serious violation of agency policy and will at the very least subject the violator to administrative sanctions.
Ministering Inside Do’s
We want to be flexible so that God’s Holy Spirit can use you to the greatest possible extent. At the same time there are rules which MUST be observed. Below is a list of Do’s and Don’ts that must be adhered to.
- Do be yourself.
- Do forget about home.
- Do bring your Bible and other teaching materials for the service.
- Do bring driver’s license or picture ID.
- Do talk softly while waiting for the Chaplain or office to escort us.
- Do wear casual clothes.
- Do wear jewelry (wedding ring, necklace, earrings and bracelets).
- Do mingle with the offenders and share with officers and officials.
- Do be especially careful NOT to downgrade or criticize any “religion”.
- Do pray with offenders (when permitted).
- Do let us know, immediately, if you have a family member or relative in the prison’s we visit. By state law you can not volunteer on a unit where you have a relative or happen to be on an offender’s visitation list.
- Do know the officers are there to help you, if in doubt about something ask “what is the proper thing to do”. Be humble in your asking!
- Do offer offender’s encouragement and spiritual uplifting through letters. (You must read and sign off on the D4C Pen Pal rules and regulations before writing.)
- Do be at the door to welcome offenders to the service and when they are returning to their housing areas.
- Do give them the name of our Ministry and address:
Disciples 4 Christ
PO Box 1052
Caddo Mills, TX 75135
Ministering Inside Don’ts
- Do NOT take pictures using the unit as a back drop (this includes selfies). Any pictures of a unit must be pre-approved by the unit warden and Huntsville.
- Do NOT take anything into the prison with you:
• No billfolds/wallets/purses
• No money
• No knives
• No Bible Covers
• No cameras, tape recorders, cell phones or pagers
• No fingernail files
• No tobacco products
- Do NOT “take anything” from an inmate or give anything to an inmate, even a small as a piece of paper. THIS IS A STATE LAW! You can tell them to drop an I-60 to the Chaplain for our address.
- Do Not wear gaudy jewelry or hoop earrings.
- Do Not wear flip flops, shorts, tank tops, wind/jogging suits or T-Shirts. Men must wear collared shirts (polo type shirts). NO SOLID WHITE CLOTHING.
- Do Not get in the way of any prison official assisting inmates.
- Do Not have firearms or hunting knives in your vehicle.
- Do Not borrow offender clothing.
- Do Not run on prison grounds.
- Do Not leave jacket, Bible or any personal belongings lying around unattended.
- Do Not ask about their crime and DO NOT discuss the death penalty.
- Do Not go into restricted areas without permission.
- Do Not enter their cell or sleeping area.
- Do Not be concerned about the number of commitments.
- Do Not argue with an offender or official.
- Do Not go off on your own (stay in 2’s or with the Chaplain, an officer or state official).
- D0 Not contact an offenders family, friends or victim on behalf of the offender. Nor provide family, friend or victim contact information to an offender (such request should be reported to Disciples 4 Christ leadership as soon as possible).