TRANSFER FROM ELLIS ONE UNIT TO THE TERRELL UNIT
FROM THE FRYING PAN INTO THE OVEN BY: BOBBY RAY HOPKINS
On November 10th, 1999 I was suddenly moved from the Ellis Unit in Huntsville, Texas to the new Terrell Unit in Livingston, Texas. Although the Terrell Unit is cleaner, newer and with a little bit bigger cells/space that was built in 1993, in my mind and in the experience since I've been locked up, this new Terrell Unit serves the same exact purpose and evil intent that the old Ellis One Unit served and enforced, The Ellis One Unit was built in 1933.
Anyhow, on the early morning of Nov. 10th two guards appeared at my cell. Hopkins, it's time to go. Strip down and give me all your clothes, open your mouth, run your fingers through your hair, lift up your testicles (nuts), bend over and spread your cheeks (ass), etc. Just one last time for them to try and degrade, humiliate and harass me. So, once I put my clothes back on after going through the daily rule ritual which I have to do more than once a day, I have to turn around and back up to the bars and stick my hands out of the bean chute (pan hole where they slide you your food tray. I backed up so my hands could be cuffed behind me. Once I was cuffed, I looked at the eerie what used to be white but now dark brown walls, with drawings of everybody's pain, heartache, misery, who has occupied the cell before me as what seems to be their own way of expressing who they are. I took one last look at a huge skull that was drawn, the last words of a dying man written on the front sheet metal of the cell if he was/is executed. I glanced at the multiple strands of what was described as molecules drawn over most parts of the wall with color added to it to give it flare. The cell that I talk about is a management cell where the whole cell is closed in and could a sane man to insanity within days.
So, on this early and crisp morning I stepped out of 1 row, 20 cell on J-21 and as I walked passed 19 other cells and most of the people who know me are saying goodbye Bobby, take it easy as they hear the guard yell roll 20 cell. As people are yelling my name showing love, respect and some saying "I'll see you when I get there" or "I'll see you down the road", most knowing that we will never see each other again. The guards swiftly take me out of the wing and into the long wide hallway and each has me by the arms. Because I am not the only one leaving this unit, the hallway that will lead me to the back gates and loading platform is full of guards standing their post, some who know me, softly smiling and saying goodbye in a small way and some not even looking at me and being the ass holes they are and will continue to be as long as they are a part of an unjust oppressed system of injustice. After making a quick left turn out of the long hallway, I am now at the back gate. What is so familiar and haunting about this back gate is that it is the same entrance that led me into the bowels or into the confinement of death row in the beginning that was in 1993. To give you a tiny description of my own sometimes pain, agony, despair, neglect and daily inhumane torture, that time in 1993 was the last time I saw natural day light (sun), breathed fresh air and seen further than 10-15 feet in 6 years. I have written to other people before trying to explain to them, telling them that death row is a prison, inside of a prison, inside of a prison as we do not have the same privileges as the other units or regular population does. All of which makes this Terrell Unit more of a device to torture me more efficiently and more quickly. Please, in writing these words to whom ever is reading them, don't get me wrong, there are other fellow inmates who are going through the same exact thing that I am writing about, going through and experiencing. But they have been broken down, given up and will most likely probably never pick up a pen or pencil and write about this. I just refuse to be run over, I refuse to give up. I must and will continue to carry on, not only for me, but for my family, friends and supporters as well. But as I got off track there for a minute, let me take you back to the gates (Back) that I entered in 1993 and the same gates that I am about to exit on November 10th, 1999
Before I go on about what is happening next, I want everyone who is reading this to know that usually and historically, when a person is lead out through these/those same back gates of the prison that I speak about is usually for one main ultimate purpose, or a very rare and uncommon alternative. That rare alternative is for you to be taken back to the county in which you came/come from for some sort of court hearing. The main and ultimate reason or purpose is for you to be taken to the Walls Unit here in downtown Huntsville, Texas (better known to people around the world as "Death City USA") to be taken to the death watch cell, then the Texas death chamber, strapped to a gurney, large epidermic needles (that are usually used to put horses and other live stock to sleep) inserted into your arms and put to death (executed) by what they refer to as a "modern day" form of lethal injection.
As I step out onto the platform of the back gate, I walk into a blanket of gray uniforms (guards), most of them with big cowboy hats on. Sergeants, Luetenants, Captains, Wardens and other individuals that so boldly represent the TDCJ trade and motto. I am ordered to get down on my knees so that my feet can be shackled together. Once they are shackled, I am told that my hand cuffs will be taken off only to be re-hand cuffed in the front so that a chain can be ran from the handcuffs down to the shackles which will put me in a bend position and would now have to be helped to my feet as I hobble on to the waiting bus. So, once on the bus, I have to find a comfortable position and steadily hold on to it as every and any sudden move would cause both the handcuffs and shackles to get tighter and tighter with every move. I look out the window of one of the buses that I am on that has metal all around the windows with tiny holes in the metal, somewhat like an armored car. Anyway, I look out and see 50 or so prison officials, police with guns and badges, etc. standing around tall and proud of their job and duties as they are putting another fellow inmate through the same exact ritual that I have gone through just minutes before. Once all 56 of us are handcuffed and shackled, the busses take off in a caravan of what can be described as good and evil in front, in between and behind the two busses that has what is called Texas' worst individuals. There is a motorcade of escorts and security leading us down the 30 or 40 mile wooded country road to our new destination. At each intersection the State Police has the on-coming and approaching traffic already stopped and blocked off so that we can go right on through without stopping or even slowing down.
Once we are here at the Terrell Unit, there are a party of people (prison officials) anticipating and awaiting our arrival. There are guards in the high towers heavily armed. There are guards at the entrance on horse back as their bloodhound dogs huddle around and wait and hope for a chase or daily work out. Once we get to the entrance to where we will now enter and maybe never exit until freedom or execution calls, the wardens and other officials (who had followed and came with us to this unit) exit their cars, meet and shake hands with the sinisters that run this unit. On stepping off of the bus, handcuffed, chained and shackled, hobbling along because of the way I am tied down, I am led down a hallway by my arms like cattle being taken to the auction and processed to a lady who asks me my name, my number, etc. I am assigned a cell, but before I am taken to the place that I will now have to get used to and call home, I am put in a little room, all the chains are taken off and I am ordered to strip down naked, bend over, etc. I hurriedly put my clothes back on because of the freezing temperatures that is inside of this unit. You must know that this unit is newer than the Ellis Unit and has climate controlled air in which on that day, Nov 10th, they purposely had it turned down cold as it could get to torture us and to this very day, December 4th, the air conditioning is still blowing at a below freezing temperature as it has been in the 50s & 60s outside. The cell that I am put into is like an ice box. Because of the intentional and harsh temperatures that I have been subjected to over the past month or so on this new unit, I have stayed up under the blankets trying to stay warm and have done more slumber (sleeping) in one month than I've done in 6 months altogehter.
To bring this long drawn out story and scenario to an end, this place has only one what appears to be a good advantage. The guards do seem to be more laid back and less troublesome. I know that it's mainly because of the newer design of the system. Everything here is ran mostly by electronic from a pickett and there is a whole lot less contact and communication between the inmate and the officer. As for the ones who are used to and caught up in group recreation, television, conversating with their buddies, playing chess, dominoes or checkers, there is none of that here. It is total solitude and if you talk it echoes out into the distance of the pods. This place is cold, dark, evil and is set up and meant to break the spirits of all of us.
So, I wrote this in hopes that it will (whoever's reading it) a little understanding of what me and others go through. I really need your prayers and if you could give me some support in another kind of way, I need that as well. You can use the address that is provided, but I ask that only serious people write. Being curious about who I am and what I'm going through doesn't help re-act.
Peace & Love
Bobby Ray Hopkins
Bobby Ray Hopkins #999101 Terrell Unit 12-DB-17 12002 F.M. 350 South Livingston, Texas 77351 U.S.A.