* Texas Prison Escapees Speak Out
J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles - January 28, 2001
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As Salon [the news source] noted in an article on the seven men who escaped from prison: "The national media reported on every detail of the dramatic 'Texas Seven' prison escape -- except the fugitives' harsh criticism of the state's criminal justice system when they surrendered." <http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2001/01/26/texas_seven/index.html>.
As part of their agreement to surrender, the last two fugitives asked to be given a phone interview on a Texas news program in order to make a statement about conditions in the penal system. If the media even quoted their statement, it was in tiny soundbites. For the record, below you will find the uncut portions of their statement having to do with their grievances. You can find the entire transcript at <http://www.kktv.com/benedek/HomePage/SubTopic/index.html?topicintid=7&subtopicintid=156&contentintid=7711>.
Patrick Murphy: "Basically what I want to say is why men like myself decide to do what we have done here. You probably do but people probably don't realize after 17 years of incarceration that I was actually up for parole when I made the decision to join this escape.
"What forced me to do this was the penal institution and such. The way Texas has things set up is that I've said my life on the outside, I'd eventually become an outlaw again anyway because of parole stipulations and such.
"We, I felt by trying to make this statement maybe we could make more people aware that there is a definite wrong within the penal system of the state of Texas and that we would hope that maybe what we're doing here could open the eyes of the people."
Donald Newbury: "Well, the way I see it I had to make a statement. The judicial system in the state of Texas has really gone to the pits. We're receiving 99 years for a robbery for $68 and nobody's injured. There's no proof a gun was used in the robbery other than an unreliable witness who picked out several IDs and everything before, who created a statement through information in my files that apparently the prosecutor had given him which is strictly against the law as well.
"We had a Texas Ranger, he admitted in trial that the evidence was tainted yet I received 99 years. The same day I went to trial there was a man who cut another man's nose off during an aggravated robbery of a convenience store and he got 40 years. I don't see how the system is actually working. It's fallen. I don't hold it against the administration or the officers involved in what we're doing.
"I've done crime, you know, you got to face the music. But there's got to be something within reason in the state of Texas. They're giving kids so much time that they will never get to see light again. Their life is gone. Now all they are is a roach in a cage. Things have to be changed, there has to be more rehabilitation in the system down there. You know I couldn't even go to college. (Mimicking other voice) 'Oh, Lord you can't go to college. Come on.' Where's the rehabilitation when you can't even help yourself?
"The whole thing from the beginning, from our self-extraction from the unit, that was done very peacefully as possible. We hurt the officers very little, only the ones that resisted. It could have been a bloodbath. We could have been out of there in 30 minutes instead of 2 1/2 hours. We took time to take these people and do it gently instead of 30 minutes. We're not trying to start a big bum rush but I have a feeling that the fences are fixing to be rushed hard because of the time they're given.
"And even if you do make parole the way that they've got the system set up, it's going to make you fall. I've been told to quit my jobs and stuff like that by parole officers. What kind of system tells you 'Look, you're doing good, you're earning $8 an hour, you just got out of the joint, quit your job.' I don't understand it. The system needs to be checked. It needs to be rebuilt, reconstructed.
"I'm not saying do away with it or nothing else. I'm just saying make something that will work. The Texas system's not working. I had to threaten to beat my attorney up so I get could get another attorney because my first attorney spent three months and hadn't even come talk to me. What kind of judicial system gives you a defense that won't even show up? All right. Hello?
"Pretty much what I got to say is we have a statement to make that the system is as corrupt as we are. You going do something about us, we'll do something about that system, too. It's going to take the public and a lot of screaming and hollering.
"The reason why I'm stepping out of these doors tonight is not from fear because I've been set for the last 40 days to die. I'm stepping out of these doors with the sole purpose of honoring the person I love and to keep my voice in the media. I'm going to start writing,(garble) we're both going to do it. We're going to keep screaming. We're going to try to get something changed. Something's gotta change. They're killing people, not only killing people who did something wrong but they're tearing families apart.
"There's one incident where one guy got parole, he got dressed up to go out and see his mother and stuff out there and they turn around and send him back to his unit. What kind of mental language, cruelty is that? That's the same as a public hanging except you're tearing up families, too."
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