Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Keepers and the unkept" an interesting read

By Michael Williams, Backgate Website
 
Last week i had the opportunity to read a TDCJ related book that just so happened to have been written by a TDCJ offender. "Keepers and the unkept" by John K. Murray, went way back into TDCJ history as it brought back the times of frequent murders, out of control gangs, and even some shady staff members.


Murray talks about his affiliation with the ABT gang and the power struggles that went on behind the gates. Although some of the statements made in the book have to be taken with a grain of salt, i found it generally interesting and worth the time.


If you want to check it out, follow this link.

36 comments:

  1. I'm always looking for a good book to read, however, I'm not sure I want to purchase a book written by an offender. Should they profit off of their bad habits that got them in prison anyway?

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  2. It's more of a history lesson, and as far as that goes more politicians are crooks then the real crooks and their books are flying off the shelves.

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  3. My how times change...about this time last year murray threatened to "have my people get you in the world" while in SuperSeg at Coffield....id not waste my hard earned $$ on his trash.

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  4. So, did you write him up?

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  5. Nah..he's a lifer and was so low to gripe and do that over some .02 stamps that we had not delivered (I worked commissary)...he got rolled to Polunsky shortly thereafter...

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  6. He's just another piece of chit convict. I won't give him the pleasure of reading his drivel.

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  7. www.westoaksnews.blogspot.com are tired of child molesters.

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  8. Well you keep poking the dog with a stick and he'll eventually bite ya.

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  9. To those that posted anonymously, I understand. I too, will post anonymously, as there are some that will "hound" those that do not agree with what they say. I do not care if you hound me. I care that those people I care about, that also will be subjected to those rantings, and I won't subject them to it. That said, I am going to attempt to answer some of the comments, in an effort to educate those that wish to read the truth. I will take each comment made, in the order in which they were made. Why am I doing this? I am one of those "friends of John Murray". There are things stated in the comments that simply are not true, though those that made those comments, may believe them to be true. You all are free to decide the truth on your own.

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  10. To Jules: The book is factual, i.e. non-fiction. It is not about John's crimes that put him in prison. No mention of why he is in prison, is in the book. He is not profiting from his crimes. It is a book about the corruption he has seen and the retaliation he has both seen and experienced, against those that dared speak the truth. The book has been authenticated by a retired warden from TDCJ, whose career spanned the time period of the book. His record is above reproach, for any that might wish to try to dismiss what he says. There are also CO's that have read the book. Most of them have also authenticated what the book says. For those that disagree, you are free to do so. Be aware, we do have the documentation to verify what is in the book. It would not have been published without that documentation. O.I.G. is aware of the documentation.

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  11. Backgate is correct - it is much more of a history lesson, than anything else. The book is rather tame, compared to what it could have been. There is a possibility that a "part II, might come out.

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  12. To the one that said :
    "My how times change...about this time last year murray threatened to "have my people get you in the world" while in SuperSeg at Coffield....id not waste my hard earned $$ on his trash.",

    You are free to say what you wish. However, be careful with quotes. I AM one of those people in the world. While I was not there and cannot attest to what John actually said or did not say, I do know how John states things. In the time I have known him, which has been several years, he has never asked me to "get at someone". What he has asked me, and others, to do is help him fight false cases and retaliation. That we have done and successfully. Many times, CO's and rank wrote false cases or miss-stated what actually happened in an incident. We were successful in getting them dismissed or reduced because we could prove the information the case was based on was false and/or misleading. The admin in Hunstville, Coffield and Polunsky are aware of those cases and why they were dismissed or reduced. Should anyone feel the need to take that information a step further than this forum, we will be glad to give our documentation to either O.I.G. and/or the Texas Attorneys General, once you make your complaint legal. This comment also answers "So, did you write him up?" Yes, sometimes they did write him up. Again, those write-ups didn't go anywhere because they were false or not factual.

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  13. To the person that worked in the commissary. I guarantee you, if someone out here goes to a store and is shorted on something, they are going to complain. Why should it be any different in prison? No one said the "shortage" was intentional. It happened. However, of course the prisoner is going to complain. That said, I assure you, that is not the reason he was transferred to Polunsky.

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  14. To the one that said "He's just another piece of chit convict. I won't give him the pleasure of reading his drivel."

    You are free to state your opinion. However, it is my opinion that you have had many experiences with convicts that mistreated you, and you have let those experiences color your opinion of every convict. I am sorry you face such things in your job. May I ask a question? I am sure that some in the "free world", have also treated you poorly. Do you then look upon every person as being just like the one that treated you poorly? There are bad convicts and there are bad CO's. That is life. I do hope your future experiences will be such that will enable you to have a better outlook on those whose care you are entrusted with.

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  15. To the one that posted about child molesters. Why you would make that post, in a discussion about John Murray is a mystery. We all detest those that commit that despicable crime. John has never harmed a woman or child in his life and that is most certainly NOT why he is in prison. Your comment should be made in a post that relates to the subject. If you would like to say that John did molest someone, do so in the proper format and we'll legally deal with your accusation.

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  16. To the one that said "Well you keep poking the dog with a stick and he'll eventually bite ya."

    That is a two way street. Those convicts that continually "poke" at CO's, harshly treating them by throwing things on them, assaulting them, cursing them and worse, will eventually be "bitten" by the system. On the other hand, those CO's that continually harass a convict through a variety of means, will also eventually be bitten by the system.

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  17. It is just as wrong for a convict to mistreat and/or retaliate against a CO for simply doing their job, as it is for a CO to intentionally mistreat and/or retaliate against a convict.

    I expect there will be comments, both positive and negative. I look forward to reading them all. Especially the serious ones.

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  18. To the John Murray supporter. I am the one who said he is just another piece of shit convict. My name is Marty Ley. I've worked in the TDCJ for right at 29yrs. I've seen his kind many times. And, I won't give him the satisfaction of reading his one sided book. Convicts such as Murray are very good at manipulating people. He's obviously manipulated you.

    It is what it is. I will sleep well at night knowing I didn't get manipulated by him, and had the guts to post my name. I doubt you will do the same.

    Have a good day,

    Marty Ley

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    1. We all have known people like you (chicken shit) say these things to a person who can defend themself without (SHIT) like you hiding you ass behind a tiny piece of tin and a stick to hit with. Bring your happy ass out to a world that will not let you hide behind the walls and bars then go home feeling like you have really done something special (inmates are there to serve their time not put up with a piece of SHIT LIKE YOU

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  19. They ask me one time if I wanted to be on some ethics committee. I responded by saying if you want to fix this place you need to cut the head off first because this agency stinks from the head down. They refused to send me. This was in 1998. A true story... Seriously, though all things are learned from your supervisors and will continue until some massive restucturing occurs. 2 year cycles don't work. Changing directions every 2 years costs millions and is useless. Pick a road and drive straight then review your progress.

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  20. Mr. Ley,

    I am Greg Wix. I am well known to TDCJ. I congratulate you on your years of service. Had you read the book, you would know it isn't one sided. He praises as well as criticizes but the book does expose corruption within TDCJ. You have seen convicts for 29 years. If you knew John in his early years in prison, I would agree with you. However, he has definitely changed. The way he is today is not the same John Murray he was before 1996. Like I said in a post, it is unfortunate that you seem to have allowed other convicts to mold your opinion of them all. For your information, I didn't support John Murray and his crusade to stop corruption until other CO's and the retired warden verified the contents of his book. So much for my being manipulated Sir, but I understand the resentment of a "Lifer" (respectfully said) like yourself, having the institution they have worked in, called corrupt. Like Julian Campos told me in a phone call, "Mr. Wix, not everyone at TDCJ is corrupt." He is correct. Most are not. However, many are and some are in the higher ranks. Perhaps, Mr. Ley, you are one of those that are not corrupt. I would hope so. Perhaps you can help to change TDCJ into the institution is should be for everyone. Perhaps you can help fix it from the inside. Had they done that on their own, their would have been no need for the book.

    I hope you have a good day also.

    Greg Wix

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  21. Mr. Wix, I despise corruption. And, have participated many times in getting rid of corrupt employee's. You're correct in that I generalized my statements about Offender Murray. I don't know him at all. I treat all offenders the same, firm, fair, and consistent. I would treat Offender Murray no different than I treat any other offender. He is not a celebrity, or worthy of being treated as such. If Offender Murray has changed for the better I congratulate him. That is how it supposed to happen. Offenders are supposed to change for the better. That is one of our mandates in our mission statement.

    I still won't read his book. It's his side of the story. But, if, as you said earlier, you have solid evidence of corruption and criminal wrong doing. And, if you have turned this evidence over to OIG, I would expect to see some indictments in the near future. I'm a firm believer in holding staff accountable. So, I look forward to hearing about the upcoming indictments on the corrupt staff that you have evidence on. Please keep us informed as to when we might read about them.

    BTW, it's nice to put a name to the anonymous postings.

    Thanks,

    Marty Ley

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  22. we are leaving these comments up as everyone is allowed to state their opinions. The Backgate doesn't endorse the book, we posted the link to offer you the choice to judge for yourself however. Was corruption widespread in the 70's and 80's within the agency ? Many past administrators and employees would say yes. Is the author's claims valid ? Who knows. We were forwarded a book from the publishing company to look over. The offenders claims aside, the mere history brought back by the book was worth the read for me personally. I will generally read anything that pertains to TDCJ, no matter what side of the line it comes from. Sometimes you just have to take some of it with a grain of salt and pick out the good parts. Sometimes its fiction with some history thrown in for good measure.

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  23. I read Murray's manuscript before it was published and noted some inconsistencies in dates, however, for the most part, I can attest to the facts in situations I was aware of and had first hand knowledge of. Having said that, I was also aware of Murray's reputation many years ago. I had read many of his letters to gang members I had on the Retrieve unit back in the mid 80s. I am also aware that he denounced the ABT back then and assisted Sammy Buentello. Buentello passed along that information to me in battling gangs and avoiding more violence in our prisons.

    Murray made a few attempts at escaping, the last time in 1996 at the Telford unit when Rick Thaler, the current ID director, was the warden. Murray went to super seg and has been there ever since, disciplinary free save a couple of minor cases. Murray has never been assualtive to staff, not even so much as cursing at an employee.

    Those who know me as an officer through assistant warden also know that I was always firm but fair with inmates. I can never be accused of being a softie. Few of you were around then and have no idea the turbulent times we went through, staff and inmates alike. Murray has no special place in history. He has educated himself and created inventions that are now on the market. Well, bully for him. He's written a book and that pisses some people off, particularly Rick Thaler. Thaler should be the bigger man and take his foot off Murray's neck. No one is suggesting the guy didn't deserve to go to lock up, but there comes a point in time that you use some common sense in this business. While countless assholes have been released from lock up for far worse institutional behavior, like murdering fellow inmates for the sake of the gang, escapes, severe staff and inmate assaults, etc., we have here a situation that begs the question, "When is enough, enough?"

    The attitudes of too many officers today would not have been tolerated back in the day. If you like fucking with convicts, you're in the wrong business and I bet you a dollar to a donut, you're going to get burned if you don't get your fellow officers hurt as well. Corner a dog and kick it over and over and see what happens.

    Terry Pelz

    Texas Justice Dot Org

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  24. Terry, I too am aware of Murray's past. And, like I said earlier, if he's turned a new leaf and is behaving better that's a good thing. That's part of our mission statement, promoting positive behavior in offenders. Good for him. You've known me long enough to know I'm firm, fair and consistent with inmates, and always have been. I wouldn't have lasted this long if I hadn't been. So, with that said, I doubt I'd read the book even if he was a model inmate. I've always believed that the actions of a person place them in whatever position they have in life. And, if he is doing time in super seg, it's a direct result of his own actions. He'll have to live with that for however long he's there. And, he'll have to decide how he's going to act the rest of his life, no matter where he is housed. I'm sorry bossman. I just don't feel like this inmate, or any other inmate deserves all this attention with a book, or anything else. He's proven himself to be an escape risk. And, it's my belief that once you got an inmate with rabbit blood in him, it don't go away. He'll always have rabbit blood in him. He'll always be an escape risk. So, from my view point, super seg is an appropriate housing area for him.

    That's my view anyhow.

    Marty Ley

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  25. Hello Mr. Ley,

    I'm glad to know you seem to be cut from the same cloth as Terry. No, John is no celebrity. Not even we, as his supporters, will call him that. Yes, he is where he is because of his own actions (prison). However, like Terry said, "When is enough - enough?" Those with far worse records are now free, yet he remains. Why? Though I disagree that once someone exhibits "rabbit blood", they will always have it in their system, I understand why you must feel that way. I don't have years of dealing with convicts as you and Terry do. My only experience is dealing with ED students and gang members in public schools. That's a far cry from those you deal with. As I said, I respect anyone that stayed with TDCJ as long as you have. Firm but fair is the only way to deal with them, regardless of who they may be. My support of John Murray is due to his being in Super Seg for 14.5 years at Coffield, and now Ad Seg at Polunsky since March 30th, MAJOR CASE free, DESPITE what has been thrown at him by employees of TDCJ. I won't name names here. We have beaten several false cases written by those individuals. As I stated, I've spoken with Mr. Campos regarding one. You have a lot more faith in O.I.G. than I do. We presented them with specific situations and they have done next to nothing with them. Retaliation against John several times, being part of what was sent. The retaliation is clear. It isn't only we that see it. Perhaps one day soon, you will see action that validates not only John's claims, but now ours as well. TDCJ can be a great institution. We want to restore that and, right now, there are individuals that seems to be using it as their own little fiefdoms, regardless of the rules. There is no "firm but fair" in their treatment.

    Were there but more like you seem to be, and Terry, this situation with John Murray would not exist. By the way, the only reason John wrote the book was because TDCJ would not respond to what he presented them with. They ignored it, thus he wrote the book.

    Again, thank your for your service.

    Greg Wix

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  26. Marty, convicting is a lost art that got buried with us dinosaurs. I'm just one who believes in fundamental fairness, even with convicts. Every convict has potential rabbit, and that should be the mindset. Even so, we should know when it's time to let someone up for air. Any less understanding of the subculture makes one ineffective in their job. I just don't happen to have ice in my veins. Maybe I'm just getting too old. :)

    I appreciate your position.

    TP

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  27. ha ha, I hear ya Terry. You're not getting too old. I've actually had a few younger employee's try to correct me when I use the term "convict". They have no clue what convicting even means. I don't disagree with fundamental fairness. In fact, I believe in being fair. And, I agree with you that EVERY convict has the potential to rabbit on you. The problem is, some convicts act on that potential and prove they got rabbit in them. In this case, Murray has done it several times. I guess the question comes in then as to how long is too long to be held in super seg. I don't have that answer. It's above my pay grade. So, I have to look at the situation on it's face value. What do we have?
    1. A long time inmate who has attempted escape several times.
    2. An ex gang member.
    3. An inmate making allegations of corruption and wrong doing against staff.
    4. Thus far, no indictments against the staff the allegations were made on.
    5. The inmate is mostly case free.

    Would I let an inmate like the one above out of seg? Based on the several escape attempts alone I would be reluctant to let him out of seg. But, again, that's a question above my pay grade. And, I typically error on the safe side whenever possible. And, in my mind, it's safer to have a proven escape risk in seg.

    I do appreciate your viewpoint though. And, were I a supervisor on your unit, and you let him up out of seg, I'd sure treat him just like any other gp convict. And, I'd respect your decision to let him up. We'd rock on taking care of business. ;-)

    Marty Ley

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  28. Yeah, I had those same qualms when Buentello sent those inmate murdering x-gang members to me on Jester III to watch over in general population. Why me? :)

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  29. I’ve read what everyone has said, concerning inmate John Murray, I’ve also read John’s book.
    Mr. Ley, you stated you believe in being firm and fair with convicts. There are inmates that have raped murdered and escaped who are now paroled. John has never raped, murdered anyone, nor has he harmed anyone when attempted escape, in fact he has saved officers lives. In his gang years, he helped TDCJ stop gang murders. He also helped to stop corrupt TDCJ employees, he has received commendation for the same. I am not saying he is a saint, but as you and Terry know there are others with far worse records than John. Does it not make you think or wonder why TDCJ has their feet on his neck like Terry has said? Those who have been paroled who not only have far worse records, but they never helped TDCJ in anyway. Why then is John still in ad seg? Doesn’t that make you question the fairness you’ve talked about? You want to know why John has written the book, that’s part of it.

    The ES designation he has, is still there after 15 years of no attempt, I know what you are thinking he’s been in ad seg, well sir others have attempted and some did escape while housed in super seg. Looking at that fairness again, like Terry said “when is enough, enough.” Where is that fairness you spoke of? The point is John has been retaliated against because he has pissed off rank and above. That is there for anyone who wants to open their eyes. As a documented informant because he helped to save lives of enemy gang members, why is he now being housed among the VERY gang members whose hit list he is on? Could it be retaliation? Is that the new definition of fairness in TDCJ? As you say you hate corruption here’s your chance to do something to stop it.

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  30. To the anonymous poster above, challenging me will get you nowhere. I don't spook easy hoss. You obviously are on the John Murray band wagon. Good for you. Sounds like you need a cause in your life to fight for. Fight on. I, on the other hand, am NOT on the John Murray band wagon. And, like I said earlier, I look at the situation from an objective point of view, and on face value. He gets no sympathy from me. That may sound cold hearted to you. I guess that's how it'll have to be. We each have our perceptions of one another. And, quite frankly your perception of me does not concern me.

    My suggestion to you would be to take whatever evidence you say you have of corruption and criminal acts, and take it to OIG. They are the law enforcement entity with jurisdiction in this case. Confronting me, and challenging me will get you nowhere. Good luck.

    Marty Ley

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  31. And to think that all this talking about Johnny Murray and nobody even said "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" to him. September 13, 1953. WISHING YOU MANY MANY MORE!

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    1. The birth date is wrong, close but wrong...

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  32. My mistake September 14, 1953

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  33. Does anyone here know how to contact Greg Wix? I am interested in finding two of Murray's other books, which I believe are in Wix's possession at this time.

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