From Cells to Society
In the 1960s, the desire for prison reform in Texas was at a high. This push for change from both inmates and society as a whole was a direct result of the increased awareness of the issues that occurred within Texas prisons. The publication of the violations occurring behind bars began with the inmates themselves. As inmates sought justice by speaking out and taking action in court, the media effectively stepped in to shed much-needed light on this clouded issue. In addition to articles providing insight into lawsuits against the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC) and their practices, graphics such as the comic strip pictured were used to further emphasize the unethical violations to human rights occurring in Texas prisons. Without the advocation and platform provided by publicized materials, these stories would have gone unknown and no record would be left for us to now reflect on.
Information, Advocacy, and Reflection
Another form in which this information was transmitted was through the publication and dispersal of brochures that illustrated and discussed the lawsuits underway and the people behind the fight for reform. Organizations such as the Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE) and the Prisoner Solidarity Committee were very active during this time period as they produced these informational materials in hopes of raising awareness and getting people involved in the legal battle. These materials provided an array of insight into prison mistreatment and the journey to reform as they included images of harsh living environments, brutal punishments, and emotionally striking words from inmates.
In 1972, a prisoner named David Ruiz with the help of his attorney, Frances Jalet-Cruz, sued W. J. Estelle, the Director of the Texas Department of Corrections. Ruiz's lawsuit alleged that confinement in the Texas prison system constituted cruel and unusual punishment, ultimately violating the Eighth Amendment. This brochure depicted here highlighted the Ruiz v. Estelle lawsuit and provided Ruiz with the platform to give his perspective and tell his story. Despite society's tendency to overlook the imprisoned community, prison and the stories of its inhabitants would not be silenced.