For eight months now the stress of not being able to visit a TDCJ inmate continues. As of yet and regardless of the “chatter” AKA gossip, TDCJ is not releasing thousands of inmates due to the number of inmates transferring from county jails into state prisons.
There are so many rumors out there giving false hope to people who need hope the most that I’m writing this blog while in a truck stop parking lot to stop the rumor mill.
Last weeks conference call didn’t even touch on in person visitation. Instead the focus was on Covid cases. As of yet, we still have no official word on in person visitation in TDCJ facilities.
Meanwhile and since my other clients follow this site, Fort Worth FMC as well as other Federal Facilities has reinstated visitation with preregistration requirements. Please be aware of these requirements.
Lompoc clients, there is a large number of inmates with projected release dates. I will not be returning to Lompoc until February or March of 2021. Normally, I’m in California several times a year but due to client rescheduled event dates of Texas Twins Event’s and The Pawning Planners as well as Federal Clients, traveling to California at this time is improbable if not impossible.
2 of the three clients I was scheduled to marry this week have tested positive for Covid. Please be aware that this virus is still out there. My daughter in law, Stephanie was at a hospital in Tyler last weekend and apparently exposed to Covid while visiting her uncle who was on life support due to a self inflicted gunshot. The issues of this tragic event have caused great anxiety to my daughter in law as well as the possibility of being Covid positive after spending two days at the hospital. In fact, an argument regarding a GoFundMe account to raise money for a funeral rather than a cremation started an argument between my daughter in law and I at a birthday lunch this week. My daughter in law was arguing about what her uncle wanted. I was arguing about him wanting a $10-12k funeral because “he didn’t want to be cremated.” I advised my daughter in law that we are in a pandemic with Christmas right around the corner and people aren’t in a position to fund a full fledged funeral for someone who chose to shoot himself. I then reiterated that my daughter in laws focus needs to be on her son and her husband as well as her job and not at the demands of someone expecting their surviving family to fund an expensive funeral. I’m a realist.
Today while on messenger, “aunt Margie” my daughter in laws aunt had sent me a message and FB hid it since we weren’t connected. The message was somewhat cryptic and led me to suspect it was from one of my clients planning to marry an inmate so I responded. Apparently, Margies son is at Cole Unit in Bonham, Texas. She wanted me to send her the forms to request a Reprieve For Family Emergency. Please be aware that due to Covid, the odds of TDCJ granting a reprieve are slim. Why? Because releasing an inmate to attend a funeral can expose the inmate to Covid. I then sent her a parole packet and letters of support template. She asked me about the forms for a Hardship Transfer which I also sent. Hardship Transfers are tricky. Margie lives 90 minutes from Cole Unit.
While Bridgeport is closer, there is no guarantee that TDCJ will choose a Unit closer simply because it is closer. Further, Bridgeport while operating under TDCJ is one of the very few privately owned Units in Texas. Because of this fact, Bridgeport has different guidelines and does not require offer Unit Photos which is why you never see Unit Photos from Bridgeport unless they are from the parking lot and non authorized.
I then suggested a paupers funeral or donating the body to science since I was asked and was told “I’m not cremating my brother. That’s not what he wanted.”
Folks, I’m going to be blatantly honest about the fact that no one expects death. No one expects suicide. Texas provides paupers funerals for indigent deaths that occur in this state. Another option is cremation. Even if the deceased owns property, the expense of preparing a body along with the casket and other factors can easily run $5-7k.
In the “suicide situation” that presented itself upon my daughter in law the day she and my son were returning from the Colorado Wedding, I found it more than a little selfish that Robert was adamant about not wanting to be cremated. For reasons I don’t understand, trying to explain to my daughter in law that this wasn’t her problem resulted in an argument. My son however saw my point. I spent the rest of my day making food deliveries for our pantry recipients and wondering why on earth my daughter in law thought or expected that strangers would miraculously donate enough money to cover a costly funeral?
Texas has what’s called a Body Disposition Affidavit. If you aren’t married or the next of kin, the decision of what to do with your body can be required with a Body Disposition Affidavit. My father didn’t have one for Gretta. Because he didn’t, Gretta’s sister, Kathy contacted Greenwood and stopped my father from planning and paying for the funeral. For thirty days, Greenwood waited on Kathy to take over funeral planning. For thirty days, the bill to store Gretta grew. After 30 days her body had deteriorated to such an extent that it took me three hours to prepare her for an open casket ceremony. Gretta owned a plot at Greenwood. The cost to prepare, store and bury her was $12k.
Whatever your feelings are regarding death and expenses, if your survivors cannot afford to carry out your wishes, the options left to them are somewhat limited. After all, your family members have bills to pay and families to support.
Today my son called me to tell me about Stephanie and Covid. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce that she was exposed going to visit this uncle who had shot himself. I saw photos on the GoFundMe Campaign of several relatives not wearing masks. In fact, yesterday I asked my son “why wasn’t anyone wearing a mask?” Whatever your feelings on masks are, being with a group of people is and can be an event that exposes you to this virus.
This evening while traveling back from a wedding elopement ceremony in Dallas, Cindy called me about one of our former clients, Debbie’s daughter, Hannah calling her about moving in. Hannah is pregnant, 21 and living at home with her mother. Things aren’t going well but moving in with Cindy isn’t the solution to this problem. Cindy is raising her twin granddaughters. For years when her adult daughters, Leigh Ann and Stephaney were in school, their friends would move in with Cindy over and over again. In fact, my sons friend, Jeremy lived with us off and on for a few years. His mom was an alcoholic. But, Cindy and I are older and have commitments that prevent us from housing someone because they’ve been kicked out of the house. Our pantry provides food and clothing but not shelter. We can refer you to a shelter and assistance but we cannot move you into our homes. I’m sorry but we have husbands that don’t even have children of their own and want privacy. In fact they are entitled to some degree of privacy because being married to us is a literal circus of our adult children and grandchildren already. I’m being honest and transparent about this topic.
Hannah balked at my suggestion for family counseling with her mom but Hannah is expecting a child and needs to understand that living with her mother requires attempting to get along with her mother. I have no idea if there’s a relationship at all with Hannah’s mother but I know this, I’ve met Hannah’s mother and she opened her house to her. Hannah needs to follow her moms rules and attempt to get along.
Many of you are already aware that Tiger King is incarcerated at Fort Worth FMC. It’s a media circus there. If you are scheduled for a ceremony at FMC, PLEASE give yourself at least an hour to wade through the traffic. We must arrive on time.
Many of you are contacting me because your LO has made parole. Ceremonies outside of Walls Unit are a celebration of freedom and perfect opportunity to marry after release. I’m happy to meet you in Huntsville.
For everyone else as we continue to wait on visitation to be reinstated at your Unit, please do not send an absentee affidavit. This document is only valid 30 days once notarized. Law libraries get crispy about having to continuously notarize these Affidavits. Hold the affidavit until we are certain visitation has been reinstated and we can move forward.
Please be aware that although Missouri Affidavits have a longer shelf life that Texas will not accept a Missouri Absentee Affidavit.
Stay safe and try to stay positive. This cannot last forever. For client’s who were scheduled in March and April who were cancelled at TDCJ Units, when visitation is reinstated, contact me and I will split the cost of your replacement marriage licenses.
Please be aware that proxy marriage was banned within TDCJ in 2013. The new Administrative Directive pertaining to inmate marriages within TDCJ requires protocol and procedure to be followed. Meaning there have been no changes to the procedure. TDCJ must approve the marriage. You must be an approved visitor. Marriages must take place in person at the Unit the inmate is located at. There have been no changes to procedure that allow for phone or video call weddings. In fact, threw way calls are strictly prohibited. TDCJ will not change an inmates status to common law married unless this status was claimed going into the system. An inmate cannot be common law married if he isn’t living with you. CLM Affidavits are no longer an option after incarceration.
If your ceremony was not approved, it is not valid per TDCJ’s policies and procedures. TDCJ will not approve any wedding until visitation is reinstated as being on site is a requirement according to their guidelines. If someone is telling you otherwise, they are misleading you. Be aware of con artists. They are out there.
I follow all policy and procedure in every state and can assure you that trying to go around mandates isn’t a good idea or one that will work. We must follow all policies strictly and to the letter.
Regarding ICE ceremonies, there are still no visitation changes that have occurred. We must be on site and in person to get you married. If we cannot get access, we cannot get you married.