18
Sep

TDCJ Jordan Unit Or Bust. Travels Of A Texas Twin. Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham…

Months ago, Ashley had contacted me to marry her at Roach Unit. In July, we were finally on schedule. My client was uncomfortable driving in downtown Fort Worth. Her first visit to the clerks office, her grandfather drove her and I met her. 

Ashleys grandfather is an amazing man. He’s taken on caring for Ashley and her son as well as her cousin living under his roof while caring for his wife suffering with Alzheimer’s. I worry about the stress he has. Meeting him in person, he’s far more resilient than I had expected. A former Marine and retiree of Lockheed Martin, his wife is a retired schoolteacher. Ashley’s grandfather has a full plate. 

Sadly, for Ashley, the Absentee Affidavit had not been Notarized by the notary at the law library. Getting Ashley married wasn’t going to be easy but, I am not one to give up easily. 

From the clerks office and my first in person meeting with Ashley, I contacted the Unit. I also mailed a new Affidavit to the Unit and assured Ashley that I was going to get her a new Affidavit. Ashley left the courthouse crying and concerned. Ashley and I would stay in contact over the next few months on a wild ride of “following the groom.”

A few weeks later, Ashley called to tell me she had a new Affidavit and needed me to drive her back to the clerks office. I drove to Richland Hills and picked her up stopping for a quick lunch in Watauga. 

Once we were at the clerks office, another fiasco would ensue. I’m glad Ashley wasn’t alone at the clerks office that day “waiting for the next shoe to fall” on her wedding plans.

This time, the ID was invalid. I had Ashley call the law library to request the proper TDCJ form of Inmate ID only to learn that the inmate had been “put on a chain.” Glenn was no longer at Roach Unit and Ashley obviously wasn’t going to be marrying him 48 hours later. 

Devastated yet again and confused as to why getting married was becoming so difficult, Ashley had encountered setback after setback. 

A few weeks ago while at another Unit, Ashley sent me a photo of her marriage license. She had finally obtained it with the help from the law librarian at Jordan Unit. I contacted the Unit and scheduled her wedding for 1PM on 09-17-2019. Ashley asked if she could ride with me and we set up plans to leave my home office at 7AM yesterday. 

At 6AM, Ashley sent me a text “I know I’m early but I didn’t want to get lost. I’m a few blocks from your house.” I sent a text back that read “let’s leave early. Meet me in the driveway.” 

My navigation on google was (as usual) running me in circles. I’d never been to Jordan Unit so I had Ashley load the directions into her phone. Past Bridgeport and Allred Unit and even Roach Unit, I drove on. The drive to Jordan much like my drives to Garza Units, McConnell, Stiles, Darrington and other five hour plus one way jaunts can be exhausting. I spent easily 12-15 hours on the road.

Arriving at 12:30PM at Jordan, I checked in with my husband and grabbed Ashley’s marriage license. She was finally going to get married. The glass was a possibility wwe were both aware of but separation is up to the Warden and neither I or Ashley knew for sure if Glenn would be behind glass. 

I checked in with the wardens secretary and waited on a bench with Ashley. The visitation area was bustling with activity. We would wait an hour and a half for the room to finally be announced “clean” before clearing in and escorting into the area.

Jordan Unit has no machine walk through. It’s the only Texas Unit I’ve been inside that doesn’t. The warden advised us that the wedding would be behind glass which dissapointed my client.

Walking up to the phones, I noticed that Glenn had a black eye. I then noticed his infected finger and assumed it was a spider bite. Ashley noticed that Glenn had lost weight. Glenn cannot call Ashley due to a charge. Glenn suffers from seizures. But the black eye was due to his “roomie” punching him over a tattoo gun being found in their cell. Glenn went in as a G1. While in El Paso, Glenn had apparently taken a pill from another inmate for a headache at Sanchez Unit and caught a charge that moved his status from a G1 to a G4. At Jordan Unit, the tattoo gun netted Glenn the black eye and segregation. Glenn is 23 years old. Glenn is in prison for missing his check in on probation. 

Moving through the ceremony via two phones, Glenn and Ashley like anyone else had hoped for a contact visit. But, Prison Weddings follow protocol. 

Ashley and Glenn share a seven year old son. Ashley lives with her grandparents. Her grandfather had taken her son to school yesterday. We pose for photos. I pay for the photos. I borrow a pen to sign the license. I then give Ashley and Glenn a few moments to visit while waiting on the photos to print.Back in my suv, finding gas station near this Unit is a hurdle. Generally, finding a station near a Unit isn’t.

Jordan Unit is literally in the middle of nowhere. I finally locate a broken down gas station in dire need of fresh paint with farmers in overalls being the only customers. Relieved that I didn’t run out of gas, I also buy Ashley chips and a drink before heading to Fort Worth. 

Just outside of Childress, I see a building for a few bridal photos. I pull over and unload items for Ashley. She is thrilled the wedding is finally over. I am too.Ashley sleeps as I drive on several hours while taking calls for Smith, Wallace-Ware, Darrington, Stiles and Coffield. 

It’s 4:45AM when I began writing this blog. I worry about Glenn in segregation. I worry about Ashley, their son and their future together.

I’m in Huntsville today at numerous Units meeting numerous clients excited about getting married. I leave at 6AM to start my day…