Austin Eversole is in trouble right now (that is, placed in solitary confinement), and it is very difficult to present a definitive account of the situation because the administration of the Texas prisons (TDCJ) is stonewalling me about what is really going on. So the information I am sharing with you is necessarily one-sided; that is, The Free World vs. TDCJ. With officialdom resorting to secrecy, cover-up, and possible fabrication, this post is “biased” in favor of those facts and conclusions which I have been able to ascertain from sources other than TDCJ.
That said, these are the facts as far as I have been able to establish them.
On or about May 20, Austin was instructed not to report to his job at the library of the Clemens Unit prison by education officers Atkins and Calvillo on the orders of principal Simon. The next day, officer Calvillo told Austin he had been ordered by Simon to write up a disciplinary report on Austin for “unauthorized use of state property” (code 18.1) for allegedly downloading music to it. The following day, Austin was moved to A-Row from the privileged “tanks” living area, where well-behaved inmates are allowed to reside. Normally, to do this an inmate’s custody status must be lowered, the inmate goes to “court,” and then attends a “Unit Classification Committee” (UCC) meeting. None of this was done in Austin’s case.
Following the initiation of this punishment, Sgt. McRory questioned Austin about Austin’s access to the library equipment and supplies:
• McRory asked Austin about printouts sent to him by John Likens, a reader of this blog and one of Austin’s correspondents, for Austin’s use in a Toastmaster’s presentation. McRory’s questions belied his suspicions that the printouts may have been produced on library equipment. He said that his “evidence” was that the printouts sent by John had no creases; they were sent in catalog envelopes to eliminate the need for folding, and passed through the mail room censors. Austin explained the source of the printouts and explained they couldn’t have been produced by the library’s equipment anyway, because the printouts were in color and the library does not have color printers. Even though the prison did not follow up on McRory’s suspicions with a call to Mr. Likens, John sent McRory a letter confirming that he was in fact the source of the “incriminating” printouts.
• McRory then questioned Austin about a subject to which most computer users don’t give a second thought unless they are troubleshooting a specific technical problem: spare computer cords and circuit boards that had been stored in a supply cabinet. Austin explained that for all he knew, the cords and extra circuit boards were still in the supply cabinet.
• McRory asked Austin about an Epson scanner which appeared to be missing. Austin was unaware of this piece of equipment’s existence and told McRory there was no documentation that an Epson scanner had even been in the library.
These questions having failed to indicate any wrongdoing, Austin was released.
A week later, on Friday May 29, McRory summoned Austin to question him about an external hard drive that he said was “missing” from the library. Austin replied that he did not know it was missing, and that he had nothing to do with it. He suggested some places to where the hard drive may have been moved. McRory was not satisfied, and presented a piece of black-and-white pornography which had been found elsewhere in the prison and which he suspected had been scanned and had come off the missing hard drive. Austin explained that this was technically impossible because the library computer is a “thin client” (not a full CPU) and was missing a CD drive necessary for downloading the software and drivers necessary to use a scanning device. This was not the answer McRory wanted, and he kept pressing. He produced an interoffice memo that Austin had typed for the principal (Simon) in connection with the duties of his job, and claimed this memo would somehow provide a connection to the porn, the missing hard drive, and everything else the authorities want to prove against Austin.
Austin has yet to be actually “served” with a case that will stick, and he has been placed on “transient” status and illegally isolated from the general population. Sgt. McRory’s questioning of Austin suggests the prison authorities are looking for anything that can be construed on paper as an example of “wrongdoing” by Austin. But the problem is, in taking on Austin Eversole, they are trying to besmirch the record of a model prisoner who has conscientiously tried to comply with everything that was expected of him.
So what is going on?
In December 2012, I put a New York-based filmmaker, Gigantic Pictures, onto Austin’s story. They subsequently interviewed him, and then the project was put on hold while the producers attended to other projects. Now they want to reactivate the project, and have secured permission from TDCJ to conduct a followup interview with Austin (even though the Ombudsman for TDCJ claims she is unable to locate the approval paperwork). This interview was originally scheduled for late this month, but in the light of present circumstances, it has been pushed off to early July.
I can’t prove it, but the fact that TDCJ has no evidence of wrongdoing, the fact that its investigations are ongoing (and can be continued as long as the authorities need them to be continued), the fact that Austin has already had his status changed and has been placed in solitary confinement (despite any actionable charges being identified), and now the Ombudsman’s claim that the approval cannot be verified, give every appearance of the authorities’ attempt to interfere with Austin’s access to the media.
There is a new warden at Clemens, Cornelius Smith—different from the one who originally approved Gigantic Pictures’ interview—and it is he who apparently instructed Sgt. McRory to find something to justify Austin’s being isolated from the media.
If this were a one-time thing, my conclusion might easily be dismissed as wild conjecture. But in 2013 and 2014, MSNBC wanted to do a story about Austin. They thoroughly researched his account of having been abused by his father, and determined that Austin’s story is truthful. They determined that he should not have been charged and sentenced as an adult. However, TDCJ’s interactions with MSNBC were so difficult and unreasonable, MSNBC eventually folded and cancelled their project. The reporter was so disgusted with TDCJ and MSNBC, she has since moved to another network.
I think what is going on is that the state of Texas is trying to obfuscate the fact that it subscribes to a particularly cruel and harsh sense of justice against juveniles, a view that is rapidly losing favor in society today. Rather than embracing the change, Texas authorities are continuing to drag their knuckles and to even resort to the frame-up of a model inmate to avoid admitting that the official policy is to punish the victims of parental abuse.
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