|Location||2305 Ransom Road|
Gatesville, Texas 76528
|Security class||G1-G5, Administrative Segregation, Death row|
|Managed by||TDCJ Correctional Institutions Division|
Mountain View Unit is a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison housing female offenders in Gatesville, Texas. The unit, with about 97 acres (39 ha) of land, is located 4 miles (6.4 km) north of central Gatesville on Farm to Market Road 215. The prison is located in a 45-minute driving distance from Waco. In addition to its other functions, Mountain View Unit houses the state's female death row inmates.
Death row offenders are housed separately from the rest of the prisoners in single-person cells measuring 60 square feet (5.6 m2), with each cell having a window. They do not have recreation individually. Some are allowed to watch television, though this is dependent upon agreeing to work for free, and all have a radio.
Inmates at Mountain View include Kimberly Clark Saenz, Yolanda Saldívar, Linda Carty, Brittany Holberg, and Darlie Routier. As of October 11, 2019, Amber Guyger, the former Dallas Police Department officer convicted of the murder of Botham Jean, is serving her sentence at the facility.
As of 2004, the facility does not have a sign on the area main highway.
On March 31, 1995, at around 11:48 a.m., Yolanda Saldivar killed the Queen of Tejano Selena at the Days Inn Motel in Corpus Christi Texas. Saldívar is currently serving her sentence of life imprisonment. She will be eligible for parole on March 30, 2025, the day before the 30th anniversary of Selena's murder.
The Mountain View State School closed in 1975, and its boys were sent to other facilities. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice bought the land and buildings. The facility reopened as a women's prison. The Mountain View Unit opened in July 1975.
The prison may hold up to 645 inmates. Ruth Hill of The Observer described the unit as "intimidating", saying that the "bunker-like buildings are punctuated with slit windows and wreathed in wire, with guard towers on every corner". In regard to the name, Hill stated, "But there is no mountain, and from the prison's death row, there is no view".
Around 2001, several inmates at Mountain View were in a Windham School District effort to translate textbooks into braille. These books are intended for Texas schoolchildren and college and university students. Kevin VonRosenberg, one of the coordinators of the braille program, stated in 2014 that it is a very sought-after inmate positions. Prisoners learn how to use a Perkins Brailler, then use computers to do actual work. The program was established in 1999. This is one of the largest braille programs within an American prison.
The women's death row is located in a red-brick, one-story building that first opened in 1985 to house psychiatric patients. The female death-row and psychiatric patients together occupy the same building. Plans to renovate the building first occurred in 1995 and renovation began in early 2000. The renovation cost was $95,000.
The building has a day room and a work area along with two rows of cells, with six cells each. One row is designated for women punished in administrative segregation and/or those who do not wish to work, and another row is for women who wish to work. Each cell is 14 feet (4.3 m) by 6 feet (1.8 m). The doors use traditional bars, unlike the men's death row at the Polunsky Unit near Livingston, Texas. The building is air conditioned, since it also houses a psychiatric unit. Amy Dorsett of the San Antonio Express-News said that the facility has "gleaming white walls, sun-filled cells, and a decorative recreation room". Pam Baggett, the warden of Mountain View, stated in 2000 that the new death row was less "homey" than the previous one.
From the early 1980s to 2000, condemned women were housed in an eight-cell building with an immediately adjacent, combined day room and work area. The communal area had a television and a center for making crafts. Mary Mapes, the author of Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power, wrote that each cell was painted in bright colors and that the cells, which "could have been dorm rooms in a particularly austere college", had cots with "lacy touches", afghans, and "colorful pillows". She added that the death row in general had comfortable seating and was brightly colored.
As of 2004, the female death-row inmates may participate in a work program and have limited viewing of a television located outside of their cells. No television was available when the current death-row building first opened in 2000. Each death-row inmate may have limited association with the other inmates. The women on death row are permitted to knit and sew. As of the 1990s, they made dolls for sick children.
The death-row inmates use a 50-yard (46 m) by 10-yard (9.1 m) recreation yard with basketball hoops, a tree, and a bench.
All inmates on this list are/were under death sentences from the State of Texas.
- Karla Faye Tucker—Executed on February 3, 1998
- Betty Lou Beets—Executed on February 24, 2000.
- Frances Newton—Executed on September 14, 2005
- Kimberly McCarthy—Executed on June 26, 2013
- Suzanne Basso—Executed on February 5, 2014
- Lisa Coleman—Executed on September 17, 2014
- Brittany Holberg
- Darlie Lynn Routier
- Kimberly Cargill
- Linda Carty
- Erica Yvonne Sheppard
- Taylor Rene Parker
Non-death row inmates
- Yolanda Saldívar
- Kimberly Trenor
- Diane Zamora Zamora is no longer housed at Mountain View. She has been relocated to the Dr. Lane Murray Unit, also in Gatesville, TX.
- Christine Paolilla
- Kimberly Clark Saenz
- Amber Guyger
- "Mountain View Unit Archived 2010-07-25 at the Wayback Machine". Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on May 10, 2010.
- Krajicek, David. "On Death Row". Sue Basso, Crime Library. Retrieved on October 18, 2010.
- "Mountain View (MV) - Unit Directory". www.tdcj.texas.gov. Retrieved 2020-08-18.
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Turner Publishing Company. 2004. p. 100. ISBN 978-1-56311-964-4.
- Hannaford, Alex. "'I'm not afraid of dying. I'm just angry'". The Guardian. Monday July 26, 2004. Retrieved on September 26, 2010.
- "Mountain View School for Boys". Handbook of Texas. Retrieved on July 23, 2010.
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Turner Publishing Company, 2004. 100. ISBN 1-56311-964-1, ISBN 978-1-56311-964-4.
- Howerton, Matt. "Unique Program Offers Local Prison Inmates Chance At Salvation Archived 2015-06-14 at the Wayback Machine" (Archive). KWTX-TV. February 26, 2014. Retrieved on December 30, 2015.
- Hill, Ruth. "Linda Carty: 'someone is trying to take my life for someone else's crime'". The Observer at The Guardian. Sunday June 27, 2010. Retrieved on July 23, 2010.
- "News Briefs". Windham School District. 3rd Quarter of 2002. Retrieved on May 30, 2010.
- "TCI Braille Transcribing Services ." Texas Correctional Industries. Retrieved on January 20, 2016.
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- Dorsett, Amy. "Grim Unit Gets Face Lift New death row for women ready". San Antonio Express-News. September 13, 2000. Metro/South Texas 1B. Retrieved on July 19, 2010.
- Mapes, Mary. Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power. Macmillan Publishers, October 31, 2006. ISBN 1429906952, 9781429906951. p. 45.
- Mapes, Mary. Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power. Macmillan Publishers, October 31, 2006. ISBN 1429906952, 9781429906951. p. 44.
- "Karla Faye Tucker: Born again on death row". CNN. March 26, 2007. Retrieved on July 23, 2010.
- "Executed Offenders Archived 2006-11-08 at the Wayback Machine". Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on July 23, 2010.
- "Betty Lou Beets Archived 2005-10-12 at the Wayback Machine". Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on October 3, 2010.
- "Last Statement—Betty Lou Beets Archived 2011-06-11 at the Wayback Machine". Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on October 3, 2010.
- Tilghman, Andrew. "Woman faces execution, but not without a fight". Houston Chronicle. November 29, 2004. Retrieved on July 23, 2010.
- "Offender Information Detail Holberg, Brittany Marlowe Archived 2015-12-27 at the Wayback Machine" (Archive). Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on December 28, 2015.
- Hollandsworth, Skip. "Maybe Darlie Didn't Do It". Texas Monthly. July 2002. Retrieved on July 23, 2010.
- "Offender Information Detail Saldivar, Yolanda Archived 2015-12-25 at the Wayback Machine" (Archive). Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on December 25, 2015.
- Perez, Nicole. "NO, Yolanda Saldivar did not die in prison." KSAT-TV. August 17, 2015. Retrieved on December 25, 2015. "Saldivar is serving a life sentence at the state's Mountain View Facility in Gatesville for the 1995 murder of Selena."
- "Trenor, Kimberly Dawn Archived 2015-12-27 at the Wayback Machine" (Archive). Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on December 28, 2015.
- "Offender Information Detail Zamora, Diane Archived 2015-12-27 at the Wayback Machine" (Archive). Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on December 28, 2015.
- Boyd, Deanna (2018-07-25). "Texas killer cadet Diane Zamora was unhappy with her housing. Court declines to help". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved 2019-01-08.
- "Paolilla, Christine Marie Archived 2015-12-27 at the Wayback Machine" (Archive). Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on December 28, 2015.