Mountain View Unit
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.
Karla Faye Tucker, executed February 3, 1998, was the first woman to be executed in Texas since 1863. The most recent female to be executed was Lisa Coleman, executed on September 17, 2014.
A notable woman in the prison is Yolanda Saldívar, the murderer of Tejano superstar Selena. Saldívar shot and killed her on March 31, 1995 in Selena's hometown of 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.
As of 2004, the facility is not signposted from the area main highway.
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 re-opened 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 regards 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 current 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. There was no television 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.
Death row inmates
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
- Melissa Elizabeth Lucio
- Erica Yvonne Sheppard
Non-death row inmates
- Yolanda Saldívar
- Kimberly Trenor
- Diane Zamora
- Marcia Kelly
- Celeste Beard Johnson
- Christine Paolilla
- "Mountain View Unit". Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on May 10, 2010.
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- 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.
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- 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". Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on July 23, 2010.
- "Betty Lou Beets". Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on October 3, 2010.
- "Last Statement—Betty Lou Beets". 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" (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" (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" (Archive). Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on December 28, 2015.
- "Offender Information Detail Zamora, Diane" (Archive). Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on December 28, 2015.
- "Kelly, Marcia Gayle" (Archive). Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on December 28, 2015.
- "Johnson, Celeste Beard" (Archive). Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on December 28, 2015.
- "Paolilla, Christine Marie" (Archive). Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on December 28, 2015.