W.J. Estelle Unit
|Location||264 FM 3478
Huntsville, Texas 77320-3320
|Security class||G1-G5, Administrative Segregation, Safekeeping, Substance Abuse, Geriatric, Transient Medical Facility: All levels requiring medical treatment|
|Capacity||Unit: 3,148 SAFP (Substance Abuse Felony Punishment): 212 Regional Medical Facility: 120|
|Managed by||TDCJ Correctional Institutions Division|
W. J. "Jim" Estelle Unit (E2, originally the Ellis II Unit) is a prison located on Farm to Market Road 3478 in unincorporated Walker County, Texas, United States, 10 miles (16 km) north of central Huntsville. The prison, with about 5,459 square feet (507.2 m2) of space, is operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The unit, which opened in June 1984, was named after Ward James "Jim" Estelle, a former prison director of Texas.
The Estelle Unit has a geriatric facility, a program for physically handicapped inmates, a program for substance abuse, a high security unit, and a regional medical facility. The Estelle High Security Unit, the high security unit, is a supermax facility.
Around 1991 TDCJ planned to build a separate facility for elderly inmates. In 1995 the unit received its current name. In 1999, a prisoner named Clifford Dwayne Jones escaped by slipping one of his hands out of a pair of handcuffs and then scaling several walls. The inmate left behind his clothes and shoes, possibly to foil tracking dogs. The inmate was captured about 48 hours after his escape. Jones's escape was the first escape from the high security unit.
On May 12, 2010 Thord "Catfish" Dockray, a prisoner with a history of mental illness, threw urine on prison guards. Guards ordered him to exit his cell, but he refused. The guards released chemicals to try to subdue Dockray, but he continued his assault. After Dockray was subdued, medics attended to Dockray, who refused medical care. On May 13 the prisoner was found face down in his cell. The prisoner was taken to Huntsville Memorial Hospital, where he died.
As of 2010 a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics stated that the percentage of prisoners who were sexually abused within the preceding year was 15.7% at Estelle. The BJS surveyed inmates in hundreds of state and federal prisons and county jails. Nationwide, the rate of inmates reporting sexual victimization within a prior 12-month period was 4.5 percent. The Estelle rate was the highest in the U.S.
The Estelle High Security Unit is a self-contained facility north of the main Estelle prison facility. The high security unit was the first of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's "super seg" units, which have many administrative segregation cells. The security unit houses many of the most violent male prisoners in the State of Texas. The security unit also houses prisoners who purposefully cause problems in order to escape from the general population for fear of victimization.
- "Estelle Unit." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on September 29, 2011.
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- de la Luz Martínez, María. "Taking a hard look at prisons." Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Northern Hemisphere Spring of 2006. Retrieved on May 7, 2010.
- Ward, Mike. "Hunt is on for escaped killer." Austin American-Statesman. June 29, 1999. A1. Retrieved on November 27, 2010. "Clifford Dwayne Jones' escape from the Estelle High-Security Unit on Sunday afternoon was the first from a Texas prison this year and the first from the "super max" lockup, as the unit is called."
- McVicker, Steve. "Unnecessary Roughness." Houston Press. Thursday October 12, 2000. 1. Retrieved on October 2, 2010.
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- McVicker, Steve. "King Con." Houston Press. Thursday February 6, 1997.
- Estelle Unit - Texas Department of Criminal Justice
- Estelle Unit at INPM - International Network of Prison Ministries
- Estelle Unit Does It All—And Then Some - National Commission on Correctional Health Care
- List of prisoners in the Estelle Unit - The Texas Observer