East Texas Treatment Facility Springs Into Action After Hurricane Laura

Busses arriving from the LeBlanc Unit

The East Texas Treatment Facility, in Henderson, TX was put into action by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to provide shelter against the recent threat of Hurricane Laura.

On Sunday August 23, 2020 at 6:30 p.m., administrators received notification that the TDCJ LeBlanc Unit, in Beaumont, would be evacuating the entire population to East Texas. With only a few short hours to respond and prepare, the facility went into immediate action to get ready for the arrival of 1,014 additional incarcerated men.

Men from LeBlanc Unit arrive at MTC’s facility

Many staff were roused from their homes to come in and help with the massive effort. They prepared classrooms and multipurpose areas to accommodate the influx.  Beds, pillows, blankets, and a wide variety of other necessities had to be rounded up from within the facility, as well as other nearby MTC facilities. The intake of the men from the LeBlanc Unit took over 24-hours. All the same, staff greeted the men with smiles, encouragement, and plenty of bottled water. Many East Texas staff had to work around the clock to facilitate all of the logistics.

Hot meals were served, clean clothes were issued, and question after question was answered. The chaplain, along with two TDCJ chaplains, made constant rounds and hundreds of phone calls to these offenders’ families, ensuring them their loved ones were safe.

A few of the evacuated men expressed their thanks on video.

East Texas staff welcome men arriving from LeBlanc Unit

Damian Adams: “It’s been a God-blessed transition, and everything’s been really good. We’ve been treated really well. I’ve enjoyed it very much; it’s been a great experience all the way around.”

David Loop: “I thought the communication from everybody here, [from the] staff was quite good. Not in a forceful or loud way; kind of in a soothing way.”

Larry Brim: “But once we were here, and we met some of the staff, it was a different environment. More pleasant and more reasonable to talk to.”

A common phrase spoken by many of the LeBlanc evacuees to the East Texas staff was, ‘are y’all always this nice?’

Damian Adams: “The chaplaincy and the staff have worked pretty tirelessly and patiently with us and it’s been great.”

David Loop: “Man, you know how to treat people humanly, I’ll say that.”

Larry Brim: “They care, and that makes a big difference.”

Another evacuated resident from the LeBlanc Unit expressed his thanks to a friend and asked the friend to spread the word about his positive experience at East Texas. The friend’s letter, addressed to the facility administrators, follows:

Busses arriving from the LeBlanc Unit

“I am a personal friend of a gentleman (Maurice Dean Schruben) who is incarcerated at the LaBlanc Unit of the TDCJ and was evacuated to your facility during the recent hurricanes. I and a group of his friends are in regular communication with Dean and have heard many descriptions over recent years of the conditions in which prisoners are kept, fed, housed and treated. Dean has been housed in, I believe, 3 different Texas units since first being incarcerated. I want you to know Dean is a very educated and intelligent gentleman who was falsely accused and wrongly convicted. Throughout his incarceration he has maintained his sense of humor and often pokes fun at his situation. We are all so grateful for his upbeat attitude considering his situation.

The reason I am writing to you is to thank you for the respite that your facility and staff provided to the LaBlanc prisoners. In a 10-page letter Dean described the entire trip to Henderson, their time there, and the trip back to LaBlanc. Their stay at Henderson was a real treat. Ever the true Texas gentleman, Dean wanted you folks to know they truly appreciated the care and feeding your staff provided to them. You have my gratitude as well.”

Thankfully yours, Susan D. Ashley.