Tdcj Building Tenders


Building tenders were Texas trusty inmates of the 1960’s, 70’s and early 80’s hand picked by correctional officers to help keep prison gangs and problem prisoners in check. Building tenders were allowed to use violence and intimidation to keep inmates in line and often sold contraband smuggled in by correctional officers.

Building tenders were given a master key to each cell and were required to pass out trays of food. Building tender inmates were known to raid the cells of offenders who gave correctional officers a hard time. Officers would issue the order of an assault and building tenders would respond with beat downs and stompings.

Abusive building tenders took advantage of their authority and made many enemies in prison. Building tenders who assaulted segregated gang members were often the cause of bloody riots. Prison gangs began to retaliate and cases of building tenders being stabbed or dashed with boiling water as they passed by offender cells began to increase.

In 1980 with the ruling of a civil suit against the Texas Department of Corrections prison officials in Texas decided to end the practice of building tenders. As soon as the building tenders were removed, inmates began verbally and physically assaulting guards and prison gangs flourished.

“When you pull that buffer group out of there that leaves the staff by themselves to control hundreds of inmates. It’s almost as if you’re taking the lid off of a pressure cooker.” Said former TDCJ correctional officer James Marquart, who worked at the Ellis state prison in Huntsville, Texas.
The reforms intended to improve prison life only made prison worse. Gangs began jocking for power and the penitentiary became a war zone.




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