Huntsville, Texas is the center of Texas’ huge prison system, formally known as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. It is a town famous for executing prisoners condemned to death row, at the Walls Unit, located in the center of town. But it is also where all prisoners entering the state’s prison system get classified, that is assigned to one of the over one hundred prisons across the state. Upon completing their sentences, Huntsville is where prisoners are transferred to be released. Every working day of the week, hundreds of men sign their parole papers, receive a fifty dollar check for new clothes, and a one way bus ticket back home. If friends or family are not waiting for them, they walk the two blocks from the Walls Unit to the Greyhound bus ticket.
In 2000, I spent some time hanging around that bus station.