Journalism in the service of society

Our ordeals working in Texas prisons, by Nigerians

TEXAS, one of America’s fifty states,  is home to the chunk of Nigerians who have made the United States their home, with Houston hosting the majority.

Texas’ huge population comes with the challenge of a severe crime rate. 

The state, known as the Lone Star State, is ranked 11th on the list of most dangerous states in the US.  It has 391.1 crimes per 100,000 people. This huge crime rate is linked to its status as having the ninth highest poverty rate in the country in 2021 at 14.2 percent. 

When those behind these crimes are caught, they are tried and jailed if found guilty. 

With no less than 200, 000 people scattered in its 252 jails, more and more correctional officers are needed to police the convicts. This has provided jobs for many Nigerians who live in Texas.

Speaking under the condition that their surnames will be protected, the relived their experiences as correctional officers.

Mojeed, who has been an officer for no less than two years, said: ” One day, I mistakenly locked myself inside the jail and was there for some minutes before the door was opened for me. That day, I appreciated the value of freedom. It opened my eyes to what being behind bars truly means. I was humbled.”

For Tayo, working with the correctional centre made him see violent inmates. 

“One day, one of them deliberately did something that would make us open the door of his jail, but because I knew he did it deliberately, I allowed the fire to almost consume him before calling for the door to be opened. I knew he was going to be angry and violent so I handcuffed him before allowing him out and even at that, he still wanted to attack me. I was prepared for him and teargassed him with pepper spray. He threatened to deal with me but he never had the opportunity.”

Adisa said he had encountered children of prominent Nigerians in jail.

“Drugs have finished their lives. I saw a boy whose father was Ogun State Governor. He is there and I am sure his parents are aware. They are probably lying to relatives that he is in school,” he said.

Mrs Ahmed works in a special correctional home for rapists and so on.

“Some of them have become suicidal. One inserted stick in his penis and urinating has become difficult for me. There is one whose penis has been cut off and urinating is painful. It is a home where you see things that will make you thank God for your life,” she said.

Beginning from the early 80s, Texas prisons population has been increasing. It plays a major part in America’s reputation as the biggest democracy that locks up the most people. 

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