Montgomery County Jail, Conroe, Texas
Ramiro was held pretrial for two years and eight months for a nonviolent drug charge. He experienced racial discrimination, lack of food, and poor conditions. Refusing to take a plea deal but having to rely on a court-appointed attorney, Ramiro eventually was sentenced by a judge to 99 years in prison.
I am a Hispanic man who has been held in Montgomery County Jail since February 2013. My bail was set at $1,00,000; when I requested a bail reduction it was raised to $1,500,000.
I have a major concern with sanitation. Every toilet here is connected with one on the other side of the wall. And it will always come back to the other side. I mean, we come into the day room & our toilet is full of the stuff from the other side. And the dayroom smells really bad and there is where we have to eat.
The food is not enough. You can tell some trays have a lot more food than others.
And here is what I don’t understand about this place. Basically, it is divided. One side is where you have the people who shine shoe and get a chance to work. On that side you have a washer and dryer, carpeting, and an open door to the rec[reation] yard. Your food is brought to you hot. You have a nice visitation room with lot of space. Now on the other side, where I am, your food is always cold. We only get rec at most three times a week and if you go to the law library or medical or to see your lawyer or get a haircut, you won’t get rec.
They told me that any time anyone tells me something or gives me an order, that’s the rule. Even if the officer told me one thing and the rule book says another.
I am in the process of submitting grievances. I wrote a grievance and filed an appeal. I told them to give me a response. It’s been 3 weeks with no response. In the past the same officer who signed one of my grievances, signed my appeal. It’s been 3 weeks with no response. I have told the grievance officer about him not answering my grievances. He always tells me that he does.
My truck, which was supposed to be in evidence, was sold under the name of Montgomery County without my consent or any kind of confiscation paper or ruling by a judge giving the county permission to sell it. The worst part is that in that van was my livelihood: all my tools, including about $1,500 worth of towing bars. The contents of the van would have showed that what I have stated all along is true: I buy cars for a living and export them to Mexico or sell them down south. $4,800 is also missing from my truck.
I am trying to gather all this information because I plan to continue this fight until the end. It’s bad how Hispanics and Blacks are racially discriminated against by the court system. This county has a very bad good old boy network. I am trying to file a lawsuit on all my property. I will not plead to anything I didn’t do.
I told my court-appointed lawyer that the video used as evidence against me had been altered or tampered with: it had no time stamp and the events on the video didn’t look right. But my lawyer did not say one word in court. When we got to court nobody knew how to play the video. They spent almost an hour looking for something to play the video with. And when it’s our turn to present, the judge says we only have 20 minutes to question the witnesses and put me on the stand. I only had about 5 minutes on the stand. And my lawyer didn’t request more time. I fired him for being ineffective. I asked to defend myself, and asked for time to go to the law library, and the judge said no, that he couldn’t let me do that. I mean, the proof is here. I just need to get help to prove that the officers altered and tampered with the evidence.
I have a friend who sends me a couple of bucks once in a while. But I use that for hygiene and stamps. I have lost almost 40 pounds since I came in here.
When I was about to go to trial my case got moved from the original court to a probate judge, who does civil law and misdemeanor cases. I mean, I had a 1st degree felony charge, with possible sentences of up to life, and my case goes to a judge that does not even do felonies?
I lost and was given 99 years.