7 from sect adjust to life behind bars

FLDS men treated just like others in prison

San Angelo Standard-Times, Texas/August 6, 2011

San Angelo, Texas -- Keith Dutson Jr.'s day begins much like the roughly 1,400 inmates with whom he's housed.

At the Wallace Unit in Colorado City — 70 miles north of San Angelo — breakfast is served starting at 3:30 a.m.For the majority of inmates, the workday begins 2½ hours later. Some head to the laundry room, others to the maintenance building to repair machinery or to the unit's garment factory.Dutson, the seventh member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to be convicted of either sexual assault of a child or bigamy, reports to the cafeteria serving line.

No special accommodations are made for the men, who have cellmates and hold jobs.

"They're treated just like any other inmate would be treated," said Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Dutson and six other FLDS men are serving time in Texas prisons after a series of trials or plea agreements in Tom Green and Schleicher counties.

In 2008, the men were indicted on criminal counts as an outcome of the April raid on the FLDS-owned ranch in Schleicher County. The raid resulted in the largest child-removal in Texas history, with more than 400 children taken from the ranch.

Dutson — along with Raymond Merril Jessop, Allan Eugene Keate, Michael George Emack, Merril Leroy Jessop, Lehi Barlow Jeffs and Abram Harker Jeffs — are all general population inmates, Clark said.

"Every offender who is physically capable shall have a job in the prison system," Clark said in an email. "Offenders are not paid for their work, but offenders may earn privileges as a result of good work habits. Offenders are also able to learn job skills that can help them find employment when they are released from prison."

If someone refuses to work, they stay in their cell the full day — no trips to the day room, commissary or recreation yard.

FLDS members are scattered through seven institutions in six Texas cities, including Cuero, Childress and Huntsville.

Weekends are set aside for visitation, but inmates can correspond through mail at any time. Inmates can list up to 10 people on their visitation sheet. Anyone not listed doesn't make it inside the prison.

TDCJ declined to comment on whether or not the sect members receive or make phone calls or have had visits.

When inmates come into the system, they first go to an intake unit where they undergo the classification process, Clark said. From there, they might go to a transfer facility, then on to their assigned unit.

Richard Wathen, warden of the Wallace and Ware units and the San Angelo work camp, said the men get 20 minutes to eat — the first lunch shift is served at 10 a.m.

Dutson is a counter attendant who works an "evening" shift. Dinner is served at 3 p.m.

Trustees' duties are assigned based on what type of security risk they pose, Wathen said.

The majority of the prison population have jobs dealing with cooking, cleaning, laundry and maintenance.

Dutson was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine in June 2010. According to the TDCJ website, Dutson has a projected release date of October 2016, but he becomes eligible for parole three years sooner.

Sexual assault of a child is an offense that requires offenders to serve at least 50 percent of their prison sentence without consideration of any good conduct time. The charge is considered a second-degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years in prison.

According to Texas law enacted in 2006, sexual assault of a child is a first-degree felony if "the victim was a person whom the actor was prohibited from marrying or purporting to marry or with whom the actor was prohibited from living under the appearance of being married."

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