But I did that for like three years on the units and then I became an escort.
I would escort them to bench trials, I mean, I mean, not bench trials, yeah, bench warrants, I meant bench warrants, and, and uh, to U.T.M.B. in Galveston, maybe Life Flight or maybe to see a, a foot doctor, what do you call them, you know, whatever.
RAYMOND: And Mr. Fincher, just because this is an oral history, for people who know nothing, a bench warrant and U.T.M.B., if you could explain these terms?
FINCHER: Oh, University of Texas Medical Branch.
It’s in Galveston. And, and what it is, is that it’s going to really kind of make you mad maybe. They would use, if they had a problem they would ship them down there and maybe stay for a while but they would also do like plastic surgery, they would also do like knee replacements but these are newly medical and they would have to sign consent forms.
Organ donations, things of that nature. You know.
But sometimes if it couldn’t be handled with what the facilities had, we would make a combinations and we’d have to outsource, you know, to, to, either if Huntsville hospital couldn’t handle it we’d have to take them either to Houston which they didn’t like, we’d take them to U.T.M.B. And the other one was what?
RAYMOND: A bench warrant?
FINCHER: Oh, that’s just them going back to county, whatever county.
There’s two hundred and fifty-four counties in the state, so whatever county they had to go back to, you know, it was like a bench, a bench warrant where they would have to go there and, and maybe testify or do an affidavit or, or whatever it was.
It was just part of the procedure of what they were doing. So, that’s—
RAYMOND: So you would accompany them.
FINCHER: Yes. Yes. Yeah.
RAYMOND: So, the regular, a more-or-less regular day, you feed people, you make sure that they have their showers, you bring them to or from recreation, is that right?
FINCHER: Medical appointments—
RAYMOND: Medical appointments.
FINCHER: Visitation, which is a whole another thing in itself. When I became, still on Death Row, I was the Death Row escort, we would take the inmates and of course strip search, that’s obvious, and we would bring him into an area where there was glass. You’ve seen the, the thing, the glass visitation, and we would have to stand there behind them.
Either they were, whatever classification they were, they either, either they were caged or they could sit on the regular things.
And the most, the most difficult thing was to see on the other side of the glass, was the families.
Children. Never be able to touch. Never be able to hug. Never be able to, you know, it was all mail or visitations, you know, and they were only allowed ten people on their visitation lists.
You know. And it was —mentally, psychologically, that, that really, that struck home, because if you’re a person, everything’s personal.
I mean, you can try to be machismo and be detached. Good luck with that. You know, because you’re going have to decompress some way.
You know, and it’s not that we were, it, the work, the way I perceived it, the work was not monotonous. I was not complacent. I was on edge all the time.
For that straight eight hours shift I was on edge.
And it really fried my, my nerves completely, you know.
But that was then. I’m better now.
RAYMOND: Were you trying to tell me?
HENERY: We’re at forty-nine so—
RAYMOND: Do you mind we're going to stop now and to change the tape--
Edgar Fincher worked as a correctional officer on the Ellis Unit (Death Row) in Walker County, TX from 1989 to 1994. He then went on to work for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) as an internal affairs investigator from 1994-1997 and with the State Jail Division from 1997-1999. In Tape 1, Fincher describes his childhood background; how he became involved with TDCJ; his early career as a correctional office in the Ellis Unit; and his experiences with trauma resulting from his work. In Tape 2, Fincher describes what a typical day working on death row was like. In Tape 3, Fincher elaborates on his work on the death row and the strain associate with it; displays materials and documents collected during his career; and describes his later career in TDCJ Internal Affairs and with the State Jail Division. In Tape 4, Fincher discusses the transition from correctional officer on death row to a career with Internal Affairs; discusses the issues that arise when working in a high risk job; describes his current career; shows materials collected during his career as a correctional officer; and describes experiences with inmates executed between 1989 and 1994. In Tape 5, Fincher describes his experience with inmates who were executed between 1989 and 1994 while he was working in the Ellis Unit. In Tape 6, Fincher gives his concluding statements about his work with TDCJ and his experiences working on death row. This interview took place on April 17, 2011 in Austin, TX.
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Edgar FincherRole: Narrator
Texas After Violence ProjectRole: Collaborator
Virginia RaymondRole: Interviewer
Celeste HeneryRole: Videographer
Mary O'GradyRole: Transcriber
Maurice ChammahRole: Proofreader
Emma McDanielRole: Proofreader
Emma McDanielRole: Writer of accompanying material
Texas After Violence Project
University of Texas Libraries
North America--United States--Texas
North America--United States--Texas--Austin
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