Prison System: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division- Prisons, Region VI
Status: Active, opened in 1980; ACA accredited since 2007
Offender Gender: Female
Security Level: G1-G5, Transient, Outside Trusty, Developmentally Disabled, Substance Abuse
Distinguishing Feature: The Christina Melton Crain Unit is the largest women’s prison in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Capacity: 2,115 inmates / Unit: 1,498; Boot Camp: 8 SAFP: 288; Trusty Camp: 321
Employees: 711 total employees; 549 security
The Crain Unit is the largest women’s prison in Texas. Beginning as a work farm, the Crain Unit still employs inmates in day-to-day agricultural operations.
Many of the Crain Unit’s inmates are low-to-medium security inmates, many of whom work as trusties or are otherwise able to leave the property to work in supervised work crews, but the prison can house any non-death row inmate. It also serves as the central processing unit for female inmates in Texas, functioning as an intake center and as the point of release for most female inmates in the State of Texas. The prison also houses special populations, including inmates with developmental disabilities and inmates in need of substance abuse treatment.
The Crain Unit is divided into several distinct smaller units, which each have a particular purpose. The Reception Center processes new female arrivals to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and houses a boot camp program. In addition to serving as a reception center for incoming female inmates, the Crain Unit also serves as the exit processing center; the majority of female prisoners in Texas are released from the Crain Unit. The Valley Unit is set aside for other special populations, including pregnant inmates, elderly inmates, and inmates with mental retardation. While Crain houses pregnant inmates, inmates are sent to the Hospital Galveston Unit, which is approximately five hours away from Crain, to give birth.
Most of the inmates live in dormitories, and the inmates in the trustee camp have an open dormitory. Inmates are expected to work in prison jobs, with a work day that is seven hours long. The type of jobs that inmates can have depends on multiple factors, including their security designation and where in the prison they are housed. Trustees work in prisoner and guard beauty shops, food service for the prison, transportation and landscaping. Women housed in the Valley Unit may work as beauty operators, clerks, cooks, kitchen workers, and as landscapers. General population inmates may work on prison maintenance or on the farm, which includes painting and repairing buildings, maintaining equipment, or working in the field. Inmates receive a small hourly wage for their work. Those inmates who cannot work are allowed to make crafts, which they can sell for commissary money.
Living conditions at the Crain Unit are characterized by being very mundane and drab. Women’s prisons are traditionally more supportive and less dangerous than men’s prisons, and the Crain Unit fulfills that stereotype. While sexual relationships between prisoners are prohibited, they are not uncommon.
There is a wide variety of prison programming available at the prison, both for inmates in the general population and for inmates in special populations. The prison has a developmental disabilities program, a special alternative incarceration program, and a special needs substance abuse felony punishment facility. The prison has several educational programs, including: adult basic education, GED, Changes/ Pre-Release, Cognitive Intervention, parenting, business computer information systems II, construction carpentry, restaurant management, and vocational training from Central Texas College Vocational in office administration and culinary arts/hospitality. The prison also has a faith based dormitory, a Texas Urban Ministry Institute dormitory, an adult education program, peer education, patriot paws, reentry planning, chaplaincy services, community tours, and the Go Kids Initiative. The inmates can participate in community works projects. The facility also has several volunteer initiatives including: literacy/education, substance abuse education, mentoring, life skills, arts/crafts, parent training, support groups, victims awareness, religious/ faith based studies and activities, and the women’s storybook project.
The Crain Unit shares agricultural operations with the Hilltop, Hughes, Mountain View, and Murray Units. Together, these units: produce edible and field crops; run a swine finishing operation; handle regional pest control; care for security horses; care for security pack canines; and run a farm shop.
The Crain Unit developed out of the Gatesville Unit, which was formed on part of the property for the former Gatesville State School. Historically, the Gatesville Unit was a work farm, but agricultural operations were limited. In 2008, the Gatesville Unit was renamed after the first female chairperson of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, Christina Melton Crain.
Because it is a processing center for many of the female inmates in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, a number of infamous prisoners have lived at the Crain Unit. Susan Wright, who was convicted of murder for stabbing and killing her husband, despite her allegations that the stabbing was in self-defense after a history of spousal abuse, is serving her sentence at the Crain Unit. Yolanda Saldivar, who murdered the Tejano music singer Selena, was processed through the Crain Unit.
Purchase Commissary Items for an Inmate Friends and family can purchase up to $60 in commissary items every quarter for offenders through this program. They can choose from up to 100 of the top selling items in the commissary, and the on-line amount purchased does not reduce an offender’s ability to spend money from their inmate trust fund accounts on commissary items.
Year Built or Opened: 1980 Warden or Supervisor: Warden Kelli Forrester Daily Inmate Count: 1,646 Total Capacity: 2,115 Security Level(s): Low - Medium
Inmate Name and Inmate ID
Christina Melton Crain Unit (GV)
1401 State School Road
Gatesville, TX 76599-2999
Fax Number: 254-865-8024
1401 State School Road
Gatesville, TX 76599-2999