Name: H. H. Coffield Unit
Prison System: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division- Prisons, Region II
Status: Active, opened in 1965.
Location: Anderson County, Texas
Address: 2661 FM 2054, Tennessee Colony, TX 75884
Inmate Name and Inmate ID
2661 FM 2054
Tennessee Colony, TX 75884
Phone Number: 903-928-2211; inmates cannot receive phone calls
Fax Number: 903-928-2006
Warden: Jeffrey Catoe
Offender Gender: Male
Security Level: Maximum; Texas custody levels G1-G5
Distinguishing Feature: The Coffield Unit is one part of a large prison complex in the unincorporated part of Anderson County. Together, the units work as a large agricultural operation, providing food for many of the inmates incarcerated in Texas prisons, as well as providing service to the local community.
Number of Inmates: 4,068
Maximum Capacity: 3,818 for the unit and 321 for the Trusty camp
Overview: When viewed in conjunction with the other prisons located at the same prison property, Coffield is a 20,528 acre prison farm, which makes it larger than Angola, the largest prison in the United States. Furthermore, if each of the distinct prisons on the property were treated as facilities in a single prison, the number of inmates would make it the largest prison, by population in the United States. However, while Coffield operates in cooperation with the Beto, Gurney, Michael, and Powledge units, they are run as distinctly different prisons.
The Coffield Unit is, in many ways, an old-fashioned prison farm with a significant emphasis on agriculture. The prisoners are responsible for farming produce, including grain that they then use to feed the animals grown on the property. Those animals include: cattle, poultry, and swine all raised for consumption by inmates. In addition, the farms support animals used for security by guards: security horses, which guards ride while observing the prisoners working on the farm, and security dogs, which are used to conduct sweeps for contraband in the prisons and also to detect prisoners who might attempt to escape.
Like other large prison farms that developed in the Deep South in the post-Civil War period, there are some troubling similarities between the appearance of the Coffield Unit and the appearance of an antebellum slave plantation. First, the prisoners are disproportionately people of color. Second, the prisoners put in an extreme amount of physical labor, working in the fields. While prisoners are paid for this labor, the pay rates are extremely small. On the other hand, the costs of incarceration are burdensome for taxpayers, and having self-sufficient prison systems helps reduce some of this burden.
Inmate Population: Because Coffield is a G1-G5 facility, the inmate composition is extremely varied. Some of the inmates are considered very low-risk and are allowed to work outside of the prison with very little supervision, while other inmates must live in cells and are not permitted to work outside of the security fence area without an armed guard’s supervision.
Living Conditions: Texas prisons are infamous for their sweltering heat in the summer; with few exceptions, the prisoner living areas are not air-conditioned. This is the case at Coffield. Moreover, the physical design of the building, which contains a number of glass windows, means that it operates much like a greenhouse in the summertime. While some of the windows do open, they are only the lowest ones, which means that any type of circulation is impossible. Furthermore, the concrete and metal structures get little relief from the heat at night, when the building materials release the heat that they have stored during the day. To escape some of the sweltering heat, inmates frequently break windows in the summer. Unfortunately, this means that efforts to heat the cell blocks in the winter are futile, and inmates have frequently reported having no heat, no extra clothing, and no blankets even on frigid winter nights. Inmates who work in the fields are issued long johns to wear during cold weather, so may fare better than inmates who have other work assignments.
The broken windows create other problems for the prisoners that are unrelated to temperature; they allow animals to come into the prison. As a result, the prisons are full of insects like mosquitoes and wasps, spiders, and larger animals including bats, mice, rats, and cats In fact, inmates report befriending and raising cats, whether in their cells or in the yards or prison grounds.
Living conditions are particularly harsh for inmates who live in administrative segregation. Many of these prisoners suffer from mental health problems, which former prisoners attribute to the living conditions for these “solitary confinement” prisoners. Prisoners in administrative segregation also have higher suicide rates than general population prisoners, despite the fact that they should have an even more difficult time accessing tools or weapons with which to commit self-harm. Even when prison guards are aware that an inmate is at risk, the security concerns of administrative segregation can make dealing with the prisoner very difficult. Normally, when administrative segregation inmates are removed from a cell, they are handcuffed, behind their back, before the cell is opened. If they will not submit to restraints, the they have to be forceably extracted from the cell, which often involves the use of gas, which also impacts prisoners in nearby cells.
Prison Programs: Prisoners who are not on administrative segregation can participate in a number of programs, including: substance abuse interventions, GED programs, cognitive intervention programs, career training programs, several faith-based programs, support groups, life skills training, and parenting training. Trinity Valley Community college provides vocational training for some of the prisoners. In addition, English-as-a-second-language courses are available.
Employees: 691 total employees; 533 security employees; 109 non-security employees
Production: The prison has several agricultural facilities and is the sight of a metal fabrication plant. Eligible prisoners can work at the factory or in agricultural production.
History: The H.H. Coffield Unit is named after former Chairman of the Texas Board of Corrections, Hubert Hardison Coffield. Along with George John Beto and Oscar B. Ellis, Coffield was considered a pioneer of the Texas prison system. The three men were heavily involved in all aspects of the prison process, and were known to go into the prisons and experience the prisoners’ living conditions and to fly across the state to address prison problems personally, rather than leaving the problems to the wardens or to the regional directors.
Famous Inmates: The Coffield Unit does not house any nationally famous residents.
Year Built or Opened: 1965 Warden or Supervisor: Jeffrey Catoe Daily Inmate Count: 4,068 Security Level(s): Maximum; Texas custody levels G1-G5
Inmate Name and Inmate ID Coffield Unit 2661 FM 2054 Tennessee Colony, TX 75884
Fax Number: 903-928-2006
2661 FM 2054, Tennessee Colony, TX 75884