Media Policies and Guidelines for Inmate Interviews
- Reporters wishing to interview inmates incarcerated within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) should submit their request in writing, by fax or e-mail to Robert Hurst, Communications Officer, at (936) 437‑6055 or email@example.com.
- All requests must be submitted on the news organization's letterhead, and should include the reporter's name and contact information, including an e-mail address. The request should also include the inmate's name and other identifying information (date of birth, TDCJ number, etc.) when known.
- Communication between media representatives and inmates is permitted through JPay and traditional media mail. Telephone contact or interviews are prohibited.
- Interviews with general population inmates may be scheduled any weekday during regular business hours with the permission of the unit warden.
- Request for interviews must be submitted at least three working days prior to the date of the reporter’s desired visit. Reporters will have one hour to interview an individual inmate. A reasonable amount of time will be allowed for camera crews to set up equipment. This set-up time is not considered part of the hour granted to the reporter.
- Interviews with men on Death Row are conducted on Wednesdays from 1:00 p.m to 3:00 p.m. Requests for these interviews must be submitted no later than noon on Monday prior to the desired Wednesday visit.
- Reporters will have one hour to interview an individual inmate on Men’s Death Row. A reasonable amount of time will be allowed for camera crews to set up equipment. This set-up time is not considered part of the hour granted to the reporter.
- Interviews with women on Death Row are conducted on Tuesdays from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Requests for these interviews must be submitted no later than noon on the Monday prior to the desired Tuesday visit.
- Reporters will have one hour to interview an individual inmate on Women’s Death Row. A reasonable amount of time will be allowed for camera crews to set up equipment. This set-up time is not considered part of the hour granted to the reporter.
- All interviews will take place in the unit's regular visitation area. No other photos or video footage may be taken in or outside the unit unless specified by a Communications Officer, or the unit warden.
- Crews are limited to no more than three people. Each crewmember must have a valid driver license, passport or other official form of photo identification in order to enter a unit.
- Reporters are not allowed to take the following items with them into TDCJ units:
- Cellular phones
- Tobacco products or lighters
- Purses or briefcases
- Pocketknives, fingernail clippers, or similar items.
- The following items are allowed in the reporter’s possession: recording devices, wireless microphones, notepads, writing instruments, and camera equipment.
- It is recommended that reporters arrive at the unit at least 30 minutes before their scheduled interview time.
- Everyone entering the unit will be subjected to a pat-down security search.
- Conservative dress is encouraged for all visitors. Clothing that is tight fitting, revealing, or made with see-through fabrics is not allowed. Sleeveless shirts and dresses are allowed, but must cover the shoulders. Dresses or skirts should be no shorter than three (3) inches above the middle of the knee. It is also preferred that reporters and their crew members not wear white.
- Reporters are generally allowed to interview individual inmates once every 90 days. Exceptions may be made by the Director of Communications if there is a major status change in the inmate’s case.
- Attorneys, families, spiritual advisors, and other individuals on an inmate's personal visitation list are not permitted to be present during media interviews, nor are reporters able to accompany any of these individuals on their personal visits.
- Media representatives may not be listed on an inmate’s visitation or Offender Telephone System (OTS) list if they wish to be recognized as media by the Communications Department. Any journalist who is placed on an inmate’s personal visitation or OTS list will not be allowed to visit that inmate as a media representative. The organization affiliated with the reporter placed on the inmate’s personal visitation or OTS list may also not be able to visit the inmate.
Failure to adhere to the agency's media policies and/or guidelines may result in removal from the unit. Such failure may also jeopardize the organization’s ability to conduct future interviews at TDCJ facilities.
Questions about the TDCJ's media policies may be directed to the Communications Department at (936) 437‑6052.