Love Bears All Things- Woodman State Jail To Fort Worth To Travis State Jail To Ferguson Unit…
For months now, I’ve been coordinating with Lloyd regarding a wedding at Linda Woodman State Jail. The bride had listed herself as informally married to another inmate which prevented Lloyd from being granted permission to marry at Linda Woodman State Jail.
A few folks “trolling” Texas Twins Events are shocked to see TDCJ Weddings as one of our event options. For those shaking their heads, we have a new site specifically for TDCJ Clients who now compromise over half of all of our bookings. Here’s the link– Texas Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham.
Due to the numerous CLM issues, it was decided that Lloyd would wait until his brides release to marry in Fort Worth.
My schedule would be an issue since Units don’t give an exact date for release. Keeping my options open to meet Lloyd and his bride in Fort Worth, my usual timelines of travel to various Units as well as my commitments at venues that I’m on staff with has literally kept me hopping.
Between my family and work, life can sometimes be a carnival of chaos for not only me but also, my twin sister. Our phones never stop ringing. My sister is hilarious and has something to say about everything.
From traditional events to appraisal appointments and client meetings, my sister is always at my side except inside a Texas Prison. I go alone into Units with my clients while Cindy and other guests or family wait on my client and I to meet them after the ceremony. We are a Twin Team.
In fact, I created Texas Twins Events in order to spend more time with my family. Linda Woodman State Jail is one of many Units in Gatesville, Texas. Like Huntsville or Tennessee Colony, Gatesville is a virtual “city of Prisons.” We travel to Gatesville frequently. Our clients are often men marry my women in this small Texas town. Occasionally though, Gatesville clients can be women marrying women. Yes, I also Officiate same sex Prison Weddings in not only Gatesville but other Texas Prisons.
I walk into Prisons Monday through Friday to conduct prison weddings. This surprises many people. Traditionally, the event business is busiest on weekends. For me, business is seven days a week including holidays for “traditional clients.” There are no Prison Weddings scheduled on holidays.
Meeting TDCJ clients prior to the actual wedding is rare. I talk to them, text them, and email them but, rarely meet them in person unless of course, they live near Fort Worth.
“Traditional clients” usually meet me in person at a client meeting or the rehearsal. The variations are significant but other than actually meeting my “bride or groom on the outside” in person I often have either spoken to them several times or emailed them several times right up to wedding day.
I never speak to an inmate in any capacity until meeting them at a Unit. The “client” isn’t in prison. The client is on the outside. The client works closely with me throughout the process and at no time do I speak or correspond with an inmate prior to the wedding.
A few people noticed right away that my Hughes Unit groom had been on a reality show (I’m a killer episode 4) and after recognizing him in a photo with me, decided to email about his history. I’m going to once again point out that I do not research or google inmates. I don’t want to know their past. My reasons for this are that I don’t google traditional clients either. Neither does Walmart or any other business. It’s not my concern that someone has made a mistake in their past. Because of this, I decided long ago not to screen anyone and keep my mind and my opinions open. A few readers were concern with my safety inside Texas Prisons. Don’t be. I have a number of guards with me as well as my client at ALL TIMES inside Units.
The truth is that I’m often in far more danger at a traditional event without security. On a number of occasions, events with open bars have resulted in arrests to rowdy guests and occasionally even the wedding party themselves. After one such incident in Dallas, I no longer work an event with a free flowing bar without security. There aren’t any drunks in a prison. There aren’t any old boyfriends or girlfriends starting trouble and disrupting my ceremony either. I like structure. I thrive on predictability. Prisons afford that. Traditional events do not. At a traditional event, there are a number of surprises that are almost always due to alcohol consumption. If this surprises you it shouldn’t. The general public is unpredictable. The Prison isn’t.
Pawning Planners Clients wishing to barter their Event Service must be within two hours of Fort Worth. This “option” is a courtesy to prospects who have no money but do have something of value their wish to trade in exchange for services. Travel takes a large portion of my time Monday through Friday to Texas Prisons. Because of this, traveling to appraise a trade is strictly limited. Only my twin sister and I pull the trigger on a trade. The rest of my family work in numerous capacities for me but do not barter their services. Why? Because bartered items often must be refurbished then flipped. Cindy and I are experienced appraisers and regularly “flip items.” Flips are sold at Texas Twins Treasures.
Let’s say Cindy and I accepted a barter. We must transport it to our storeroom then refurbish it, take photos, list it and sell it in order to cover our event expenses. We deliver within two hours of Fort Worth for a fee. If s buyer is outside Fort Worth, the buyer is responsible for freight.
Bartering would never work if 1. You don’t know what you are doing. 2. You don’t have an outlet to sell items or 3. You can’t afford the investment of refurbishing items. Refurbishing items is expensive.
If you sell items “as is” you are bargain selling and will never make a profit. If you make a mistake appraising the item, you will lose money flipping it. We know what we are doing and that’s the actual “key to successfully bartering.” A lot of people ask me about bartering having no real idea why the option exists. The option is in place because if you come to us “because we help people,” expecting us to be volunteers, we needed a way to find some sort of consideration. Since I’ve had Texas Twins Treasures since 2009, Cindy and I were more than a little familiar with flipping items. We help people but, people have to help us. Our reputation for helping people had us dealing with others claiming to have no money for years. To solve the problem, I merged Texas Twins Events and Texas Twins Treasures to create The Pawning Planners. Bartering Prison wedding services is rare but, it’s happened. Estes Unit is 45 minutes from my home as is Hutchins State Jail and a few other Units.
Marrying an inmate isn’t an easy decision. All expenses, travel, visits and phone calls add up. The person on the outside is a warrior of sorts. They are often highly educated and articulate. My TDCJ clients are eloquent. They are passionate and they are determined to make their marriage work. They know going in that there will be challenges. They accept these challenges. Love bears all things.
Five TDCJ Units are located in this small Texas town. TDCJ Crain Unit, TDCJ Hughes Unit, TDCJ Hilltop Unit, TDCJ Mountainview Unit & TDCJ Woodman Unit are all located within a few miles of one another.
Gatesville Units now house women who were initially located in Huntsville, Texas. The women’s Units were moved to Gatesville years ago. Most all of the clients who hire me to Officiate and plan Prison Weddings in Gatesville are men. This surprises people but, not ONLY women marry inmates.
The Huntsville or “Walls Unit” has housed a few fairly well known people including “Dog” Duane Chapman. The “Walls Unit” is also well known throughout Texas as most Huntsville Units are. For more information on Huntsville Walls Unit, visit this link– Walls Unit Huntsville, Texas.
I’ve had numerous questions regarding State Jails versus Prisons. Texas State Jails ARE Prison Units although the name “State Jail” confuses many people.
TDCJ operates all State Jails and most Texas Prisons. However, there are a handful of privately owned Texas Prisons rounding out the numbers.
Privately owned Units also allow inmate weddings but, follow the beat of their own drum regarding photos. While many State operated TDCJ Units allow Prison wedding photos for $3 each, privately owned Units don’t always offer photos. Please be aware of this.
Let’s first examine why State Jails aren’t called Prisons. State Jails in Texas. Unlike county jails where inmates may still be awaiting trial or arraignment, everybody in a state jail is there because they were convicted of a crime and sentenced to be there.
A state jail is essentially a minimum security prison for people convicted of non-violent crimes.
A state jail facility is really not a jail. It is actually a minimum security prison facility, although it is not officially called that.
There is no one in a state jail facility who is awaiting trial, like in a county jail. Everyone in TDCJ custody is convicted, and serving a sentence.
County jails are not under Texas Department Of Criminal Justice. Since people confuse jail and/or prison. Let’s revisit the differences one more time.
There are significant differences. You cannot “bond out of prison.” You can “bond out of” jail. Not a State Jail though. You can only “bond out of” a county jail. Confusing right?
A jail is a secure facility that houses three main types of inmates:
People who have been arrested and are being held pending a plea agreement, trial, or sentencing;
People who have been convicted of a misdemeanor criminal offense and are serving a sentence of (typically) less than 1 year; and
People who have been sentenced to prison and are about to be transferred to another facility.
Jails are operated by a county or city government. Jails are also known as detention facilities. Lockups are facilities in smaller communities where one to a few arrestees can be held for a short time pending transfer to a nearby jail/detention center.
A lot of new detainees are delivered to jails daily. Some may stay less than one day or only for a few days, until they are okayed for release in a court proceeding.
Some are released after putting up bail, are released to a pretrial services caseload, are placed under supervision by a probation agency, or are released on their own recognizance with an agreement to appear in court.
A considerable number of people arriving at a jail are actively or recently drunk or high, arrive with injuries from fights/assaults that led to their arrest, and/or are mentally ill with no other place for law enforcement to deliver them. This makes the intake process challenging for the jail’s staff and its medical personnel.
Let’s go over a Prison now.
A prison is a secure facility that houses people who have been convicted of a felony criminal offense and are serving a sentence of (typically) 1 year or more.
Prisons are operated by a state government or the federal government. “Penitentiary” is a synonym for prison.
The number of sentenced inmates entering prisons each day is far less than the number of people delivered at the door of U.S. jails. People who are going to prison know it in advance.
They may be transferred from a jail, taken to prison from court after a conviction, or report to prison on a date set by the court.
People released from prison may be released to parole supervision or to some other type of community program. Or they may be released with no supervision at all, if they have served their full term in prison.
Officiating and/or Planning a Texas Prison Wedding REQUIRES a Texas Department Of Criminal Justice Approved Officiant. Not just “anyone” can walk into a Texas Prison and conduct a marriage ceremony.
In a county jail, any Officiant authorized to conduct a marriage ceremony can conduct a ceremony.
What is an Informal Marriage Affidavit? Here’s the link– Informal Marriage Affidavit Texas.
The ONLY differences between an Informal or Formal Marriage is the ceremony or marriage license. An Informal Marriage “skips” the marriage license and ceremony by replacing them with an Affidavit of Informal Marriage. Once filed though just like a marriage license, an Informal Marriage Affidavit bears the same weight of a legally binding marriage.
There are strict guidelines pertaining to prison inmate marriages. From purchasing the marriage license to what to wear and when to arrive, there aren’t any “loose rules.”
There are also issues of either an inmate or the person on the outside signing an Informal Marriage Affidavit without realizing that if filed at a county courthouse, requires a divorce to dissolve.
Please DO NOT sign an Informal Marriage Affidavit SOLELY to gain contact visits. These documents bear weight.
If an Informal Marriage Affidavit is signed inside a Texas Prison, TDCJ observes this notarized document as making an inmate Common Law Married. Because of this, if an inmate is deemed CLM inside a Texas Prison, there won’t be a wedding to anyone other than the person listed on the Informal Marriage Affidavit.
I’m going to once again advise anyone “just signing a piece of paper to gain contact visits” that a document requiring a notary isn’t “just a piece of paper.”
Be aware that any time a document needs a notary seal that you should most likely put more thought into what you are signing. If you’ve signed something without realizing the weight the document bears, it’s in your best interest to file a Corrective Affidavit.
If you have other questions, comments or concerns, feel free to email me. This blog is to clarify 1. Why the marriage at Woodman State Jail couldn’t take place due to a CLM status. 2. Explain the variations of jail Vs prison. 3. Discuss why all of my TDCJ Clients aren’t female. 4. Explain why protocol isn’t an option and is a requirement at a Texas Prison Wedding. 5. Revisit why prison or inmate marriage is a lengthy process that can take up to 3 months before receiving permission to marry. 6. Discuss the variations of what an Informal Marriage Affidavit actually is. Whether Formal (with a ceremony) or Informal, once a marriage license or Affidavit is filed at a county courthouse, the ceremony or lack thereof is LEGALLY BINDING.
“A fall into the pit, a gain in whit.”