ONE LAST CHANCE
Mainstream entertainment sports manifest behind bars as cut-throat global enterprises. Douglas Dean Jones, a non-violent offender has spent half of his life in ‘the system’, where football season has been his head of steam.
By self-proclamation, Jones is a “die-hard Dallas Cowboys and University of Texas Longhorns fan”, – in essence – per se a ‘hard-time’ supporter that’s seen both teams’ vast majority of glories from inside the concrete jungles that are the numerous jails and prisons of the Lone Star State.
Not only is the gridiron competition at the apex of the gambling arena for lock-up facilities worldwide, additionally Texas spearheads the nation in prisoners – according to the U.S. Almanac – approximately 150,000 are immured in “the WILD WILD WEST” eclipsing California, Florida and Michigan. These high numbers make for even greater returns every fall as perennial hustlers fashion fortunes from every pigskin pay day.
“There’s no tellin’ how much money…” Jones pauses, pensively; “I’ve made thousands of thousands of dollars over decades of runnin’ shotguns, 25-square boards, pick-ems and parlays.”
On a larger, maximum security unit like French Robertson (3500-4500 inmates, Abilene, TX) thousands of dollars in commissary is wagered every weekend (commissary is jail and prison currency that inmates purchase food, clothing, hygiene necessities and other sundries from monetary installments deposited on their accounts – or “books”) “Plus people in the ‘world’ gamble against each other for us,” Jones adds, referring to the bets placed through non-incarcerated intermediaries that then and if triumphant, put the winning sums of cash back on inmates ‘books’.
‘Booger Red’ is the acclamation other inmates that know him best call Jones, who stands 5 ft 7 inches tall with an athletic build. He’s short in statue but lofty and courageous in spirit – given the circumstances he’s dealt with over time and still faces.
“I want people to know that I take full accountability for my actions,” Jones expresses, somber and serious at the same time…
“I hit my rock-bottom in November,” he continues, referring to being booked in to the Taylor County Jail at the end of last year on drug charges. Substance abuse, he says, has been his Achilles heel throughout his lifetime. “All my charges are direct results of the poor choices I’ve made when I was using,” Jones emphasizes his non-violent and solely-self-destructive reflection of a criminal record.
The 54 year old has spent 27 years of his life locked away, all for addiction-fueled crimes, his record extends no further than a pair of burglaries he committed in the eighties while under the influence of banned stimulants.
Doug’s magnanimous character and incisive attitude have preserved him in the penitentiary and also provided him an exquisite knack to operate the underground platforms for profit in prison every football season.
“I’ve made three hundred dollars in a single day before, running a ‘pick-em’.” A ‘pick-em’ is a four to ten game format where anywhere from one to five dollars is bet on selecting presumptuously the eventual winner of every game on the pick list, utilizing a point spread. (The professional betting line that Vegas and the ESPN/USA Today outlets adhere to is followed to avoid any discrepancies) All ties favor the bookie and point spreads are even. Meanwhile a parlay is a pick from all teams featured using half points always and inmates can buy in using their knowledge and ability for one dollar.
While a virtuosity is indeed required to effectively and consistently generate income through participation on either side of the spectrum, other wager arrangements need no knowledge or skill and a basic buy-in can benefit by bona fide luck alone.
Shotguns and 25-square boards require no insight for the games or teams and parameters involved: a participant purchases a square for anywhere from a postage stamp, a soup, fifty cents or a dollar, and if the numbers align accordingly at the end of each quarter or contest, payouts per period and per square can prove astronomical. The numbers are pulled at random prior to the contest using dominoes and each player is assigned a number on the board prior to the start of the game; at the end of each time period the last two numbers of each teams’ points total for the game are added together to determine the lucky number that wins. Therefore if the final score is 21-14, the four and the one are totaled and the individual that drew square no. five would collect however much value was accumulated for the assembly as formatted.
Booger can give an extemporaneous break down of any game, player or gambling platform at any given point in time, but what has solidified his legacy behind bars throughout and during the countless exchanges he’s codified and conducted over tenures is a sense of ethical professionalism – even in spite of the stigmas cast as society’s dark abyss.
“I never played on any of the pick-ems parlays or boards I made and I stopped gambling all together a long-time ago,” Jones says referring to what he devotedly hopes – and prays – to be a much more fulfilling pursuit than a return to the penitentiary.
“I’m not even close to the same person I was in November, I’ve turned my life over to Christ.”
Jones is currently on parole and awaiting another court date where and at which times all his own bets are ambitiously placed in a rehabilitation program, deferred probation and – well – a final opportunity.
“I want to make it very clear I have the upmost respect and understanding for the position of the judge, the State and all the attorneys involved in my legal proceedings,” says Jones making his closing remarks regarding his trials and tribulations both then and now.
“I just only hope that they give me one last chance.”
*** Editor’s Note (Story written by Jack Walker as told by Douglas Dean Jones, an inmate in the Taylor County Jail in Abilene, Texas. Jones appreciates any mail and visits to encourage him along his journey for a last chance and his walk with Christ.)
Douglas Dean Jones
DOB (09/22/65) SO#31847
910 South 27th St.
Abilene, TX 79602