Irked over access


Difficulty gaining interview access to Angel Maturino Resendiz, the media-friendly Railcar Killer, has left some Spanish-language TV news outlets wondering if the Texas prison system has an English-language bias. Deanna Landron, assignment editor at Univision's KXLN(TV) Houston, said that, following a letter requesting an interview, the death-row inmate wrote back saying he was not allowed to talk to Univision.

Meanwhile, Landron said, weeks went by without a reply from the usually cooperative Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Other complaints from Mexico-based journalists and U.S.-based Spanish-language outlets brought activists from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) into the matter, contacting state and federal officials.

Prison officials said they resented notions of discrimination and insisted there has been confusion over their policy. That policy first grants no interviews while a new prisoner adjusts, and then favors interview requests from Texas media, he said, accommodating the prisoner's constitutional rights to grant interviews as best the system can. "The non-Texas media-and then some Texas-based media-who besieged us with requests for interviews did not know," said corrections spokesman Glen Castlebury, "and then failed to grasp and understand the long-standing policy that an inmate first goes through a period of adjustment-dictated by his warden." Then, he said, the media turned the system's Texas priority into an "English-speaking priority. I have never been accused of [participating in] a racist operation in my life. I take offense. This ain't racism; this is mathematics."

LULAC remains unconvinced and may ask the state legislature for a non-discriminatory policy. When all was said and done, though, Resendiz, who apparently favors Spanish-speaking media, was allowed to give his first six interviews, scheduled through this week, to Mexico- and U.S.-based Spanish-language media, including the Univsion network and its Houston and San Antonio stations.