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Whether they die in one of the state’s 109 prison units, at the TDCJ hospital in Galveston, or at the prison system’s hospice facility near Palestine, the inmate’s family has the option to claim the body and make funeral arrangements of their choice.When family members can’t be located, or when they decline to claim the body, the state picks up the tab for the funeral and buries the body in TDCJ’s Byrd Cemetery.A dozen people gather next to open graves beneath the loblolly pines to attend the funerals of two men they never met.The only splashes of color on this gray Thursday are the pallbearers’ yellow prison-issue rain slickers.“Fellas,” Collier says to the eight slicker-clad inmates before him, “we gather to bury this man, who was a Christian.He passed away at the hospital in Galveston.” He reads the man’s name and age from his notes.The funeral party is waiting for two bodies and one family to arrive from nearby Grace Baptist Church, where a visitation was held.
Some, like the family that attended today’s visitation at Grace Baptist Church, will decline to claim the body but then attend services in Huntsville. He estimates that 60 percent of the services he performs are directs. Other families can’t afford to travel to Huntsville.
Ambulatory medical, dental, and mental health services.