smith unit

Exploring the Preston E. Smith Unit: A Maximum Security Prison in Lamesa, Texas

In the vast and diverse landscape of Texas, the Preston E. Smith Unit stands as a formidable institution, a maximum security prison that plays a crucial role in the state’s correctional system. Situated in Lamesa, Texas, within Dawson County, this facility is much more than just a place of confinement; it’s a complex institution with various facets aimed at rehabilitation and security. In this article, we’ll delve into the depths of the Smith Unit, exploring its purpose, programs, and how it operates.

Smith Unit: A Fortress of Maximum Security

Location and Capacity

The Smith Unit is strategically located in Lamesa, Texas, covering an extensive area of 563 acres. It is designed to house up to 2,234 male inmates. The inmates at Smith Unit span the spectrum from G1 minimum to G5 maximum security classifications. Security here is paramount, evident from the multiple razor wire fences, armed guard towers, roving patrols, and electronic sensors that secure the facility.

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Education and Rehabilitation

One of the primary goals of the Smith Unit is to provide inmates with opportunities for self-improvement and education. Inmates here have access to a range of programs, including substance abuse education, literacy courses, adult basic education classes, and the opportunity to earn a GED. These educational opportunities are essential in helping inmates acquire the skills they need for a successful reintegration into society.

Vocational Training

Beyond education, the Smith Unit offers vocational training programs that equip inmates with valuable skills. These programs include millwork and cabinetmaking, plumbing, electrical work, and even horticulture classes provided by Western Texas College. These skills not only enable inmates to find employment post-release but also serve as a form of therapy and personal development.

Life Skills and Pre-release Programs

In addition to formal education and vocational training, the Smith Unit offers courses in life skills and arts/crafts. One notable program is “CHANGES,” a pre-release course aimed at preparing inmates who are nearing the end of their sentence or parole date. CHANGES focuses on teaching essential life skills and decision-making abilities, crucial for a successful reintegration into society.

Inmate Labor and Facility Maintenance

Supervised Labor Force

Select inmates at the Smith Unit have the opportunity to participate in supervised labor, supporting local government agencies. This not only provides inmates with a sense of responsibility but also aids in their reintegration into society by developing a strong work ethic.

On-site Mattress Factory

The Smith Unit houses an on-site mattress factory where inmates can work and gain valuable manufacturing skills. This serves as an excellent opportunity for them to learn a trade that can be beneficial upon release.

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Facility Maintenance

Inmates also contribute to the upkeep of the facility itself, ensuring that the Smith Unit remains safe and secure. This includes various tasks, from routine maintenance to more specialized roles.

Visitation and Contact Information

Visiting Hours

For loved ones of inmates, visiting hours are an important aspect of maintaining connections. At the Smith Unit, visitation is allowed from 8 am to 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. However, inmates in the Expansion Cell-block have visitation by appointment only, and visitors must schedule in advance. Each offender is limited to a single two-hour visit per weekend, with no more than two adults allowed at a time. Children under 16 do not count against this number.

Special Visits

In certain situations, special visits are permitted. If a visitor is traveling from a significant distance (more than 300 miles), they can submit a special visit request to the Warden’s office. If approved, a special visit can extend up to four hours in length, occurring on both Saturday and Sunday (four hours each day). It’s important to note that special visits are relatively rare and are typically approved only once or twice per year.

Visitor Guidelines

To ensure the safety and security of the facility, visitors are subject to certain guidelines. Visitors are allowed to bring a clear plastic bag containing no more than $20 in quarters for use in vending machines. However, it’s crucial to note that paper currency is strictly prohibited within the facility.

Contact Information

For individuals looking to get in touch with the Smith Unit or send mail to inmates, here is the essential contact information:

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Physical Address:

Smith Unit 1313 County Road 19 Lamesa, TX 79331



Inmate Mailing Address:

Inmate Name, TDCJ ID Number Smith Unit 1313 County Road 19 Lamesa, TX 79331


The Preston E. Smith Unit in Lamesa, Texas, is more than just a maximum security prison; it’s a multifaceted institution focused on rehabilitation and security. With its various educational and vocational programs, supervised labor force, and commitment to preparing inmates for life beyond incarceration, the Smith Unit plays a critical role in the Texas correctional system.

As we look beyond the imposing razor wire fences and guard towers, we see the potential for transformation and growth. The Smith Unit strives to provide inmates with the tools and skills they need to reintegrate into society successfully, ultimately contributing to safer communities.


1. How can I schedule a visit to the Smith Unit?

To schedule a visit to the Smith Unit, you must contact the facility in advance. Visitation hours are on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 am to 5 pm.

2. What educational programs are available to inmates at the Smith Unit?

Inmates at the Smith Unit have access to various educational programs, including substance abuse education, literacy courses, adult basic education classes, and the opportunity to earn a GED.

3. Can inmates at the Smith Unit participate in vocational training?

Yes, inmates can participate in vocational training programs such as millwork, cabinetmaking, plumbing, electrical work, and horticulture classes provided by Western Texas College.

4. What is the purpose of the CHANGES program at the Smith Unit?

The CHANGES program is a pre-release course designed to prepare inmates who are nearing the end of their sentence or parole date. It focuses on teaching essential life skills and decision-making abilities.

5. Are special visits allowed at the Smith Unit?

Yes, special visits are permitted for visitors traveling from a significant distance (more than 300 miles). These visits require approval from the Warden’s office and can extend up to four hours on both Saturday and Sunday.

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