UPDATE – The family of Brandy Sherman, the woman killed in a crash involving an inmate, has started a petition against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. They want to end the program that allows offenders to drive state owned vehicles on public roadways. “It is a privilege to drive, and you lose that privilege when you commit a crime and you go to prison,” said Heidi Shaw, Brandy’s sister.
Heidi created the petition in her sister’s name after learning Huntsville inmate Venson Williams was driving the TDCJ 18-wheeler that struck her sister’s car. DPS says Williams was driving west on Highway 7 just east of Marlin when he attempted to pass a slower vehicle in a ‘no passing’ zone. The semi hit Brandy’s car head-on. “I felt anger, rage, sadness. I mean she’s just so young and vibrant,” said Heidi.
“There is no reason she should be gone so soon.” Shortly after learning the driver that caused the Texas trucking accident was an inmate, Heidi started the petition. In just hours she had more than 80 signatures. “We will get a lot more,” she said. “If I have to go knock on the Governor’s door, I will. I don’t mind. I will get this changed for my sister.” Williams has prior convictions and is now serving time for credit card abuse and theft.
During his 2009 incarceration he drove for TDCJ, and he continued to drive 18-wheelers after his release. He was again allowed to drive during his current sentence. “Venson was last evaluated on January 4th and was given a satisfactory rating which is the highest possible grade,” TDCJ Spokesman Jason Clark said in a statement. TDCJ says they have allowed offenders to drive for decades. “Offenders need job skills in order to successfully reintegrate back into society,” said Clark. “Truck driving is a profession that offenders once released can gain employment.”