staffing even the current prisons is difficult.Meanwhile, the Stiles Unit in Beaumont is making extra recruitment efforts, according to the Beaumont Journal, which offered this glowing description of a TDCJ guard's job:
The 1,300-inmate unit in Dalhart, among those constructed during a billion-dollar prison expansion in the 1990s, is operating with about two-thirds of its allocated staff.
Dalhart offered the department 1,500 acres of land as a lure to put the prison there. But now the pool of potential prison guards from the area's 7,000 residents has been exhausted.
"This is what our challenge is," Carol Johnston, the department's human resources director, said. "We have some units we could staff all day long. But talking those people into relocating 400 miles is not something most individuals have an interest in."
It's probably safe to say that everyone likes the idea of a career with great benefits, good pay, a secure future, and long weekends. Recruiters from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) believe they have just that kind of package and would like to tell you about itSounds pretty good, huh? Maybe a little too good. In Wichita Falls the Allred unit is looking for guards willing to work four 12 hour shifts in a row with three days a week off (those must be the "long weekends" they're talking about in Beaumont). But it isn't just state prisons - local jails can't find enough guards, either.
What's more, TDCJ basically has all the same problems as does the Texas Youth Commission, in this writer's opinion, except it hasn't suffered the same explosion of bad publicity ... yet. But it will only take a few more incidents like the woman recently found dead in her cell with her hands bound in the Hobby unit in Marlin to change that pretty quickly. Understaffing contributes directly to such safety problems.
There's no way to know yet whether Texas will build new prisons or not, but a recent actuarial analysis predicted they won't be necessary if legislative budget conferees fully funds a proposed treatment and prison diversion package. We'll find out sometime between now and Monday which route the Lege will take, but if they can't staff the current prisons, or keep them safe, it makes little sense to me to build new ones.