Wednesday, July 25, 2007

TDCJ guard killed in car crash after working mandatory overtime

Did a Texas Department of Criminal Justice policy cost a prison guard his life when he fell asleep at the wheel on the way home from a mandatory overtime shift? This tragic news from The Back Gate shows the potential human costs to employees and the community from understaffing Texas prisons:
Officer Roy Cole was well liked by his co-workers, and even his supervisors on the Wayne Scott unit in Brazoria county. Many had great things to say about the father of one son, who leaves behind a pregnant wife. And yet through the grief many are experiencing, there remains unanswered questions.

Officer Cole, was working his day of mandatory overtime on the Scott unit that night, and he put in four extra hours per unit mandate. The Wayne Scott unit, which is like alot of TDCJ facilities, remains chronically understaffed due to the agencies ongoing staffing shortages that now top 2,800 officers.

The Backgate has learned that over a years time, there have been many more of these incidents that may be attributed towards the current staffing shortage that plagues TDCJ. Due to the shortage, officers are mandated by unit administration to work either on their off time, or after their original shifts, sometimes at a moments notice, or be subjected to disciplinary action.

Officer Cole was confirmed to be working after his original shift ended on the night he died as he drove back home some distance away from the unit.

This tragic event brings up once again the horrendous circumstances within TDCJ where officers are threatened with disciplinary action if they refuse to stay over to fill open positions on the units (emphasis added). Some employees, being single mothers, or fathers, have encountered child care issues that have forced them to quit, or be disciplined after they have had to refuse to stay over at a moments notice.

"These issues have been ongoing for years " stated one Huntsville administrator. That same administrator went on to say that even though most don't agree with the current overtime implementation plan, there seems to be no end in sight. "When Category one positions are in jeopardy of being unmanned, we have no choice" he went on to say.

Category one positions are those positions that are mandated to be manned on the units by the TDCJ staffing plans. Inmate housing areas are amoung them.

The Back Gate is right this event leaves unanswered several critical questions: How frequently had Officer Cole worked overtime recently, and did TDCJ's mandatory overtime policy contribute to his death? Are there other, similar incidents of which TDCJ is aware? Will the mandatory overtime policy change, now, or will anything be done differently to prevent this from happening again?

TDCJ's understaffing problems are longstanding and chronic, yet the Legislature plans to build many more new prison beds when there aren't enough guards for the ones we've got. Overtime should be a temporary staffing solution, not just how the agency does business. Given current trends, though, look for more understaffing and demands for COs to work overtime at TDCJ.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wait.. this will be TYC in a few months!

Anonymous said...

TYC has for the past year worked all of their staff on overtime shifts. 12 hour shifts have become more frequent over the past 4 months and will continue to get worse.

The majority of the staff that work for TYC commute 30 to 60 miles one way and this will happen unfortunately. TYC has had staff run off the road and wrecked their vehicles over the past year based upon overtime issues but thankfully no fatalities.

Nothing has changed and nothing will change. We just need to keep this officers wife, kids and family in our prayers.

Anonymous said...

That's why Livingston got such a big pay raise. He manages the agency so well. (NOT)!

the Mickey's said...

What is one to do when the laws and government are'nt doing their job? It's up to the citizens to enforce.

The Future is Prison !

Anonymous said...

This is why all TDCJ officers should go out and vote this next election. If Warren Chisum thinks TDCJ officers love working overtime, maybe TDCJ officers should vote him out of office.
TDCJ could use an ex-politician to work 12-16 hours on a hot cell block.

Anonymous said...

This is so disheartening. TDCJ/TYC - the management style imposed by our elected officials upon these two agencies is flat immoral. Here in Texas we are so proud that we are tough on criminals - but we ignore the fact that we are even tougher on the very people at the bottom of the food chain who are responsible for the day-to-day supervision of the lock-ups. Low pay and terrible working conditions lead to high turnover which leads to even worse working conditions as COs and JCOs are forced to work involuntary overtime. All because we want to be tough on crime, but we want to do it on the cheap.

The recently mandated 1:12 ratio in TYC was supposed to make things better. But the lege actually cut the TYC budget! Now TYC staff are working more overtime than ever in order to meet the mandated 1:12 ratio. The TDCJ geniuses in charge of TYC are moving all the girls to one of the largest of the TYC institutions, even though the total population of girls in TYC will only fill a little over half the bed-space. Meanwhile, places like Giddings and Crockett are close to their original capacity, even though they are critically short of staff. The case in Crockett is exacerbated by the fact that Crockett has an Mental Health Treatment Program, which is nowhere near full, and a General Population program which is way over population and growing. So they have MHTP dorms with empty beds, and General Population dorms which are over-crowded. Welcome to the wonderful world of the caring, high-paid managers of TDCJ.

Greg Jones said...

I know zilch about Texas law, but it seems the family might have a workers-compensation claim, or maybe a wrongful-death suit, against the TDCJ. The only way to stop this kind of practice is to make it more expensive than the alternative.

Anonymous said...

grits, just so I can be very clear and not put words in your mouth, is it your position that TDCJ's mandatory overtime policy contributed to this tragedy?

Thanks, RoAN

Gritsforbreakfast said...

RoAN - That was the position of the guard blogging at The Back Gate. I don't know to a certainty, which is why I posed it as a question. My instincts tell me the policy probably did contribute, but liability is a question for the courts and I don't have all the facts. Still, mandatory overtime is a bad way to routinely fill understaffed slots, and coupled with rural facility locations that require long commutes, requiring 12-16 hour shifts arguably creates a greater risk of this happening.

I also think that current policies and pressure to build more prisons will cause guard shortages to worsen and require more overtime from TDCJ employees in the near future, so to the extent TDCJ policy contributed to this outcome it could become a more serious issue in the coming years.

Hope that adequately explains what I meant.

Anonymous said...

The state could probably solve its overtime problem if it did what private industry does - pay overtime as it is earned. Then they would have people volunteering for overtime. As it is, the state, at least at TDCJ and TYC, creates an overtime "bank" into which overtime accruals go. The employee may then draw leave time from this bank. Theoretically, this meets the requirements of Federal FLSA. However, when an employee takes leave, he/she must first take leave from the OT "Bank". This means that the employee continues to accrue annual leave until he/she exceeds the maximum accrued annual leave allowed. Once the employee exceeds the max annual leave allowed, the accrual rolls into the employee's sick leave account. This means that if the employee leaves state employment prior to being eligible for retirement, all that leave is lost. Follow that process back and you will see that the employees are essentially working overtime for nothing! (Technically this is not true, since if they stay long enough to retire, they get credit for the time on their retirement.) Is that complicated enough for you all? To the average employee this translates into working mandatory overtime for no compensation at all, since annual leave is a benefit, not a right according to the law. Nice way the lawyers in the legislature have managed to get around the FSLA to get free labor from state employees!

Anonymous said...

anon 7:21, could you possibly put that into a numbers example? I'm very confused with your explanation, sorry. Left side/right side thing. :-)

RoAN

Anonymous said...

grits, I'm glad I asked because I would have put words in your mouth, so there.

BTW, mandatory overtime is a routine business model in many industries and it works well, both for the employee and the employer.

RoAN

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Just out of curiosity, RoAN, what words would you have put into my mouth? For the most part I posed "unanswered questions." I didn't say I knew the answers.

Mandatory overtime may "work well" in some environments, but prison guards have a tougher and more dangerous job than most, and a 12-16 hour day with up to an hour commute each direction, to my mind, does pose risks for employees.

If your comments were meant to imply that the status quo is acceptable regarding prison staffing, we'll have to disagree, especially with all the new prison building planned. To my mind, Texas prisons already are dangerously understaffed, and this incident simply raises another potential danger that understaffing can create. best,

Anonymous said...

grits, my comments were not meant to imply anything other than straight up what I said. Prison guards do have a tough job but no tougher than many other jobs or industries.

I don't know what should be done with the guard to prisoner ratio. I really want to understand what anon 7:21 wrote about overtime. Do you?

I would have said that you think overtime caused the wreck because of the way you posed the question, the fact that you linked to it in the first place and your comments here. So I thought I'd get clarification.

The whole personal responsibility thing, ya know?

RoAN

Gritsforbreakfast said...

RoAN, do you think it inconceivable the mandatory overtime DID contribute to the wreck? I don't.

And I am aware of what 7:21 is talking about. What happens as I understand it is they're not PAID overtime, they're given extra days off, supposedly, except that often they're denied requests for time off because of understaffing. Then if you quit before you retire, you lose the days, don't get paid for them, and it basically means you worked that extra time for nothing.

And you're off base to play the personal responsibility card here, IMO. People working these jobs aren't paid well and if they all just quit (which in many cases might well be the most responsible decision for themselves and their families) rather than endure extra hardships to work in the corrections industry ... well ... let's just say you think you have a crime problem NOW!

Finally, mandatory overtime is a routine business model in CYCLICAL businesses! Unless you have reason to believe the number of prisoners will decline anytime soon, I still think it's a poor staffing model for TDCJ. best,

Anonymous said...

RoAn, Here's a simplification of what I posted earlier. State employees can only accrue a certain maximum amount of untaken annual leave. The amount is dependent upon longevity of service. Say you have a maximum annual leave accrual of 240 hours. Say you are unable to take any annual leave and your accrual goes up to 280 hours. At the end of the fiscal year 40 hours will be transferred to your sick leave balance. If you leave state employment short of retirement, you lose all your accrued sick leave. Now to overtime. The state does not normally pay overtime. If you work overtime, you are credited with time and a half into an overtime leave balance account. The problem is that you have to exhaust your overtime accrual before you can draw on your annual leave. COs and JCOs only rarely get approved time off for leave. So, if they have a large overtime balance, they rarely if ever get to draw down on their annual leave accrual. Thus, they work the overtime for nothing - the state gets free labor. This is legal, but totally unethical, since the courts have ruled that annual leave and sick leave are benefits, not rights. Overtime pay is a right guaranteed by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The very fact that this is so complicated is why the state is able to get away with it. This is way beyond the comprehension of the average voter. The lawyers who are our elected representatives count on that fact. Senator Whitmire is the chief architect of this policy as Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

RoAN, believe it or not the overtime deal was a recent management decision by Ed Owens and Company (before he brought all the TDCJ staff over to TYC) that screwed staff really hard. I blogged about it here when it was announced. I assure you I'd be pretty bitter about mandatory overtime under those circumstances, irrespective of the IMO significant safety concerns. I wonder how much you'd be willing to put in without extra pay before you said enough?! best,

Anonymous said...

Well...I'll just have to take you guys' word for it and say that SUCKS.

RoAN

Anonymous said...

Now that I've said that sucks, let me show you how little I know about TDCJ jobs. Do they now have a union or the ability to form one? Not sure on that. I'm one of the few right of aryan nation guys you'll find that support unions.

Also, let the market take care of it. Quit the jobs. Seriously. Most industries have a shortage of workers, see the immigration arguments. Employment is at an all time high. There are jobs available. Quit.

Then, TDCJ will have to address the issue. Free market economics work. If you use them.

RoAN

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Then, TDCJ will have to address the issue."

I wish I thought so. I might have agreed with you before the 2003 budget cuts. Watching that debacle/travesty, though, it became apparent that at least the current leadership is willing to starve agencies out well beyond reason or sound management.

That's why I like Jerry Madden and I cut John Whitmire more slack than many commenters on this blog - those two at least treat criminal justice with the gravitas it deserves, especially given the "public safety" rhetoric in campaigns. But I don't currently have confidence any of the state's top leadership - especially the triumvirate - remotely have guard overtime on their radar screens. They're too busy playing to the crowd and bragging about having passed Jessica's Law, and for most pols, from both parties, that's their entire criminal justice policy. (/rant)

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with a good rant now and then (I'm sure you consider most of my posts rants!).

One piece is missing in your rant though. I said quit. Just quit. If that happens, you will see the TDCJ respond immediately. As well as the politicians.

Which is worse for a politician? Spending money or releasing criminals?

RoAN

Gritsforbreakfast said...

They're releasing dangerous criminals now, RoAN, to make room for low-level offenders! You just blame the criminals instead of the pols - you know, because of the personal responsibility thing! As long as they can point to the latest bad offender like the triple homicide in Connecticut and tell the public "Be afraid, you could be next," most people just listen to the rhetoric and blame the wrong people for the bad outcomes. It's ironic, but politically the pols can play that game both ways - that's why it works so well. best,

Anonymous said...

"most people just listen to the rhetoric and blame the wrong people for the bad outcomes."

Now there's the grits I've come to love. No, no, no, don't blame the criminal! It the politicians fault! Wait, no, it's society's fault! Wait, no, it's the church's fault!

Just don't ever, ever, blame the criminal.

RoAN

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Please read carefully, RoAN. And try to focus on what I say instead of reading your own prejudices into my prose. I said it's both - in fact I said we should free up space so those who commit more serious crimes can be punished more harshly. (Remember the killer LST complained was being considered for parole?) But if you refuse to ever accept that government policy plays a role, it's hard to discuss what practical solutions might be pursued to fix those problems. I know it's fun to wag your finger at everybody you find less virtuous than yourself - e.g., the 10% of Texans with outstanding arrest warrants. Beyond using these fact bites for political gain, though, they also represent actual, practical problems that must be handled by SOMEBODY in the real world, and it's those people with whom this blog attempts to facilitate a conversation.

Criticisms with no solutions don't help. The crooks are in prison at the mercy of government decisions - either the parole board or a judge - so government policy matters, however much you'd like to deride the idea that anybody but the perp plays a role. They do, but there's more to the story than that.

BTW, did you ever see my own crime prevention proposals from last fall? Check them out along with the jail overcrowding series before making too many assumptions about what I think about some of these things. I don't mind defending the things I write, but I can't really defend against stereotypes that don't represent what I actually believe. best,

Anonymous said...

RoAn,

The bottom line is what are you willing to pay for as a taxpayer? What is the most cost-effective way of combating criminal activity? The current approach of lock them all up puts a tremendous burden on the State budget which the taxpayers are not willing to support. So what is the current answer - get free labor from the guards. You are not paying for that, they are. You asked me for specific figures and I gave you some. Here are some more: an new state employee earns 7 hours of annual leave a month = 84 hours per year. (2 weeks + 4 hours). They can carry a maximum of twice that, plus 40 hours = 208 hours. So, after 2.5 years of employment that new employee will have reached the maximum accrual if they are not able to take annual leave. Anything over 208 hours will go to that employee's sick leave balance at the end of the fiscal year. If that same employee works just 2 12hr shifts a week, that employee will work 418 hours of overtime per year. At the federally mandated OT rate of time and a half, that equals 624 hours accrual. If and when the employee is granted leave, he/she has to draw from whatever OT has accrued before they can draw from their annual leave account. I do not know about TDCJ, but currently TYC is paying down the employees' accrual to 120 hours at the end of the fiscal year. That's a nice check in October, butt that still leaves the employee with 120 hours of unpaid overtime each year. The annual never gets used, so it is lost. That is a lot of money. Now multiply that out by all the COs and JCOs working for those two agencies, and you, the taxpayer, are getting one heck of a lot of free labor at the expense of these already low-paid state employees. So, lets just lock up more people and get more free labor! Is any of this sinking in about who is really getting punished?

Anonymous said...

By the way, RoAn. I am not a CO or JCO. I do work for TYC and I am eligible for retirement, so I am not being screwed like these folks are. My sick leave balance will roll into my retirement. Think, however, about the young person in his or her 20's or 30's who is trying to support a family - retirement is a long way off for them. If the state would pay out overtime as it is earned, (as is done in the private sector) most of these folks would be lining up to volunteer for overtime. (I know, I used to supervise line workers for a large manufacturing concern.) If the state did that, RoAn, you (and I) would have to pay much higher taxes. For you, justice means punishing criminals. For me, justice is compensating workers fairly. If you like Old Testament justice so much, read Amos. Old Salty

Anonymous said...

So what is the current answer - get free labor from the guards.

Anon 6:01, did you not read what I said?

Quit. That is the answer. Unionize. gasp

Ya want change? Change. Don't spin hot air.

RoAN

Anonymous said...

Criticisms with no solutions don't help.

Over and over again, I give you specific solutions. But they do not agree with your paradigm.

What do you want I should say? Empty the prisons on a forgiveness day (as you recommended earlier, BTW)?

If I thought that was the best course, I'd recommend it. I don't. You took responsibility for raising your child. Why don't you expect that of others?

RoAN

Anonymous said...

RoAn,
You are a lost cause. My original post is 7:21. You asked for a numbers example and I tried to explain it in a couple of posts. Your answer? Quit or unionize. Let me say again, I am not a CO or a JCO, I am an FLSA exempt employee, and I am eligible to retire. I am not speaking for myself. You are harping on some point about punishing criminals, but you seem clueless about the plight of the COs and JCOs that have to work all that overtime because your only solution is to lock 'em all up.

This whole thing started with comments about the tragic death of a young CO who had been working lots of mandatory overtime. At the TYC facility where I currently work, JCO staff are routinely working 2 to 3 mandatory overtime days per week. A lot of them take your advice every month - they quit. The mandatory overtime is a root cause of the tremendously high turnover in TYC. Is this benefiting our society? Is this helping to rehabilitate youth? Is this really making a dent in juvenile crime? But you can feel good, because we are punishing them! Old Salty

Anonymous said...

Well Grits, i see you have a real debate going on here. We reported on the story initially. And we think YES, it was a situation created by TDCj that contributed to the officers death. And YES, he was forced to stay to work ovetime.

The thing here is, this is not the first incident of this happening to staff. Many more have been killed on the roads leaving the units after working overtime. It is just seldom reported officially as such.

Like what we said in the article, TDCJ is close to 3,000 officers short once again, as they were 2 years ago. The officers TDCJ does have are so burned out by all the extra work, poor supervision, and overtime, they get sick more, and have to use sick days as the vacation or holiday days they are not approved to take due to the shortages.

And after the Sunset Commission findings on TDCJ/and influence from the ledge, TDCJ DOES pay overtime as it is earned. The first couple of OT is directed as comp time, but the rest is paid monthly. But they do everything they can to manipulate the time as so we dont get it.And it was never announced to staff that it resumed.

Now, alot of CO's love to work it, but the majority have families to go home to, or other circumstances such as single parents.

They ask for volunteers, but as the the units are so short, its hard to find anyone that hasnt just left from work within the last 8 hrs., or already worked thier 2 days out of thier 3 off. So usually the supervisors go down a list and say " ok, you , you and you have to stay." and that happens about 10 minutes before quitting time.

It's all a numbers game. Alot of the extra areas inthe prisons are not being staffed at all. Inmates are allowed a craft shop area to paint, craft lether, wood, etc. if they are not trouble makers. Those areas are just one of several not operation as per TDCJ policy due to staffing shortages.

Only the main, highly sensitive areas can be manned on some days. And at times, there are not either. Sometimes areas where officers are assigned to a dorm that has 200 inmates assigned. There are supposed to be 2 officers assigned, but staffing only will allow 1 to be there. Is that safe for staff, or inmates?

Overtime is not the answer. Pay, quality and recruiting are. If the average stocker at walmart can pull 10.00 an hour working in the A/C, why is the high school grad gonna want to come to work for TDCJ starting at $ 10.00 , in the heat/cold, getting piss thrown on them every day?

There have been TDCJ academy classes where recruits were fired for being full street gang members themselves.Tattoos and all. They are hiring wackos that threaten suicide in our outside perimeter towers. Where all the guns are. Some actually do it...

Well.. ya'll got me going, and there is alot to tell. It seems that it's getting worse, and its not that easy to just jump ship. Some have retirements on the line.

-www.thebackgate.com

Anonymous said...

A lot of them take your advice every month - they quit.

Good. That is the only way they can make TDCJ address the situation.

Not sure why you went off on me. I'm saying that the employees need to do the one thing that they can do to force change - quit.

RoAN

Anonymous said...

If the average stocker at walmart can pull 10.00 an hour working in the A/C, why is the high school grad gonna want to come to work for TDCJ starting at $ 10.00 , in the heat/cold, getting piss thrown on them every day?

Once again, the solution. Free market. Quit and go work at Walmart. TDCJ will be forced to pay more and provide better working conditions. Why is this so hard to understand?

Also, no one ever answered my question: is there a union and if not, are they (the guards) eligible to organize?

RoAN

Gritsforbreakfast said...

First RoAN, I was apparently flat out wrong about the overtime. The Back Gaters would know - I'm glad to hear that got changed during Sunset.

But I simply have to disagree with you that it's "good" lots of COs are quitting (actually the number is about 500/month!). It makes prisons less safe for inmates, staff and the communities around them, and thanks to understaffing programs, makes prisoners more dangerous when they get out.

They do have a union, AFSCME, but they just don't do much for them, for whatever reason. And of course, govt workers can't strike, their unions mostly just work elections and lobby (and for cops, defend members against disciplinary actions).

I think the reason, RoAN, you get the hostile feedback is that most COs think of themselves as doing something more important and public-spirited than working at the WalMart, so when Warren Chisum says they have an easy job or self-avowed conservatives tell them they should take "personal responsibility" for the crap flung at them, it can be angering. Sure they could quit, but SOMEBODY has to do the job. Many see this as a life-long career; there are quite a few second generation COs and I think even some third generation folks out there. Telling them "Just quit and work at the WalMart" is as offensive for those folks as telling a soldier who complains they have no body armor in Iraq - "Well , you shouldn't have enlisted, don't re-up if you don't like it."

Also, for now don't assume TDCJ or the political leadership will HAVE to respond in any rational way to any stimulus - they were already a sinking ship before all the management fled to TYC, there's no chance to change the budget until 2009, and it's doubtful these things could be fixed even then. Plus we're scheduled to build three new prisons we can't staff! (But I know, that's the criminals' fault.)

Gov. Perry vetoed some contract bed spending this year because the budget would have increased total institutional (i.e., actual prison) costs 10% - he did so in the name of fiscal restraint, he said. But to fully staff prisons and pay guards an adequate wage, I think we'd actually increase Texas prison costs by (a back of the envelope guess) 50% or more before we build a single new bed. No kidding!

So when you hear frustration at the "tuff it out or leave" line, that's where it's coming from. It sounds good politically but leads to irrational consequences that harm public safety. And nobody knows it better than a prison guard - they live the conflict every day. best,

Anonymous said...

gritsy, that's why I love you man, thanks for the thoughtful comment.

RoAN

Anonymous said...

Police unions have some political clout because there are police officers in every county and municipality in the state. That represents a heck of a lot of votes. TYC and TDCJ units tend to be clustered in a few rural locations, mainly because the pay is so low, they have to be placed where there is little competition for labor. How many corrections officers vote in Sen. Whitmire's district? That is why the union that represents correctional officers is a joke. They have no political clout.

Anonymous said...

dang grits... we elect you our rep. in the ledge. Reaaly, just like he said. TDCJ officer unions have no clout in the ledge. Texas is not like California, they strike, and get better wages, etc.

We cant. We have to grin and take it year after year. If your paying union dues, its for the newsletter, thats all.

TDCJ employees are famous for not voting. And thats one reason the website was established, to encourage people to act for themselves and stop bitching.

These days, TDCj employees are for the most part new people. Approx. 70% of CO's have less than 5 yrs now. The older guys that had to take the test , and pass background with weight and height requirements are now leaving fast.

You have to have 2 yrs exp. here to apply for a sergeant job, and most supv. are experienced under 5 yrs. as well. No one that has been here any legth of time is in thier right mind to apply for the $50 a month pay raise.

Our website is here to tell the general public there is a problem with TDCJ. For employees, and inmates. And its in the taxpayers, and legislative hands.

I feel for TYC, for you guys have inheritied a bunch of our no good administrators. They ran TDCJ into the dirt, but the governor see fit to put them over at TYC to implode them as well.

makes you wanna say hummmm,.....

www.thebackgate.com

Anonymous said...

Iam happy to hear that TDCJ is now paying OT as it is earned. That is a small step in the right direction. But it is, as some of the backgate posters have implied, just a bandaid.

TYC has yet to even get that bandaid. TYC JCOs are only paid for overtime that exceeds 120 hours. And, they are only paid down once a quarter.

The bigger problem is that JCO staff, (and this is probably true of COs as well), cannot be assured of being able to take decent blocks of scheduled vacation time. They get a day here and two days there. That is really tough on people who are raising a family.

As an exempt, administrative employee, I have never been able to take all of my earned vacation; but I have at least been able to schedule blocks of a week or more at a time. COs and JCOs cannot even do that. Old Salty

Anonymous said...

Grits,
You made a comment earlier that OT is a standard practice in cyclical industries. That is so true. Manufacturing industries will often find it cost-effective to work OT to meet a surge, such as end of the month billings. If, however, production demand rises significantly and stays high, they create more positions. If they cannot fill the open positions because of the labor market, they raise wages to make the positions more competitive. That is the free-market model.

Employment in the public sector is different. The lege meets every two years and divies up the budget pie. Included is a decision on where to set stage wages. Prisons and youth facilities are place in rural areas because the wage-base in those areas is lower. When the wages paid no longer meet market demands, vacancies cannot be filled with qualified individuals. So, the agencies hire whomever is willing to work for those low wages. Since many of these folks are not the most employable individuals in the first place, it creates a revolving door. Meanwhile the long-term, more dedicated employees have to make up the difference. Old Salty

Anonymous said...

The state legislator does not understand the current overtime policy. TDCJ tells them they are paying overtime. The problem is when officers work a 40 hour week, TDCJ does not compensate them for anything, not even regular time for the first 3 hours over 40 hours. This is because the Fair Labor Standards Act allows the state to work correctional officers 171 hours in a 28 day cycle, before overtime is paid. The state issues comp time, instead of money for the first 3 hours. If you do not use the comp time within a year, it is lost. Since TDCJ is over 4,000 officers short, and yes the number is over 4,000, not 3,000, the state does not have the staff to allow officers to take the time off.

TDCJ over the years has gone from bad to worse. The problem is not with TDCJ’s union AFSCME, the problem is Austin does not listen to the voice of the TDCJ employees. If Austin would have listened to the TDCJ and TYC employees years ago, TDCJ and TYC would not be having these problems. AFSCME for years has been calling for increased standards. These increased standards would require the state to pay for qualified applicants. The state would rather hire psychos.

For years TDCJ and TYC have been hiring lots of psycho’s, instead of qualified criminal justice professions. TDCJ and TYC by law do not have to apply the standards TCLEOSE (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education) requires for all other criminal justice agencies in Texas. For starters psychological test is required for all peace officers in Texas. TDCJ and TYC could have screened their applicants to weed out the psycho’s for less money then they spent on the drug test. The average cost of administrating the standard Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventor is under $10 per applicant. The MMPI test is the standard testing most criminal justice agencies use for screening applicants.

TDCJ and TYC do not understand the difference between a criminal background check and a background check. Experienced investigators and not HR people should conduct a background investigation on applicants. The solution to TDCJ’s and TYC’s problems is called STANDARDS. The agencies lack them in their hiring and promotional process. These agencies need to stop hiring psycho’s to abuse children and inmates. Rick Perry and the legislator need to put an end the good old boy system of promotions and coverups. The mismanagement of these agencies will cost tax payers more in the long run. WAKE UP TEXAS, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!!!!!!!!!!!!! a corrupt broken down system that is costing us more.......

Anonymous said...

Prison trustees who are trustworthy enough to drive trucks outside prison walls are not being considered for parole. Could it be that TDCJ likes cheap labor as much as private corporations that turn a blind eye to the millions of illegals they hire every year? Maybe the trustees should unionize since they are being denied parole! Not that money can compensate for loss of one's freedom. Better yet, maybe TDCJ trustees should all sign onto attorney Norman L. Sirak's lawsuit against the TDCJ parole board?

Anonymous said...

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