Thursday, November 20, 2008

Corrupt guards still smuggling phones onto death row

Two more cell phones were found on Texas death row Tuesday. Can their be any doubt the Polunsky Unit has a serious, continuing problem with corrupt guards on its staff?

UPDATE: And another one.

19 comments:

FleaStiff said...

No, I do not doubt for a moment that the primary source of smuggling in prisons is the prison staff and that visiting family members and visiting attorneys provide rather miniscule contributions to the problem. So what else is new?

sunray's wench said...

Anywhere else on the planet, if this happened, the Warden would be held accountable and would probably lose his job (and I dont mean get a promotion to Regional Director), the supervisors would have to answer some pretty tough questions in order to save their jobs, and almost certainly the guards (I cant dignify them with the title Correctional Officers right now) responsible - because it would be obviously to anyone with half a brain cell who they were - would be standing in line for their Social Security pay by the end of the week. The media would be naming and shaming them, politicians would be falling over themsleves to be the ones who could 'clean up' the mess.

Gee Toto, I guess we're in Texas after all.

Anonymous said...

It is quite alarming to see the TX media doing such a pathetic job on these stories, not one of them has so far exposee the big picture, the facts. These people are the instruments of political propaganda. It's incredible that nobody has yet noted or mentioned that there was NO cell phones at the Polusnky Unit prior to Warden Simmons arriving there...Politicians are not interested in exposing the truth. The cell phone issue has been totally blown out of proportion. TX has a prison population of 155000 and over the last 3 years around 800 cell phones have been confiscated, so around 235/year. In California, the Solano State prison confiscted 600 cell phones in 2007 and that's just for one unit. Maryland, with a prison population of 22700, confiscated 800 cell phones last year. This "massive and widespread" problem in Texas is far from being widespread. If TX had a phone system for the prisoners and decent mailrooms doing their job, the problem would be even much smaller. The current Whitmire show is a farce and not a funny one.

susan said...

I cannot believe that TDCJ didn't kmow a long time ago about contraband. They've been busy enough handing out punishment over a can of dip. And when pushed on the subject they've attributed it to visitors and attorneys. There are effective ways to stop contraband. Patting down visitors and correctional officers and taking off one's shoes is a reaction not a solution.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the Allan Polunsky Unit of TDCJ in Livinston is named after a close relative of Allan Polunsky who is the chairman of the Texas Public Safety Commission, or is the same person.

(I am still researching the Polunsky pipeline in Texas politics.)

Anonymous said...

Nevermind,

"Mr. Polunsky has served on the TPSC since 2007, and becomes the first
person to serve as Chairman of both the TPSC and the Texas Board of Criminal
Justice, the state's top two law enforcement agencies. He previously served
five years as Chairman of the TBCJ."

What does this real estate attorney know about criminal justice or public safety?

Deb said...

11:34--check out the Statesman getting warm:
http://www.statesman.com/opinion/content/editorial/stories/11/20/1120cellphones_edit.html

Anonymous said...

Instead of being proactive, The State of Texas is taking a reactive approach to the cell phone issue. THE PROBLEM IS IN THE HIRING PROCESS. Just about anyone without a criminal record can be hired with TDCJ, it doesn't matter if the person is a slime ball or not, so long as they do not have felony convictions they can be hired. Texas needs to develope the same type of standards they have for peace officers and apply them to correctional officers, both TDCJ and TYC.

Michael said...

Have you ever wondered why hiring standards aren't higher? Perhaps it's because, wait for it, they don't pay enough! Maybe, just maybe, since the pay is so terrible to work an incredibly stressful, uncomfortable, dangerous job, people who would satisfy "higher standards" aren't lining up to be TDCJ COs! Could it be? I wonder what "higher standards" without concomitant "higher pay" would do for TDCJs already epic staffing shortage?

FleaStiff said...

I don't know if any sudden increase in wages would alter the nature of the job or the nature of the persons attracted to such work. I am sure the higher wages would be enjoyed but tend to think that it would probably result in the smuggling of more cell phones and more expensive cell phones.

Anonymous said...

Why does it have to officers? Maintenance, medical, dental, commissary, clerks, mailroom, all these departments have contact with offenders and they get paid even less than correctional staff.
I believe there are some staff that are corrupt but we must look at everyone who has some sort of contact with offenders, especially visitors and children. If there are CO's that that doing this then supervisors need to start doing some changes in their roster and start assigning Co's to different posts and see what kind of contraband turns up. More money, better training, age limit should be 25years old, not 18, better benefits and twice yearly shooting and defensive tactics training. Trainers are so paranoid about getting someone hurt the training is of no use. TDCJ will have more problems if something is not done soon.

Anonymous said...

You can fool some of the people, some of the time and apparently all of the Texans all of the time.

This sudden contraband "issue" is a smoke and mirrors, look over there parlor trick. As was pointed out, the percentage of cell phones in TDCJ is relatively low. Not to invalidate the serious nature of contraband in prison, but it is small change compared to the real issues.
Prison, especially in Texas, is a multi billion dollar a year business. Why do you think the head of TDCJ is an accountant, not a criminal justice professional. TDCJ relies on having low level workers to keep low level criminal activities in the spotlight. Funny how these people are never prosecuted and often rehired. This allows the many good ole boys enjoying the huge profits from prison slave labor, tax payer revenue and dirty business deals, to go unquestioned. The is all the way from Huntsville to Austin. The Texas media is quick to jump on sensational stories of anal smuggling, but don't investigate the governor, lege, and TDCJ administration thoroughly. The citizens of Texas are currently victims of the biggest scam in history: the Texas Criminal Justice system. Just my opinion.

sunray's wench said...

anon@ 7.19 ~ you could blame visitors for the phones on DR if DR inmates had contact visits. They dont.

Why are people blaming the guards? Because it's the guards who are supposed to shakedown the cells properly, and strip-search the inmates properly, and find items of contraband before they become a danger. It's obviously not happening at Polunsky.

The mailroom staff do not hand out the mail, guards do that. Guards are supposed to escort DR inmates everywhere, including to medical. DR inmates do not work and only have very limited time outside their cells.

That's why the buck stops with the guards when contraband gets onto DR.

At other units it's not so simple, because inmates have more movement, some have contact visits, and most work. Please dont think anyone is blaming ALL COs, I dont think anyone (except perhaps Gov Perry) is doing that. But at Polunsky unit, how could it really be anyone else?

niste said...

How we ever hope to stop foreign street drugs entering the country when haltinging cell phones entry into a prison is an impossible task?!?

Anonymous said...

If they would fire several top TDCJ officials, this would stop. Who is on the take, here? Our officials at their best.

Anonymous said...

TDCJ needs to take a cue from the billionaires who run Texas---hire illegal aliens as guards. The public will pay taxes that cover their anchor babies, dialysis and heart bypass operations and the women and men who own everything will make more millions off the cheap labor. Since Texas has been unable, and more importantly unwilling, to stop millions of illegals from crossing back and forth the border at will, it stands to reason that a few cell phones might be able to sneak into the prison system. More fine examples of cowboy stupidity in Tex-ass.

Anonymous said...

for strters Texas needs to make death row guards and top TDCJ leadership pass a lifestyle polygraph examination in order to keep their jobs.

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