Texas prison officials plan to cancel contracts to house up to 1,900 state convicts in county lockups because the number of inmates in state prisons has fallen.I'd wondered recently whether TDCJ would achieve significant prison population reduction by the end of FY 09 in August as estimated (pdf) by the Legislative Budget Board, and this news makes me think those estimates may have been pretty accurate.
Michelle Lyons, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, told the Austin American-Statesman that officials plan to move the convicts now housed in county lockups back into state prisons by the end of August. Lawmakers, who directed the move, anticipated the population decline and did not appropriate $28 million to continue leasing the contract beds.
The decrease in state inmates — part of a national trend — coincides with an increase in correctional officers at the state’s 112 adult prisons. The vacancy rate for prison guards has dropped to about 5 percent, the lowest in more than a decade for a state that has long had a shortage of prison guards.
Texas has just 1,262 correctional officer jobs now open, compared with more than 3,700 just over a year ago. Officials say more people have become guards because of pay incentives and the struggling economy.
"It’s the economy. No doubt about it," said state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston. "When there’s not many choices for employment, and the oil patch slows down, these prison jobs start looking real good."
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Fewer prisoners, more guards at TDCJ
According to AP: