This week we learn of a death row inmate who'd taken a picture of himself with a cell phone and had it posted online. This after an inmate last year used a smuggled gun to escape from a TDCJ medical transport - a mystery they still can't solve.
Perhaps Sen. Whitmire should be thankful that the inmate who notoriously contacted him by phone in 2008 didn't send him sexting photos!
I'd don't care what title is in front of your name - Governor, Senator, TDCJ Executive Director, or for that matter, POTUS - announcing a "zero tolerance" policy on prison contraband sets up the person using that language to later be accused of gargantuan failure, as in the case of the escapee with a gun more than a year into TDCJ's zero-tolerance era. As long as prisons have existed in human history, contraband has been smuggled into them.
Similarly, what's needed at TDCJ, in addition to existing on-the-ground tactics for finding contraband, are separate management-level systems (with authority to require policy improvements) to evaluate each failure and adjust tactics to combat each new smuggling method identified. New incidents should be viewed not necessarily as a failure that requires punishing agency officials (unless it turns out TDCJ staff were directly culpable and violated the law), but as an opportunity to learn and adjust over time in a formal, systematic way. In other words, what's needed is a process, not a slogan; a system, not just an attitude.