Friday, June 11, 2010

TDCJ finds spare money during budget crunch for drug testing employees

My only question about this latest move by TDCJ: "What will you cut in the budget to pay for drug testing employees?" Mike Ward reports in the Statesman today that:

In a push to bolster security and curb contraband in Texas' massive prison system, officials for the first time plan to order random drug tests for a majority of the state's 41,000 corrections employees including all guards and parole officers.

Bryan Collier, deputy director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said Thursday that the policy to be unveiled next week is designed to raise staffing standards inside Texas' 112 state prisons. ...

The drug testing "will cover a majority of the agency's employees," Collier said. "Any of us who are in this business, if people are doing drugs, we don't want them working in the institutions. It's not safe."

The agency has more than 41,300 employees, including more than 29,200 correctional officers and supervisors and nearly 1,300 parole officers.

UPDATE: Sen. John Whitmire sent around an email expressing his support for the new policy, and I replied with the question above about where to cut the budget to pay for it. Whitmire responded that "I am not for cutting TDCJ's budget and am confident funding will be found to cover the additional expense." The good senator remains much more sanguine than I am that it's possible to avoid cutting prisons. TDCJ was taken off the list of exempted agencies in the most recent round of budget cut requests from state leaders.

28 comments:

Jennie said...

This has blown me away. I would assume that any company with a large number of employees that is attached or part of the government whether local, state or federal does both pre-employment drug testing along with random or behavior warranting testing. It is very scary to me that this has not been being done.

Even Wal-Mart can random test their employees!

R. Shackleford said...

Wow, drug testing these folks should have been the rule from the get go, I'm some disgusted that it wasn't.

Dave said...

TDCJ does perform pre-employment testing and "reasonable suspicion" (behavior warranting) testing. This information can be found on the HR webpage by searching existing policies.

As for random testing, it is long overdue - just poorly timed.

Anonymous said...

I've often wondered how many of my fellow TYC employees have drugs on board. I also wonder how many sell drugs on or off campus.

Many are hired because they are kin to somebody. It's almost impossible for these pups with connections to get caught but they often get so sloppy that it becomes hard to ignore even for our superintendent. It's amazing who shows up for jobs in this little inbred town.

doran said...

I invite those of you support this announced policy to explain what it is you think random drug testing will address, find, and cure.

Dave said...

1. Drug Use by employees

2. See #1

3. See numbers 1 and 2

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Considering that a large amount of the drugs currently provided to prisoners come from TDCJ employees, it is about time this policy was enacted. Nearly every other state agency has had this policy for years. It amazes me how often TDCJ still surprises me. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

This money will probably come out of all that additional SAFPF funding that was never spent on SAFPF and that TDCJ wanted to use to purchase cell phone banning technology. Spending treatment money on other things only makes this system harder to operate successfully.

doran said...

Anon 3:01:

Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that "almost all of the illicit drugs currently provided to prisoners come from TDCJ employees"?

How else would those prisoners get the drugs, except for a small amount somehow brought in by family or friends?

So, how will random drug testing stop that trafficing?

Anonymous said...

One thing random drug testing could do is identify the heavy drug using employees. Are the heavy dopers more likely to share their stash than those who don't use drugs and don't have a stash?

People who don't use drugs don't like to cruise the dangerous dopervilles looking for something to sell. They don't speak the doper argot and they find the doper lifestyle creepy and offensive whereas the jive talking doper is in his element.

Anonymous said...

By "share their stash" I meant share their stash with inmates.

Anonymous said...

Whitmire says that he is "confident the money will be found"!!! Really? Where? Why does he think TDCJ has endless money available outside the budget to spend whenever he gets a burr under his saddle?

Anonymous said...

Refineries, plants, etc. perform random drug policies. Why is this new for TDCJ. I have an idea, if the guard(s) have a positive on their drug test, take the amount of the drug test out of their last paycheck. Remember I suggest random drug tests; which means don't tell anyone ahead of time

Anonymous said...

"Jive talking dopers"??? That's hilarious.....and very telling of your perception of people with drug problems.

Personally, I think drug testing without cause is a violation of liberty, dignity and freedom. Why stop with taking people's body fluids? Why not also seize the right to go into employee's homes to search for evidence of any wrongdoing? After all, that would increase "safety", right?

Anonymous said...

A fine example of quid pro quo. It is still "business as usual" in the land of politics (includes the TDCJ Administration).

Retired 2004

Anonymous said...

I knew a guard that rolled buglars and taped them to both of his shins every morning and sold them to inmates. He bragged about making more that way than his salary. Now he's a cop. This is how inmates get contraband. Bad guard = bad cop. They commit the crimes........they don't do the time!

R. Shackleford said...

..."Jive talking dopers"? "Doperville"? It sounds like you got your drugspeak from 'Cotton Comes to Harlem'. On the other hand, I also happen to believe you are correct, Anny 11:56. Normal citizens have been subjected to this horsecrap invasion of privacy for years, but when leos are about to get tarred with the same brush, they commence to howling. Individual freedoms don't mean diddly/squat to le until it's THEIR freedom on the chopping block. By all means, test 'em. Hopefully with an independent company in charge of the peeing and scheduling.

Anonymous said...

We pushed this issue to state legislators and TDCJ admin years ago. And never stopped making it public. I suppose that since they are in a better position now with staffing that they can afford to lose employees over dirty drug tests. It's money well spent. You can't rehabilitate inmates with high employees...

- Backgate Website
www.thebackgate.org

Anonymous said...

Will this drug testing include upper level employees like the parole board members too? It should included everybody, no exceptions.

doran said...

Almost all the commenters [commentators?] are missing the point.

Sure, selling illegal contraband to inmates should be punished, just as selling illegal contraband to any other person in Texas is punished.

And sure, if an employee, or a parole board member, or a member of the governing body of the Texas Prison System is so impaired by illegal drug use as to be unable to do his or her jobs, they should be dealt with appropriately. But so should they be dealt with appropriately if they are impaired by alcohol use, a severe case of the flu, depression from a busted-up love affair or the death of a loved one. "Appropriate" in all these case does not necessarily mean getting fired.

It is possible to go visiting some legal jurisdiction of this Country and some geographically close nations, smoke some dope in the afternoon, take a late flight home, go to work the next morning and WHAM!---get hit with a random drug test with positive results. Why should that person get fired? No laws were broken.

Random drug tests are probably the most invidious, insidious, police-state, authoritarian-state, privacy invading practice of American Security Theater. Politicians want to control people's behavior, so they pass laws requiring random tests. Employers want to control their employees through fear, so they do the same. The tests don't catch everyone, although they may dissuade many. The tests also "catch" people who ate poppy seed buns, caught some secondary hemp smoke while at a bar getting smashed-stupid on alcohol, or legally shared a joint at a friend's home in some other state or country.

If you want to catch all the hemp smokers in America, then show some imagination and some intestinal fortitute and get your local congressman to introduce a bill to require every person in American to submit to drug testing. Wanta make it even more exciting? Give Leos the right to enter homes and businesses to administer the tests. A program like this will cost billions of dollars, but what the hell, it will be worth every penny of it. Right?

R. Shackleford said...

My feeling is 'what's good for the goose is good for the gander'. And perhaps if higher echelon bureaucrats went through the same humiliating crap, they might well rethink the whole stupid process. Like I said, it's all well and good to tromp on everyone's rights, until YOUR rights are the ones getting tromped. I firmly believe that people begin distrusting/hating the whole machine when they or a loved one find themselves in it's grip.

jarenaud said...

Random drug testing, aside from being invidious and insidious, as Anonymous says, catches only the user, not necessarily the smuggler. The only way to get him/her is to do pat searches of anyone coming into the institution. I knew many, many guards bringing in dope/tobacco who had it taped to their bodies. A good bit came in through the back gate, but until you get truly good guards back there, that will continue.

Anonymous said...

So you people are saying that if someone smokes weed, they are bringing it in to convicts? What about the alcoholics? Are they bringing in alcohol? What about cigarette smokers? Are they bringing in cigarettes as well? You goody goody's make me sick.

Anonymous said...

I really don't think that given the nature of the work that drug testing is really that big of a deal. Yes you should have people following the law that work for TYC/TDCJ. The ridiculous thing in TYC is the lack of effective searching of employees and visitors for trafficking drugs. It is such a problem in TYC.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the inmates. This way, if two tinkle tests match up, you will be able to say "Well, either the guard is supplying the convict, or vice versa."

Anonymous said...

Fido the drug dog needs to make some unannounced appearances at certain jails from the sound of it!

This is a BOFFO (Blinding Flash of the F---ing Obvious).

Anonymous said...

Dear grits and all involved. We need a hotline to report employee drug abuse. Thisrandom 2 people a month quota aint gonna cut mustard!