The Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s 112 prison units saw something new added in August– random drug testing for all employees. Statewide 15 employees failed the tests in September and were terminated. ...If TDCJ tested 800 in September and identified 15 drug users, that's a rate of about 1.875%. If that rate continues, and they test all 40,000 guards, parole officers, and other employees in contact with inmates, the agency could lose 750 employees in the next four years as a result of failed drug tests - around 180 in the coming year if they test 9,600 as planned.
TDCJ officials plan to test 9,600 employees this year, averaging 800 per month. Within four years, almost 40,000 employees will have been tested.
Officials are prioritizing job descriptions which have regular contact with offenders, including correctional officers, parole and administrative positions.
Some staff members who have no contact with inmates will be exempt from testing.
Each drug test costs approximately $29.
Another interesting aspect of this is that TDCJ implemented the policy without legislative budget authorization, meaning that to test 9,600 employees this year at $29 each, they'll spend $278,400 on the project that they're having to pull out of thin air - presumably by shifting resources from other priorities. By contrast, when the Senate Criminal Justice Committee recently was told it would cost $390,000 to begin inspecting and regulating municipal jails, legislators said it simply couldn't be done because of the budget crunch. I wouldn't hazard a guess which one is more important - both are essential government functions - but it's funny how there's money available to hold prison guards accountable but not municipal police agencies. You sure can tell that police unions and local law enforcement have a lot more political clout than do prison guards.