Sunday, June 12, 2011

'As TDCJ recruiting slows, overtime usage increases'

Over at The Back Gate, Victoria Anderson has a story on a development that will aggravate the agency's budget woes titled "As TDCJ recruiting slows, overtime usage increases." She reports that:
TDCJ facilities statewide have posted dwindling numbers of Correctional Officers to staff there prisons, and there seems to be no relief in sight.  The Huntsville Correctional Training academy now trains the majority of the recruits themselves, leaving some satellite regional training facilities with little to do. TDCJ states that the Region III training facility located in Rosharon has suspended new recruit training classes and has been focusing exclusively on staff in-service classes for the past few months. That facility once held classes for new recruits numbering 90-120 employees every 6 weeks.

With budget cuts looming for the agency, and employees being laid off due to those spending cuts, the agency has slowed recruiting down to see what happens with the state budget.  In the mean time, prison facilities statewide are reporting staffing issues as administrators are having problems keeping their "priority one" duty posts filled and in compliance with agency policy.
Grits had reported earlier this spring on high turnover rates among TDCJ correctional officers, revealing via data acquired under an open records request that 80% of COs hired at the CO I level never make it to permanent CO III status. A whopping 20% of correctional officers at TDCJ left the agency in 2010, so as recruitment slows the increased overtime bill will inevitably drift inexorably upward. (The same thing is happening at the Harris County jail, writ small, where understaffing combined with overcrowding has led to massive overtime bills at the Sheriff's Office.)

If the Lege had done more this year to reduce the TDCJ prisoner population, the declining number of guards might be manageable. As it stands, it just creates an enormous, expensive, and entirely predictable clusterf&%k that exacerbates other problems at the agency.


Prison Doc said...

I hear that with oil patch activity picking up, the prisons have a hard time competing for workers when they can make a whole lot more on a drilling crew.

Anonymous said...

All levels of State law enforcement are having a hard time recruiting. From DPS to TDCJ it does not look good for the State when it comes to overtime pay.

Anonymous said...

Why do they leave?
It isn't all about money, it is respect.
Veterans aren't shown any. When did a veteran get a "sign on bonus"? Never- -but new ones that came in did. The veterans train the new ones. Why aren't ones that have been there few years shown any respect with their experience?
Most people look at a company with how long people stay, if no one stays, shouldn't they be looking at why? It isn't JUST money, it is respect, appreciation, satute, and benefits, in that order.
No new raises again, insurances changes, retired (from tdcj) cannot come back now, yet veterans still have to train the new ones, help the new ones, that received a bonus/or higher pay scale to work there.
Putting new officers in certain positions is a "slap in the face" to veterans, but that is the way tdcj wants it now. New officers do not "earn" a right to work a position now, they are assign to one, so why stay? Let all the new ones run a prison, ones that do not have the experience, maturity or knowledge to do so. That is what is happening. New officers are running off their own. It is a domino effect- respect carries a lot of weight- -in any business.

Anonymous said...

It is really scary to be working at a maximal security prison and be surrounded by a minimal number of guards. I am leaving soon partially due to the security factor.
It won't be long before these prisons go into semi
permanent lockdowns due to lack of security officers.

JohnT said...

I thought you were off for the week. You've been as busy as hell!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Just one week, John T; I got home Saturday. Really enjoyed the vacation, though. :)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Grits will one day realize that the Back Gate is a one man show. These reporters are all one in the same person.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

11:34, when they put different bylines on the stories, I take them at their word. I don't personally know the author. But even if you're right, that doesn't discount the information provided. Grits is a one man show, too.

jabberman76366 said...

Having retired last year from TDCJ, I would like to add my two cents worth. When I came into the agency in 1997, all staff took pride in the unit. So how has this changed?
The major problem is lack of respect, from the upper elite of TDCJ. If you take care of your people they will take care of you. Nothing illegal mind you, but respect goes along way.
Use to in turn out the rank would say," Go to Wal mart or McDonalds if you don't like what we do or how we treat you!"
As for solving the probles who knows, any ideas?

James said...

3:20, what do you mean by the new people haven't "earned" the right to work a position? Do you mean that veterans should only get the cush assignments and the rookies take the crap ones? Employees need to be familiar with all aspects of operations, not perpetuating the good ol' boy system. If I'm wrong, give some specifics and have the balls to post your name instead of hiding behind "anonymous."