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.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.)
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.
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.