Also, "93 correctional officers faced criminal charges last year for crimes inside prisons, ranging from bribery to theft to sexual assault to official oppression. That is down from a high of 154 in 2009, according to the statistics made available under the Texas Public Information Act." Also, Ward suggested:
If the rate of prison crimes is staying roughly the same, other statistics underscore that cell block conditions are not improving much – and may be getting tougher. In April, officers reported using chemical agents on unruly felons 403 times, compared with an average of 262 times a month last year. Some 104 offender assaults were reported in March, compared with an average of 85 a month last year.In addition to the stats, Ward supplied this remarkable anecdote as evidence of increased violence in Texas prisons, in this case instigated by staff:
Despite the currently lower population of Texas convicts – just under 151,000 were housed in the 109 state prisons this week, about 9,000 fewer than roughly a decade ago – [TDCJ inspector general Bruce] Toney and other prison officials said they do not expect the number of prison crimes to decline much.
Officials and guards acknowledge that the new numbers underscore that the Lone Star State's maximum-security lockups are living up to their long-standing tough reputation.
A March 17 beating at the Gib Lewis Unit near Woodville, in deep East Texas, highlights that.
There, shortly after 11 p.m., seven men stormed into a prison cell and began punching the inmate inside, a convicted Tarrant County burglar serving a two-year sentence. "Beat his a--," the attackers shouted over and over, as they held the inmate by throat, according to an internal report of the incident obtained by the Chronicle.Good report (read the whole thing), but I'd be cautious in interpreting any one year increase or decrease too strictly; these are relatively small numbers and changes could result from a variety of factors. E.g., TDCJ has cracked down on contraband cases but that doesn't mean more contraband is coming in than before, only that the agency is now making a greater effort to enforce the rules.
This, however, was no usual prison beat-down: The attackers were uniformed prison guards, led by a veteran lieutenant and a sergeant.
Investigators said both supervisors have been fired, and all seven guards now face charges of official oppression. The reason for the attack was that the convict, who had a history of harassing jailers, earlier had threatened a female guard.
As for the convict, he was paroled last week after serving about nine months, they said.
And as an aside, God bless Mike Ward. If anything ever happens to him, there won't be one reporter left in the state consistently covering agency-level issues at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.