Friday, March 30, 2007

House schedules raises for TDCJ, TYC

In the midst of his outstanding liveblogging of the floor debate on HB 1, the Texas House Appropriations bill, Vince reports:
TYC and TDCJ guards will get raises of about 4 percent in addition to a 2.5 percent raise for all state employees.
It remains to be seen if the pay raise sticks in the Senate. Vince didn't mention whether employees besides COs at those agencies were included in the amendment - if anybody knows offhand, please update in the comments.

Meanwhile, Matt Wright at the Texas Observer blog writes that the House approved an amendment by Martinez-Fischer to disallow TYC to use funds to pay employees with a past felony. I've written before why I think this is a broad-brush overreaction and a bad idea - a narrower, more targeted restriction would be more appopriate.

I wish everybody would stop all the grandstanding and put on their thinking caps before proposing this stuff. TYC only allowed workers with felonies with authorization from the central office, but there's a really good reason: the agency can't find enough workers in the isolated, rural areas where TYC facilities are located. Everyone who's studied the situation acknowledges that the shortage of workers contributes to the lack of safety for kids and employees alike. But Martinez-Fischer would reduce the potential labor pool! About one in eleven Texas adults has a felony conviction, so in the scheme of things we're talking about a lifetime ban on employment at TYC for quite a lot of folks.


Anonymous said...

The Martinez-Fischer amendment is just another attempt to violate the rights of people with past felony convictions. Many of us with past felony convictions have served the state faithfully for many years. In my case the conviction was over 35 years ago for a non-violent property crime. When I was hired many years ago the local Superintendent and the Executive Director approved my hiring. I followed the policy of TYC and was honest about my past record now the law makers want to change the rules for their political gain. Senator Whitmire said he didn’t care about the law; get ride of the felons and let the lawyers sort it out wile talking to Ed Owens. SenatorWhitmire told the head of a state agency to knowingly violate the law. I find it very interesting Senator Whitmire has such a low regard for the law.

I understand Senator Whitmire is a lawyer and member of the state bar in Texas, which makes him an officer of the court. Senator whitmire has openly made these statements on the record compelling another state official to abuse the power of his office and violate state policy and law to violate the rights of over 100 Texans. Would this not be grounds for Senator Whitmire being disbarred and even prosicuted for criminal offenses?

Maybe we are getting a chance to see how self serving our elected officials are. They seem to be willing to sacrifice over 100 people, their children and their spouses for a media sound bite. They offer no review or gand fathering in their move to fire over 100 prior felons, many of which told the truth when hired. We were honest and trusted the system to be just and honor its policy once we were hired but now we see the politicians are not to be trusted.

The politicians act like they are concerned about the youth in TYC but I have a hard time believeing them. The Legislature cut the TYC budget year after year whitout a thought about the youth. I think the Texas Legislature needs to step-up and take responsibility for their part in the TYC mess and stop trying to find others to blame. The administrative staff who were involved in the bad acts and cover-up were not put in place by the felons.

It also appears our Legislature does not believe in Rehabilitation. I guess they don’t think my life has changed. The 35 years since my crime means nothing to them. Why are they willing to spend money on rehabilitation if they don’t think it works? I am just short of retirement and I am getting robbed by the politicians. Where is the justice in me being robbed of what I have worked for all there years? There are many people convicted of felonies who have stolen much less than what is being stolen from me by the politicians.

Any media outlet may freely reprint my comments.

Anonymous said...

anon at 9:04am...I think what they are doing to you is a travesty. And your point about rehabilitation is spot on. You are exactly the kind of role-model those kids need...someone who did something bad but then turned their life around and spent it in service to others.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, their GOAL is not to rehabilitate those who break the law! I'm ashamed that our LEGE speaks out both sides of it's mouth. As a Community Supervision officer for 22 years, I feel those that violated the law, served their time via probation or incarceration are some of the best to use their past as an encouragement to others to move on in life. Shame on you Sen. Whitmire