Saturday, November 15, 2008

Back Gate poll finds prison staff fear retaliation for reporting misconduct

Over at The Back Gate, a prison staff-run website, a reader poll asks this question: "As a TDCJ employee, have you witnessed incidents on your unit that you were afraid to report to your warden(s) due to fears of career suicide and or retaliation? (be honest)"

The result: 76% (338 out of 445 at the time of this writing).

Everyone wonders why it's so hard to rid prisons of contraband, but if this poll is an accurate reflection, part of the reason is that non-corrupt guards and other prison employees are afraid to speak up.


Anonymous said...

That's because the threat is very real, and the retaliation can have deadly consequences.

Anonymous said...

The same culture was and is in TYC.See no evil, speak no evil, I cover cover me. The TYC Golden Rule, in TDCJ also.

Anonymous said...

This isn't news. TDC/TDCJ has always been this way. Guards murder and brutalize prisoners with impunity. The system is rife with corruption and total disregard for the Constitution all the way from the governor on down.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your point Jami. Just as the corrupt and violent police officers and prison guards prey on the public and inmates, they also prey on the good officers/guards who are their coworkers.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there are ways to report it anonymously. If these were truly good people, they would find a way to report it.

Anonymous said...

rage...eyes and ears are everywhere in a prison so I doubt they can report anonymously. Imagine being a guard who has stirred the ire of fellow guards. Then imagine being that same guard in need of help from an inmate one shows up to help you. No one has your back because you snitched. The snitching issue applies to guards as well as inmates inside a prison.

For all my posts I must say that as often as I am on units I have met some wonderful officers who are doing their job correctly. They do not all brutalize the inmates but they do require that rules are followed. Many of these same officers give the inmates the same respect they themselves receive from said inmate. The next time you visit ask your inmate to point out the good, bad and ugly. They will.

For those of us who have someone in prison we don't want our inmate lump summed with the bad inmates. We shouldn't lump sum all officers either. They aren't all bad people...they are just doing a job and some of them are doing it well.

Anonymous said...

Well, I am glad some more truth is coming out about the "atmosphere" at TDCJ and TYC.

The police departments and sheriffs departments operate just the same way and have the "omerta" pall upon their honest operation.

Same for all state agencies. Same for Austin State Hospital and all state mental hospitals. Bad things go on at all those places and you lose your job if you talk.

Also bad employees, including many bad minority employees set their fellow workers up in quite evil and subversive ways, but when they are reported, those minority employees never get fired.

I believe working in prisons is naturally a place that could be very depressing to certain personalities. And to other workers, it just hardens them and makes them react in undue toughness and cruelty an cynicism and then on to being in on the racketeering.

I used to work with a girl who was the daughter of the head of the Texas Prison System in Huntsville and one of the buildings there is named after him. She would talk about how the prisoners were the servants in their home. She also referred to the prisoners as "trash."

I do not know how to clean things up in prisons or state government, but I know there is not chance unless the dirt is fully exposed.

Anonymous said...

Good post, Cheri L.

Rage, there are good people, and Cheri is right, it's nearly impossible to report things anonymously. You can't even trust that those you would be reporting to are trustworthy.

Anonymous said...

Our poll speaks for itself. It has been an issue within the agency of TDCJ for decades. But only recently has it been brought public. With what TDCJ is hiring these days, it's worse than ever. When the average TDCJ officer has comitted more crimes than the offender he is charged in rehabilitating and just not been caught, what are your options? Thats the case now. And those sorry officers that started out years ago that way are now TDCJ's newest group of wardens and in some cases OIG ( prison police) officers. Scary huh? The reporting of crimes by staff behind bars, immoral acts, etc by staff, from staff themselves are few and far between. When you report it, you are destined to fail. They will find a way to get you, and you will never promote within the agency. All because you were honest, and moral. We aim to stop the retaliation, one way or another. The staff at the Backgate are not immune either. Some of us are known to TDCJ admin., and we have been denied promotions, and been rediculed for years for being a part of the website. Go see the newest story in our ongoing series at the Backgate! It will amaze you...

Backgate Web Staff

Anonymous said...

My friend worked in the corrections department and we both read "Raped by the State". From the posts I have read the same atmosphere of secrecy and intimidation exists in TYC as well. Why doesn't some decent management team clean up these issues in both agencies?
Surely, there are professional teams that could come in and get rid of the abusers and create a clean staff and start!

Anonymous said...

Those TDCJers who took over TYC for a while were cut throat. Pope and Bronco Billy would threaten others for looking like they questioned anything that was going on. The environment was toxic under them and still is but to a lesser degree.

Anonymous said...

I know this is about TDCJ but I worked for TDHS and took them to court as a whistle blower(I won) but I had to agree to never reapply for a job with TDHS. My hubby worked for TDCJ in the same town and finally we moved to Kansas for 4 years to get away from the retaliation. Now he is back at TDCJ in a different area. I have applyed for over 5 years for various jobs with TDCJ and Parole until one lady finally told me "Please do not report me, but you are the best qualified and I wanted to hire you, but the Attorney Generals Office has you on a black list" I believe her as I knew some of the folks who got the jobs and knew I had experience and education better than they had. So yes it does not pay to speak up. The persons I reported got promotions and I lost my career. Love the State.

Anonymous said...

Basically the same mo in TYC. The two sex perverts are still on the loose and the ones above them, who covered-up the abuses, were promoted. Both were later fired, we think; but probably received huge retirements and other bonuses from their higher up and legislative friends. A flat disgrace! How do we lock up some of the legislative abusers?

Anonymous said...

Same problems with Adult Probation under TDCJ. BILL fitzgerald is the big prob in Bexar? How many Crimes is he allowed to get by with? If you speak out you get fired !!!

Anonymous said...

The model for corruption starts at the top. Austin, Huntsville, Regional Directors. There can not be any significant change or improvement until the powers that be are held responsible for the conditions in TDCJ. The current lege and governor have equally dirty hands. The worst part is the "look over there!!" dog and pony show going on. While contraband is an issue, it is only a cover up for the really big crime going on in the board rooms and offices around the state concerning TDCJ. The administrations need to have poor quality staff and low level crime to keep the spotlight off of them. Retaliation is business as usual. I have only two words: INDEPENDENT OVERSIGHT.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:40

Your post is excellent and right on.

I think the postings on this forum do a great job of exposing the corruption and the degree of the corruption. It does this in very specific real-life ways. It does almost as good at naming names, though still naming names seems to be off limits.

Since blackmail, bribery and extortion are what keep the corruption grid in place, the independent oversight people would never be allowed unless they too are blackmailable, bribable, or extortable.

When the U.S. Justice Department, the Attorney General of the U.S. and of Texas and the judges and lawyers all exist within this grid, I just think very specific thorough exposure of them is all we can hope for at this point.

The Texas criminal justice system operates just as all levels of our government do these days.

Plato o plomo !

Anonymous said...

Something about evil prevailing and good men doing nothing...

Seriously. Quitcherbitching and report whatever you see. I've done it in my profession and paid for it, but in the long run it worked out better for me and I can hold my head up. Failing to report it is cowardice.

Anonymous said...

It all depends on what your character is. If you see something happening but do not report it, the question gets answered as to what side you are on..

In court, they call those folks accessories to ...

Anonymous said...

It's a cultural thing in prison, rage and anon - Power wielded abusively by prisoners, guards and administrators alike is the coin of the realm and everyday grease that allows the system to function. You talk about character in the abstract, but the risk for guards isn't just getting fired it's getting killed. That's a price lawyers and others don't have to pay when they become whistleblowers and it makes the calculation a lot different.

Anonymous said...

"The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke

If it is "bitching" for me and the good posters on this forum to give a specific clear, albeit negative sounding, picture of the reality and share their experiences and opinions, then think I will just keep on "bitchin."

Do not call people derogatory names because you do not like their free speech.

Reporting blatant wrongdoing is something I and others here probably have always done, but it is the insideous veiled pervasive, holding back and keeping quiet, types of wrongdoing, manipulations and set-ups that is the real problem.

Hope every one keeps on "bitchin" and shedding light on all the darkness.

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light."

Ephesians 5:11-14

Anonymous said...

One of the problems that I haven't seen mentioned here is the attitude of the public. Abuses of power exist and inmates are abused because the "good christians" of Texas believe that people in custody deserve whatever happens to them. Most Texans could care less if inmates are abused or harassed or raped by staff. They believe they deserve it for being there. I have very happily left Texas three years ago because of these prevailing attitudes. Unfortunately I have to return on a regular basis to visit someone I care deeply about who incarcerated by TDCJ at Lane Murray. I know very well how staff treat the inmates, how they hold grudges, take out their anger on those in their charge. I'm also very aware of how these same people treat the ones on the outside who come to visit. Each and every time I set foot in the Lane Murray Unit, I'm treated like a convict myself. I see and feel the disdain the staff have for both the incarcerated and the incarerateds loved ones.

Anonymous said...

"Most Texans could care less if inmates are abused or harassed or raped by staff."

I care about it.

I have heard a local radio talk show host say on many times

something like

"Texas Youth Commission have "rape rooms" and the administrators and guards gather round and repeatly abuse and rape inmates. State and local "officials" also drive up, park their big cars, and go in to participate in these middle of the night, all night long rape fests."

I have been trying to find out if there is any truth to that picture painted. It seems so extreme and exagerated but the more I read, the more I am learning that that state of affairs could exist and could go on for a long time and could be, for all we know, still be going on.

Because of the nature of this bad bad situation with TYC and TDCJ, the public is just being fed one layer of lies upon another. This is ruin-your-life, ruin-your-career, ruin-your-family, and kill your political career material, so best I can tell we do not have the whole truth.

I will keep reading. I understand only two people are really charged with sexual crime and they have not even been brought to trial yet.

I do not think I like the way "reform" is used politically by our legislators. There needs to be something much more radical than reform happen. Unless a few of the top heads roll, all of this will just fade and be swept under the rug.

I would like there to be tough legilation and a big rally at the capital to try to shine the light on this matter.

Anonymous said...

I thought the book "Raped by The State", was about juveniles and TYC. After hearing what is going on in the adult prison system, the book also fits the culture of TDJC. Same good/bad employees and management corruption and constant abuse in all areas. The cover-up is state wide in both areas and top officials don't want the boat rocked....they are too comfortable in their superior roles.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Do not call people derogatory names because you do not like their free speech.

To the contrary, I'm the one saying you're not saying enough. If you think this or your own website is going to affect change, you are sadly mistaken.

Whitmire seems open to hearing about the various abuses right about now. Try him. If your life is at stake for a job that provides little pay and no real incentive to stay, then get another job. But complaining here isn't going ti fix your problems. report the problems, to your own peril if need be, or get out of the system so that it no longer affects you--but report it on the way out.

Again, by not reporting it, you are enabling the criminal behavior of others.

Anonymous said...

I think a big problem Texas has is that the worst elements of society go into law enforcement. Of course there are shining exception such as Craig Watkins, hero cops, et cetera.

There are bad apples in every prison, but there seems to be a culture here of allowing it to go on.

Same with police brutality, prosecutorial misconduct stealing lives, et cetera.

I don't know if it's rooted in our wild west history, Jim Crow, or a combo of such.

Having moved around all my life, I moved here and fell in love with Texas and most Texans. In general the level of integrity among people is higher than anywhere I've been. But in law enforcement it is the exact opposite.

I worked in the World Trade Towers. When the NYPD ran into the collapsing buildings, no New Yorker was surprised. And NYC had been through the Mollen commission, which had exposed endemic, extensive police corruption.

I can't imagine most of these skinhead-type Texas law enforcement officers even contemplating such a sacrifice. I think many would agree with me.

I agree with rage that guards must be whitleblowers. At the same time, we can't underemphasize the sizeable brutal thug population among our prison guards, police officers, and prosecutors. offenders.

Has anyone every done a study on a county by county basis in Texas to see how the number of injuries/et cetera in police custody/during 'arrests' et cetera compares to the number of physical assaults reported in the general population?

I believe in Galveston County the police cause more physical battery monthly than the general population as a whole. This is a belief based on an overview of the data - not a study. People would have to view booking photos as well as medical treatment records in jail, et cetera.

Anonymous said...

The sacrificing that needs to be done must be done by the governor and state legislators who must be willing to sacrifice their careers and their lives to get this cleaned up. There must be a safe place for whistleblowers to report. There must be honest moral people running the government investigation.

The media needs to be kept out because they are already dead from the gangrene.

The public needs to be closely included and allowed in on as many hearings as possible.

Then, after the investigation and total shake up, there must be put in place mechanisms to protect workers and prisoners to make sure none of this gangrene can ever start again.


"I always received much more satisfaction as a defense attorney in obtaining an acquittal for a client than I ever have as a D.A. in obtaining a conviction. All my interests and sympathies tend to be on the side of the individual as opposed to the state. "

Jim Garrison

Anonymous said...

The problem most certainly lies at the feet of the citizens of Texas. While Texas prides itself on its "independence", it is the MOST "lawed" state in the union and has the highest percentage of incarcerated citizens in the world. Those facts are not just sobering, they are what nightmares are made of. Yet the general population still very much believes that being "tough" on crime makes their lives better.
1 out of 22 people in Texas are under the supervsion of the criminal justice system. This explains WHY reporting misconduct is not brought to the public's attention and recieved with open arms. Texans need to wake up to how they are being forced to live in an ever increasing police state and ASK to hear what the whistleblowers have to say. Broken record time: Independent Oversight. Preferably from a source outside of Texas at this point. This is the only way to stem the tide of retaliation. The good ole boy system is very incestuous in the state. Speak up.

Anonymous said...

The same culture was and is in TYC. See no evil, speak no evil, I cover you, you cover me.

Just like TYC.

Anonymous said...

The new Board Chairman for TDCJ is very supportive of staff. He is also very supportive of change.

The Office of Inspector General for TDCJ has never shyed away from taking down those in the top pecking order, when they gave him a reason to do so.

Their is a hotline number posted on every unit to report violations.

Callers can remain annonymous. It's not a perfect tool, but it is a tool. It is very annonymous if you want to keep it that way. While I am not 100% sure about things like caller ID, that can be fixed by calling from a Trac Phone or a pay phone.

Hopefully, it is something that folks won't abuse for vendetta's, rumors, or any other illigitimate purpose.

Anonymous said...

Everyone working for TDCJ knows firsthand that retaliation is there.The good officers are suffering for the bad apples that TDCJ sends from the academies. The state is to blame for whats going on. Cover Up!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Its always been the way!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Nothing will ever change!!!!!!
The good old boy system is still there and always will be. Unless your a kiss------- and you tell whats going on you can be ready for career suicide... Believe That!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

My husband is in a Southeast Texas Prison and I am here to tell you, those guards there allow inmates to create radio speakers and break the rules by playing their rap music (LOUDLY). They allow cell phones and everything else! I had to laugh when my husband told me that the inmates had been reprimanded for "lifting" thousands of pounds of meat! How? Where would they cook/BBQ it? It was the guards that stole it and the inmates were blamed! My husband's prison is so beat up and messed up, it should have been condemned YEARS ago! He is in a cell where the windows are rotted out and all matter of vermin come in and the sewage on his cell block and the smell and the black mold... and the ACA is on their way to accrediting that place? Also they put regular drinking fountains in the day room, but did not hook up the pipes in the walls because they are rotting and unusable-- how cruel is that?
I feel the offenders should be the guards and the guards be the offenders! Any takers? LOL

Anonymous said...

the entire tdcj agency is filled with incopentence with no thoughts of what real prison security is all about. they are afraid of what the inmates might think.
their rights have turned into wrongs and the agency are afraid of what the public might think, when in the real world it doesn't matter. the TDC prison system is ready for rent-a-guards.

Anonymous said...

I tried to reveal wrong doing and low and behold was accused of being dirty afterward by the upper admin on down to the immediate supers and their girlfriends and soon 2 be wives.I use 2 accuse the quitters of being dirty. Boy did I learn.All my years of service over.I couldnt handle it anymore!