Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Governor: Spending to reduce contraband smuggling an emergency

Security upgrades and screening equipment aimed at reducing contraband smuggling in Texas prisons made it onto the list of items designated by the Governor as "emergencies," allowing them to be taken up within the first 30 days of the session. The Department of Criminal Justice has estimated the short-term cost of adding cameras, metal detectors, and other security improvements at $66 million.

Proposed increases in prison guard pay and other TDCJ "exceptional items" totaling $1.2 billion will have to go through the regular appropriations process.

MORE: From the Austin Statesman.

AND MORE: In other budget news, according to Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, even though the Lege will likely require budget cuts from most state agencies: "the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, will probably escape the knife because they have requested emergency money to make it through the current budget year, which ends Aug. 31."


x4livin said...

So then what happens on August 31st?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

The new fiscal year begins.

W W Woodward said...

This makes a lot of sense. Throw enough money at a problem and it will disappear. Or at least, the money just might cover it up. Buy metal detectors, vid cams, sirens, and cell phone sniffing dogs and pot bellied pigs. That ought to do it!

Has anyone in the TDCJ-ID or the Texas legislature had a thought as to hiring ethical employees and developing an ethical work place in the TDCJ-ID system?

The ethical requirements, criminal history and background checks are considerably more intense for a county jailor than for a TDCJ-ID employee and county jails still turn up bad apples on occasion.

If one accepts crap one will receive crap. As a result of employee abuse, intimidation, poor pay, and the good ol' boy way of doing things, TDCJ-ID has lost many competent employees and has had to resort to hiring substandard employees.

Just what the heck does TDCJ-ID and the Legislature expect?

Anonymous said...

Metal detectors and cameras won't solve the contraband smuggling, if corrupt employees are working as a team, as they often will do.

It's like the fallacy that certain courthouse security designs and metal detectors will decrease random shootings when all they really are doing is narrowing or defining the killing zone.

Does anyone know if TDCJ has as a condition of employment a policy that states all employees, their vehicles and personal belonging are subject to search at anytime while on TDCJ property?

Texas Senator Hutchinson has legislation before Congress that would change the federal cell phone jammer statute. That seems to be a step in the right direction as far as cell phones go.

Anonymous said...

I honestly do not understand who these new security devices are supposed to be aimed. Since prisoners are strip searched before and after visitations, I don't really see how that can be much of an issue. The prisoners are already subject to lockdowns and searches already.

So they must be putting them in place for the gaurds. Let's see if I get this right. A gaurd works at a place where he/she is not trusted, not valued or respected, (we know this from the rate of pay) and then has to deal with bad working conditions (like no air conditioning) and has the real possibility of being injured by violence. What a way to attract the best people.

WW is right, a few pieces of metal and wire ain't gonna fix this.

Anonymous said...

WW you are right on target about the problems with TDCJ. All that electronic garbage will not solve the problems with TDCJ. Hiring ethical employees is the only way to solve TDCJ's problems.

With the current pay levels, TDCJ is unable to staff their prison, even in a recession. Quality employees seek higher paying jobs with other agencies criminal justice agencies and do not stay long with TDCJ.

The agency made the right move by requesting a 20% increase in correctional officer pay. Lets see if the Legislator and Governor makes the right move.

With Texas possibly receiving $9 billion from the feds this year, there is no reason not to come up with the $456 million for TDCJ pay increases.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the electronic devices will not be effective, I also agree that they should hire ethical employees. However, I do not agree that a pay increase will attract ethical eemployees. If that were true, teachers, probation officers and police officers, for example would not be very ethical. Teachers are terribly underpayed and they have to have 4 yr. degrees and a teaching certificate. I know a guard who is lazy and unethical and he makes close to 3,000.00 a month. Raises there are not merit based. On the other end that theory does not explain CEOS, and other upper management people who are extremely unethical. I had to get a college degree for my job as a caseworker and I know some guards make as much, if not more than I. I believe there are ethical people out there but the hiring process and procedure is not setup to attract the best. There needs to be a writing and reading skills assessment attached and interview questions should be open ended to determine charater.

Anonymous said...

It seems the problem is much more systemic and complicated than I was aware. Just throwing money at it in the form of security devices and pay raises is not going to solve the deeper issues.

However, those things take time to put in place. How do you get rid of the bad apples, put a more stringent hiring practice in place, attract more ethical, educated, qualified canadites in a system that is already at the brink of collapse?

With the current prison population and the shortages of gaurds, ethical or not, TDCJ has really painted themselves into a corner on this one.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps they should just start hiring gaurds, to gaurd the gaurds.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 1.48 ~ the real problem is, these things are not new. TDCJ has been this way for many years, and it is the inability or refusay of those in power to tackle the probelms before they got to this point which should really be address right now. Their head-in-the-sand attitutde is what has prolonged and exacerbated the problems.

Anonymous said...

The adult probation system is in the same shape..
Just look at Bexar County and others. The administrations keep raising their pay and not the line officers, retaliating against those that speak out and promoting "yes" men/women.
There is a STATEWIDE problem that involves those in charge! They are the problem.........yet e lege doesn't care!

Anonymous said...

An earlier post correctly stated that higher pay does not create an ethical employee. But, increased staffing would encourage supervisors to be more prompt and diligent in seeking out, scrutinizing and those 'ethically-challenged' employees. And recruiters and those responsible for hiring could raise their standards as well. If they had a bigger pool to fish in, they might not have to settle for carp.

W W Woodward said...

Problem: The "ethically challenged employees" are usually the people at the top of the stack.

Ethics seems to be a trickle down situation. It's really hard to expect the "grunts" to exhibit a proper work ethic when they see management routinely display and encourage unethical behaviour.

The ranking supervisors who direct subordinates to falsify documents, cover up improper uses of force, conduct unconstitutional searches, or take improper disciplinary actions against inmates (to name a few typical acts of misconduct) set the standard for their employees.

When you've got role models like this from wardens down to sergeants what kind of behaviour can you expect from the "grunts"?

Anonymous said...

W.W., on 02/03 you wrote

"Has anyone in the TDCJ-ID or the Texas legislature had a thought as to hiring ethical employees and developing an ethical work place in the TDCJ-ID system"?
We can't even get enough unethical employees to fill the vacancies. We need a bigger pool of applicants, W.W.! And higher pay will widen (and hopefully deepen) that pool.

fav.or.it said...

TDCJ needs a big pay pluse I have been with them almost 10 yrs and looking to leave there work envaroment is bad help!!

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fav.or.it said...

there are plenty of "ethical" employees and very little "crap" in grey. the new wave of crminals being introduce along with the hug a thug mentality is what makes it seem like it's the staff that is corrupted. it all starts in the family unit, that is where "crap" is made, or not. tdcj to adopted a much more strict, tough environment, which is what the family units are comging up short on. but yes they do need a pay raise simply because of the cost of living and the work they are doing to protect texas citizens.

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fav.or.it said...


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