Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fewer prisoners, more guards at TDCJ

According to AP:
Texas prison officials plan to cancel contracts to house up to 1,900 state convicts in county lockups because the number of inmates in state prisons has fallen.

Michelle Lyons, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, told the Austin American-Statesman that officials plan to move the convicts now housed in county lockups back into state prisons by the end of August. Lawmakers, who directed the move, anticipated the population decline and did not appropriate $28 million to continue leasing the contract beds.

The decrease in state inmates — part of a national trend — coincides with an increase in correctional officers at the state’s 112 adult prisons. The vacancy rate for prison guards has dropped to about 5 percent, the lowest in more than a decade for a state that has long had a shortage of prison guards.

Texas has just 1,262 correctional officer jobs now open, compared with more than 3,700 just over a year ago. Officials say more people have become guards because of pay incentives and the struggling economy.

"It’s the economy. No doubt about it," said state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston. "When there’s not many choices for employment, and the oil patch slows down, these prison jobs start looking real good."

I'd wondered recently whether TDCJ would achieve significant prison population reduction by the end of FY 09 in August as estimated (pdf) by the Legislative Budget Board, and this news makes me think those estimates may have been pretty accurate.


Anonymous said...

I'm just so not used to any good news coming from TDCJ I'm truley at a loss for words.

Anonymous said...

in this reduction, how did they achieve it.. Perry been ignoring more last minute reprieves? :S

sunray's wench said...

It's good but it could be so much better

Anonymous said...

If the release of state prisoners from prison is approximately compensated by the increase in menally ill inmates in county jails, this lends support to "Harcourt's Rule:" that the confinement ratio is (roughly) conserved.

See his two papers on "Rethinking the Incarceration Revolution," here:

Anonymous said...

Reducing the number of CO positions as resulted in the FEWER Vacancies. I would like to see Scott post the CO Positions for a few years ago and current to ensure that TDCJ Officials have not COOKED THE BOOKS!

Charlie O said...

Grits, do you know if this number reduction is due to increased granting of parole or inmates maxing on sentences? My wife is due for parole (after a two year offset) in November. We really have our fingers crossed.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Charlie O, there's not enough data to tell for sure the source of the latest trend, but my sense from other figures I've seen is that it's predominantly due to two sources: A slight uptick in the rate at which parole is being granted and a reduction in front-end probation revocations in some of the larger counties.

Make sure you have a really good parole packet that emphasizes how much support she'll have helping her to succeed when she gets out.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

8:24, I don't have that data but I'll scout around for it.

Anonymous said...

Charlie O - Be sure and request an interview with the voting board members too! Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Great, look for a trickle down effect on county jails and county taxpayers to house parole violation charged only inmates.

I'm going to wait and see but looks like this could be a repeat performance of the 90's when county jails were inundated with parole violators, paper ready inmates and the mentally ill.

Anonymous said...

Yes, TDCJ does have more "officers"- -because of th eeconomy. But look what was done to the "officers" that worked through being so short handed, over worked, under paid! A whole 3% raise- -then the insurance went up- -excuse me? The "old timers" got a MINUS raise! NO ONE got this 1500.00 sign on bonus back then, they did their job through all of this hot weather, short handed, over time (mandatory at some units)- -and all they got was a darn slap- -hard- -in the face.
It is cheaper for TDC to hire NEW officers than to pay the veterans- -sad and they do it.
THIS should be the total opposite- -how would YOU feel when a co-worker- -that you have to even train is making just the SAME if not MORE wage than you?
Does out great governor care? Heck NO!
Fine- -watch, when the economy gets better- -it will be right back to the same old thing- -this must be part of our great "change" here at it's finest! GEt real people, the vetreans are the ones holding down the fort here- -not these UNmature 18 year olds with 1500.00 in their pockets! They are "letting" inmates out because they probably know these 18 year olds can't do their job correctly- -or near to.
Get with the program, do NOT beleive everything you hear, trust me.

Anonymous said...

Every time I visit my relative I see guards that are fighting to stay awake! What is going on? Are the shifts that long, or perhaps the guards have little stamina? This is ridiculous.