Monday, June 07, 2010

Rec, education make up small portion of commissary revenue

How are Texas commissary revenues spent? I asked TDCJ under the Public Information Act and uploaded the details at this link. Of $94.9 million in FY 2009 revenue, just $4.3 million (4.5%) went to educational and recreational programs, with the majority going to library services ($2.4 million), followed by recreational services ($1.1 million), radio and TV expenses ($627,075), and the offender publication The Echo ($115,244).

Another $3 million in FY 2009 was diverted "as a funding source to minimize agency’s FY2009 supplemental appropriation requirements."

As an aside, now that many TDCJ offenders can receive email, I wonder if anyone has considered allowing The Echo to begin to be distributed electronically?


Matthew Venhaus said...

It's a misnomer to say offenders can receive e-mail. Letter writers can send their message electronically and it is printed for the offender in the unit's mailroom. The offender does not access the message electronically.

sunray's wench said...

Matthew, you beat me to it :) It's interesting to see "TV and radio" listed as an expenses. Inmates, sorry, inmate families pay for radios. The televisions must be the ones in the dayroom, and perhaps that would be an inflated expense to cover the switch from analogue signal to digital.

Anonymous said...

"recreational services"? My husband are denied these regularly and he's a trustee, with no discplinary actions to prevent his access. The unit just doesn't find allowing these recreational services a high priority on their list of things the inmates need.

Anonymous said...

It's prison. What do you expect?

Anonymous said...

Don't think the Echo can be distributed electronically at this time as JPAY supplied the computers and is paying for the paper, ink and printer for the offender's emails.

Perhaps one day whenever their MOU ends....

Helga Dill, Chair, TX CURE said...

Ah, what recreational costs? The gyms are used for storage etc, not recreation which is what they are intended for .Equipment is almost non-existent. I am not asking for a state of the art gym equipment but things to keep the inmates healthy so they won't have to utilize medical as much.
As for Anonymous 08:50:00," it is prison, what do you expect?", how typical a comment from one of those who are clueless. The money the prisoners receive from their loved-ones is partially to be used for such equipment, so we should have some input on this. My organization has pushed for in-cell TVs for years, which would be another revenue for the State , cut down on violence in the dayroom and also be a perfect"babysitter" for the officers. Sorry, maybe I should have said"offender sitter".
As for educational programs, they are hardly worth it because you can't use any of it when you get out , because NO ONE wants to hire an ex-felon, no matter how much education he has.

sunray's wench said...

It also mentions board games for the inmate day rooms. I have yet to hear of any TDCJ day room that has a board game available. I'd love to know whether any exist.

Anonymous said...

From the comments and from some reading, it would seem these are facade headings to the real bucket --> "kick backs"

how long has it been since this 'process' was audited? And if not audited, why not?

TDCJEX said...

I was right all along I knew all the money generated from “store as we called it “ was not gong into recreation or education. That is correct they do not receive a email but a printed letter that the person sending pays for just to keep the loud mouths quite . TV that is in the day room and is controlled by the “law” / bosses AKA guards . They cannot send or revive real email as you think of them in the freeworld. It seems like TDCJ is using commissary as a source oi funding the agency instead if education and recreation . Looks like TDCJ is doing some creative accounting too .

Your Offender ID that is issued to you on assessment of a unit . And should be covered by operating cost every one sentenced to TDCJ must have their ID at all times weather they go to commissary or not . Then there is the “other operating expense “ when ever I see “other expense “ on any budget I know it is being used for something other than what it is supposed to be .

Education that would be a GED class . You if you are lucky enough to have family or friends pay for the courses and required programs . I never heard of a educational course you did not have to pay for out side of a GED

Rec OH yeah those volleyballs and nets mist be real expensive anything else is considered to be far to dangerous for convicts to be doing . You can jog wall or maybe use a exercise machine if their unit has one . That is if you are allowed .

Helga is dead on what good is it if no one will hire a “ex convict” Sadly Anon 8:50s attitude is all to common and why prison is a revolving door and does not do anything other then bread a lot of hate and angry y people . In cell or cubicle TVs are a great idea and would reduce some of the problems . As would more phone time and not using the phones as to punish prisoners let them talk to their loved ones often that will diffuse situation better than the cool tactical toys the bosses love to use . I would also like to see longer visits on more days even family visits . I know it will anger the wingnuts but something has to give .Those humans can only take whose much before something bad happens I have sen a small “riot 'I would hate to see a unit or system wide one .Besides the more d contact a prisoner has with the free world the lower recidivism.

I know anything they might bring any comfort or a bit of happiness into their lives is called being soft on crime and you go to prison not be punished . I think some forget that the only reason it is not them is they have not been caught yet

Sunray There are not any of them they are contraband because they might be used for gambling. Day to room and in cell actives consist of watching TV dominoes , talking writing, drawing stuff . getting bored going back to your cell or cubicle reading if you can get books you have to have some one wiling to send you most books or go to the library and hope there is one you might like to read . That is if you are literate Sleeping lots of sleeping .

OT But I have been wondering is there is any effort to get good time as away to reduce the time served and give every one but a few hope .Even lifers could have hope if thy knew maybe they had a chance at some form of freedom . Clearly the system is not working and needs serious changes . I also would like to find more legal help for prisoners who cannot afford it . Many have a lot of very strong claims and need some representation .Sorry to go OT

sunray's wench said...

TDCJ-EX ~ that's what I thought, Hubby has been through several units and not once has he seen any board games in any day room. So either they are being bought and then stockpiled somewhere (Europe has wine lakes, TDCJ has board game mountains?), or they are not being bought and that money is going on something else. I think everyone in TX deserves to know which it is.

O/T, giving all inmates the ability to earn good time that is then used to parole them earlier instead of current practice which I believe is to take it off the end of their parole time instead, would be a good tool for behaviour modification. It appears to work in a lot of other states.

BossHoss said...

Well i am an officer at a 2250 unit and i have seen many board games. the Crooks half to ask for them and we keep there id till they done playing. Rec is questionable but that has to do with staffing, if people dont show up we cant let the crooks out running free.

Helga Dill said...

I am glad you are participating on this blog, the only thing I regret is that you are "EX". We could use someone like you to replace Mr. Livingston for instance as you seem to know the ins and outs of this corrupt system. All of you readers , please watch the program "Lock-up" on MSNBC Friday nights at 8 PM.
If and when you do , please watch what is in their cells , big ole TVs lots of shelf space etc. Here is one I know I will get dissed on, in Indiana State the death row prisoners are allowed to have a cat in their cell, which is quite spacious. Oh my gosh! Can you imagine the citizens of Texas getting wind of such luxury?
The recreation consists of among other things card playing, which is considered gambling , how awful !
By the way, you can gamble with dominoes and various other things.
I am still waiting for TDCJ to let the MSNBC crew film some of their Gulags. But I will probably go to an assisted living home before that happens. Once again I want to thank TDCJEX for his comments as well as Sunray's wench who is usually right on as well.
I sort of have gotten away from the anonymous signature and am curious if I get my fingers slapped.
One more thing, we all know TDCJ hates litigating inmates and sabotages jailhouse lawyers etc. As member of the Access to Courts Prisoner workshop I can tell you we are desperately trying to get law students who are ready and able to go to some of these units to assist with legal matters. TDCJ is dragging their feet like an old lame duck, wonder why ?
That was a dumb question, huh?

Helga Dill, Chair, TX CURE

sunray's wench said...

@ BossHoss ~ that'll be one of the medium-sized units then. Good to see a Boss posting here, keeps things balanced.

One thing, if inmates are supposed to have their ID on them at all times, why do they have to surrender their ID to you in order to get access to a board game?

TDCJEX said...

Helga, I am ex convict I chose the name as sort of a counter point to a more “notorious EX” who has a website that preys on vulnerable people who are desperate for help in a unfair and brutal system . Your work is greatly appreciated by the men and women incarcerated in TDCJ

My gal is currently in the system and has been looking for help with her case but we simply do not have a few million . Hell I could not afford to walk in most appellate attorneys doors and talk about her case .Some days I feel as if it is hopeless . That people will make repulsive comets and find it a source off enjoyment is sickening

I don't know if I could be paid enough to do Livingston s job . Though after doing time in TDCJ I do know it very very well . Unfortunately I am the last person they will listen to .

Sunray I would guess it went somewhere else. That is a old accounting trick in the US . Or worse tme same company that would provide the board games got the money band the games are elsewhere. But I know that board games are considered contraband . I tend to doubt there are store rooms with board game in them . Hell I saw a man catch a case for having draw a unmistakeable spoof of a 1million dollar bill (there is no such thing) . He got a major case for possessing gambling materiel and was put in solitary for 15 days ,on all kinds of restrictions for 30 days dropped line moved to a different building not as punishment but because he was reclassified ! .It was a joke from a conversation where another prisoner was saying damn if I had a few million dollars I could get a lawyer to look into all the BS the SOB prosecutor did . His “accomplice was given a much lesser sentence Oh BTW he was out of Smith County where a few prosecutors were / are known to cut deals wot out putting them in writing ten after he gets his conviction he signs off on the deal . So he legally can say he did not offer a deal in exchange for fabricated testimony ,Do they really have wine for prisons in Europe or at least claim to ? Maybe the wine is for other things

Too bad we cant shift some of that money to a fund to help prisoners appeal their false convictions . Why should a family or friend member taxed or asked to give to a victim who they do not have anything do with . I question the legality of some of the so called victims rights groups as they currently operate .Some appear to be both a arm of the prosecution ,political lobby group and as a after though help some victims or survivors in the case of homicide as long as they go along with the prosecution . A debate for another day though. Restitution and other sanctions is a good idea instead of incarceration .

Sunray I take most of what guards say as self serving exaggerations and half truths if not out right lies Very few are willing to admit to the abuses that go on . I wont sever say that prisoners are saints but in all honesty the real dangerous prisoners are a small number who make every ones lives hell.

boss hoss I doubt you are a boss . Which unit do you work on. Now if your talking about a private or federal prison maybe they can have board games . I know TDCJ considers them contraband - gambling material . Why not give us your name and unit . Your attitude that is part of the problem in TDCJ. Laws like you who show a lot of disdain for prisoners if you do not like your job quit no one is forcing you to stay . Yes not enough staff is a frequent excuse laws give to deny rec .

Sunray good catch . They do not give the law an ID they show it to them and the law writes down the info if they get things or go some where . But No they do not get board games . I never saw one in prison . I can see how they are used to gamble with . Interesting I cant find a unit that has 2250 prisoners

TDCJ should be honest about this . Maybe they have something to hide ?

Anonymous said...

Two types of units were built during the massive prison expansion: The 2250 bed unit was considered a maximum security unit and the 1000 bed unit was considered a minimum (some called them medium) security unit. Both types were security "nightmares".
In later years dedicated Ad Seg beds, in a separate,new built, building, were added to some 2250 and 1000 bed units.

In-cell TV's would cost the inmate family even more than the commissary. Why add more cost to them?

Retired 2004

sunray's wench said...

Retired 2004 ~ some other states (eg Washington) charges all inmates a small flat fee per week/month for cable and in-cell tv, regardless of whether an inmate watches it or not. With all the inmates that TX has (twice as many as Washington at least) the cost spread that way would be manageable.

Mind you, they also pay their inmates for the work they have to do.