Monday, September 12, 2011

Fewer GEDs, prison industry jobs thanks to TDCJ budget cuts

From our friends over at Grits for Breakfast Blog:

Coupla news items caught my eye related to budget cuts at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. First, reports Mike Ward at the Austin Statesman, six prison industry factories including a soap factory formerly at the Central Unit in Sugar Land have been closed because of budget cutbacks. Wrote Ward:

The closures are part of a national trend, officials say, as government agencies that run prison industry programs experience budget cuts and government agencies that buy prison-made goods scale back their purchases, also to cope with tighter state budgets.

"The question is how do you keep convicts busy if the plant closes," said Tony Fabelo, an Austin-based criminal justice statistician who tracks criminal justice trends.

"This has implications for prison management, beyond just the closing of a plant here and there."

In Texas, prison officials have always prided themselves on the state's robust prison-industry program. It is among the nation's largest, where convicts make everything ranging from furniture, highway signs and soap to garments, license plates and shoes at 41 plants. But now some officials worry that increasing numbers of idled convicts could lead to new disciplinary and security problems inside Texas' sprawling system of 111 state prisons.
The other closures:
In Beaumont, a metal products plant at the Stiles Unit was shuttered earlier this year and its operations were consolidated with similar plants at the Coffield Unit near Tennessee Colony and the Powledge Unit near Palestine.

A garment plant at the Jester 3 Unit in Richmond was consolidated with a plant at the Eastham Unit north of Huntsville. A shoe plant closed at the Jordan Unit near Pampa had its lines moved to a plant at the Clements Unit in Amarillo that makes blankets.

A wood and furniture plant at the Ellis Unit outside Huntsville was moved to the Lewis Unit in Woodville. And a plant that manufactures stainless-steel fixtures at the Boyd Unit in Teague has been closed and consolidated with a metal plant at the Luther Unit outside Navasota.
Meanwhile, the Huntsville Item has a story on recent budget cuts at TDCJ's Windham School District which informs us that:
As of Thursday, Windham had to eliminate 271 full-time employees, including 157 teachers in addition to adminstrative and support staff. WSD also enforced salary reductions across the board in order to reduce its budget by $17.8 million, or 27 percent, per year of the biennium.

It was another tough blow to the residents of Huntsville and the surounding communities. Another 40 jobs were lost in the area after the Texas Department of Criminal Justice went through a round of layoffs a few months ago.

Windham had to cut jobs at the Eastham, Ellis, Estelle, Goree, Huntsville and Wynne units as the agency’s budgeted figures for 2012 under the regular programs were substantially lower than the estimated expenses for the fiscal year 2011, which led to a reduction in funding. ...
As a result of the teaching cuts, Windham, which provides academic, career and technology training for offenders to help combat recidivism, has also had to eliminate and reduce educational programs, including General Educational Development (GED). Each teaching position was determined to serve 107 students per year, meaning more than 16,700 offenders will be left out of the classrooms in 2012.

GED classes are no longer being offered at the Glossbrenner, Halbert, Havins, Johnston, LeBlance and Sayle substance abuse facilities and at the Duncan Unit. The Central Unit in Sugar Land was recently closed down completely.

“Despite substantial budget reductions, WSD remains committed to providing the best possible programming with allocated funding,” Kiser said.

The GED, as well as other programs, were signifigantly reduced at 19 other units, including Eastham, Goree, Ellis, Byrd and Huntsville. According to WSD’s annual performance report for 2009-10, approximately 77,500 inmates received educational services and 12,464 of the offenders released in 2010 attained a GED and took college classes while incarerated in TDCJ.

Offenders at the units that no longer offer GED courses have limited options as to continuing their education.

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  1. Working up in Austin this last session it is no surprise that Windham took a beating. There was no one representing them, unlike the correctional officers and other TDCJ employees.. Windham and UTMB employeees were discouraged from becoming politically active. Next time an administrator does not want you involved in organizations or politics, look at what that got Windham employees. The good ole boy system were your boss takes care of you is long gone.

  2. The State of Texas because of the TDCJ. Texas is a joke in the USA. The Gov. Perry has in place peole who shold be forced to endure two weeks in one of their prisons. To deny inmates who do not have a GED a chance to better themselves is a disgrace. No other state in the USA is so backward. Texas is a backward state that do not want to come into the 21st century. I truly feel sorry for all the residents of that state, because they are being laughed about, behind their backs.

  3. Maybe they should have bettered themselves before they got locked up. Guess they were too busy committing their crimes. If you live in TX, no ones forcing you to. Move to where you would be more comfortable.

  4. Methods needs to be taken up have got as little nonproductive moment in between employment opportunities as possible, and possessing enough agreements slowly going throughout the app and creation process helps to avoid those gaps.