By Tonya Peters, Backgate Website
TDCJ forwarded us a statement via email this morning regarding the issues we
brought forth on security and classification practices at state jails. There
are no perimeter pickets for security at state jails, and most are in close
proximity to highly populated areas. The question was raised that offenders
sentenced to life sentences, child molesters, and violent others that fall outside
of the two year sentencing requirements for assignment to state jails are being
housed at them due to lack of bed space at other facilities. There are
stipulations to assigning offenders to a state jail, and we believe TDCJ is
overstepping it's bounds and endangering the general public by hiding offenders
in state jails that are not supposed to be there for periods in excess of that
allowed by law.
Those Officers assigned to state jails know that TDCJ in fact house offenders
that do not fit the criteria of the statute posted below. We have asked TDCJ
to provide facts as to how many mis-classified offenders, or offenders housed
outside of the required criteria are actually housed in state jail facilities
in Texas. We are awaiting an answer. State Senator John Whitmire, and state
representative Jerry Madden, both on State Criminal Justice Committees, have
received information from the Backgate and we expect a reply from them soon as
well. If you are an employee of a state jail and have knowledge of these
practices we want to hear from you, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You
will remain anonymous.
Sec. 507.006. USE OF FACILITY FOR OTHER INMATES. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subchapter, the state jail division, with the approval of the board, may designate one or more state jail felony facilities or discrete areas within one or more state jail felony facilities to treat inmates who are eligible for confinement in a substance abuse felony punishment facility under Section 493.009 or to house inmates who are eligible for confinement in a transfer facility under Section 499.152, but only if the designation does not deny placement in a state jail felony facility of defendants required to serve terms of confinement in a facility following conviction of state jail felonies. The division may not house in a state jail felony facility an inmate who: (1) has a history of or has shown a pattern of violent or assaultive behavior in county jail or a facility operated by the department; or (2) will increase the likelihood of harm to the public if housed in the facility. (b) Sections 499.154 and 499.155 apply to an inmate eligible for confinement in a transfer facility under Section 499.152 who is nonetheless confined in a state jail felony facility in the same manner as if the inmate were confined in a transfer facility. (c) The responsibility of the department to provide substance abuse felony punishment facilities is governed by the General Appropriations Act and Section 493.009. This section does not affect the responsibility of the department to provide substance abuse felony punishment facilities. Sec. 499.152. ELIGIBLE INMATES. The institutional division may confine an inmate in a transfer facility authorized by this subchapter: (1) only if paperwork and processing required under Section 8(a), Article 42.09, Code of Criminal Procedure, for transfer of the inmate to the division has been completed; and (2) only during a period in which the inmate would otherwise be confined in a county jail awaiting transfer to the division following conviction of a felony or revocation of probation, parole, or release on mandatory supervision.