Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Region IV understaffing becoming expensive, dangerous.

By Doug Glass, Backgate Website

For the first time in six months, staffing levels in Region IV have bottomed out to the point that Officer safety may become a bigger issue then first thought. TDCJ reports that back in August of 2011 that Region IV was down 551 Correctional Officers. As of January 2012, that number has ballooned to 710 and rising. TDCJ also reported that in August of 2011 that the state paid $604,000 that month for overtime just in Region IV. In January 2012, that number jumped to $992,504 for the month. That number is also expected to rise above the $1,000,000 mark within the next 60 days an insider reported. There have already been two consecutive months within the Region that the monthly expenditures for overtime have surpassed the million dollar mark according to state records.

The Backgate received word that employees were being forced to work at least one of their regular days off each week in mandatory overtime. Today TDCJ acknowledged that that was a true statement, but it only affected the Connally and McConnell units. The release also went on to say that voluntary overtime was still at the forefront. TDCJ did not comment on accusations by employees that Officer safety was being placed on the back burner as units dangerously short of staff were still operating at 100% even though no one was there to run them. The numbers of vacancies in the Region, as in all Regions, do not account for employees calling in sick, or out on extended sick leave status. The numbers of staff actually reporting for work are even less then represented by the open vacancies. Staff reports claim that Category one positions, those positions where someone must always be there to man it as per agency policy, are going unfilled as staffing is spread thin to carry out daily tasks. TDCJ could neither confirm or deny those accusations.

The Connally unit in Kenedy holds 2,848 offenders from G1-G5 status. G5 being high security. Connally unit staffing plans call for 557 Correctional Officers.  The McConnell unit in Beeville holds 2,900 offenders and their staffing plan calls for 564 Correctional Officers. McConnell also houses G1-G5 status offenders in addition to an Administrative Segregation area. No unit based staffing numbers were included in the report from TDCJ but those two units are said to be bearing the brunt of the Regions under staffing issues. When questioned as to why staffing levels may be so low in the Region IV area, Officials stated that oilfield jobs were on the rise along with other manufacturing in the area and that TDCJ was in direct competition with those industries.

4 comments:

  1. Sounds like the usual TDCJ-ID administrative white wash.

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  2. Doug, you might want to get the stats on how often offenders are fed in cell. Staffing is always the first topic of discussion in turnout. We pretty much know what we are going to do once the Administration is informed on the shift numbers.

    If everyone got on board and volunteered to work 2 days of their 4 days off, that's still not too bad. 4 on 4 off, means we work about half the year. We have other units helping out which allows us on most days to accomplish the agencies mission.

    I don't feel that I've been ask to accomplish any task unsafely. Offenders can't stay in the cell 24/7. Staff and offender assaults would surely rise. I'm just saying

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    1. I think we are asked to to do our tasks unsafely at our unit...asking one person to do what requires 2 people, shutting down category 1 positions, and most of the people that come from other units claim to not know how to do the job because they come from hug-a-thug units.so they make the bucks, but don't do the job

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  3. As former CO at the Conally Unit, I was blown away by the fact that not only did the rank not have your back, they looked for a chance to beat you down. Mandatory 14 hour days, too understaffed to take lunch breaks, pencil whipping paperwork (no time to actually do what you've signed off on,if anything goes wrong the CO fries). Add to that low pay, poor working conditions, management only manages to cover their butts, except the good ones and they don't last long. Conally was understaffed prior to the oil fields that excuse is pathetic. Kind of reminds me of the drug adds on TV, possible blood clots, heart failure, coma, and death. Gotta get me some of that, where do I sign up? Understaffed, go figure! The adminstration from the top down needs to look at themselves, quit making excuses, and do their job.

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