Monday, March 26, 2012

Gangland Texas Terror - Aryan Brotherhood in Texas Prisons

With Retired TDCJ Darrington Warden Terry Pelz and Ex-TDCJ Gang Guru Maryanne Denner. Id the ABT still a formidable force behind the walls of Texas prisons?

Current Training May Leave New Officers More Vulnerable

By Tracy E. Barnhart, Backgate Contributing Author

Below are but a few of the findings that will be included in an assessment of training in the U.S. and the United Kingdom that has been conducted across the last 3 years by the Force Science Institute. Wherever they are based, if officers are unprepared to meet the various threats and levels of resistance and violence they face, it can impair their ability to make good judgments, to affect control, and to avoid injury or death to himself or herself. This fact in itself leads to the excessively high turnover rates among correctional agencies. Therefore, if I were to give some advice to a new officer what would be some things that I would want to know that would give me a better chance of success.
  • The average officer within months of leaving an academy will be able only to describe how a given suspect-control technique should be used but will have “little ability” to actually apply it effectively in “a dynamic encounter with a defiantly resistant subject.”
  • At the rate academy and in-service training is typically delivered, it could take the average Corrections Officer up to 45 years to receive the number of hours of training and practice in command-and-control and officer-safety techniques that a young student athlete gets through practice and education in competitive sporting events during the usual high school career.
  • Many Correctional training programs are not employing modern research-based methods of successfully teaching psychomotor skills, a shortcoming compounded by the fact that current record-keeping fails to capture even the most elementary relevant information about the dynamic nature of real-world assaults on officers.
“I would say, Jump on this website and start reading and educating yourself!”

Take into consideration the amount of practice that you do involving your agency response to resistance techniques. If your agency is like mine, that would be about eight hours per year during recertification, at slow speeds, with your partner acting a specific way. That would be like asking a martial arts instructor to give you a black belt worth of knowledge but he could only train you eight hours per year. Most instructors that I know would laugh at you and walk away. However, your administration, community and court systems expect that level of expertise from you as it relates to your use of force incidents. You are expected to win, not get hurt, and not hurt the inmate. Not one of us would bet $5 on a football game in which we knew that the quarterback only had practiced with the ball only one time in the past year.

Remember those terms in previous articles, Reasonable, Excessive and liability? Are you confident in your ability to be reasonable? How about your ability restraining an inmate while you are being video taped and not being excessive? Will you use the techniques properly and as instructed or will you write in your reports that you Attempted the proper agency technique only to have to abandon the maneuver during the restraint and do something else that actually works?

Training shortcomings that threaten survival

Any departmental self-defense techniques need to have a two-pronged approach;
  1. Having techniques that allow an officer to enact the strategy of advancing from one position into a more dominating one {positional moves.}
  2. Those techniques that allow an officer to finish a fight quickly and efficiently {submission moves.}
We run into problem with administrations attempting to water down martial arts techniques in order to alleviate the pain aspect of their maneuvers. All techniques are by their nature Pain Compliance or Submission Techniques. If you take away the motivation of pain to establish voluntary compliance, then there will be no compliance with your commands in the mind of a defiant criminal. They must be shown, better yet feel, that if they voluntarily comply, the pain will stop, thereby giving them the motivation to obey your commands.

Officers and supervisors need to evaluate handling of real-life events with a critical eye. Do we have the skills and fortitude to recognize mistakes have been made and take corrective actions?

Consider the Navy Blue Angels flight team. At the end of every flight, there is a debriefing in which rank is taken off the table and every member can feel safe to do self-criticism or constructive criticism of another team member. Corrections need to adopt this same mentality where pre- and post-performance is evaluated with a critical eye, with the focus on improvement rather than castigation or discipline. The answers to these questions should be addressed:
  1. Is our self-protection techniques based in reality, work when used, and easy to apply?
  2. Do we need more training?
  3. How could we have prevented or avoided the violent incident from happening?
Look out among the predators of the institution. Watch them as they do countless push-ups and train themselves into physical combatants in which you might someday have to physically restrain. Are you ready? Do you have the stamina to withstand an onslaught of punches in an all out assault until your back up arrives? It is one thing to look back ten years ago when you were in great shape and in a martial arts class three times a week. Look at yourself now. Are you as ready now, as you were then? One thing you have to consider when working in a prison setting. You are getting older everyday yet the average age of the inmates are staying steady at a young average. Inmates come in and get out and new young aggressive inmates fill their open beds. You however, get older, more and more out of shape everyday. This is why we must keep ourselves in shape and condition our bodies for combat. We walk among the predators of society without question. Our abilities must reflect our authority to tame these aggressive predators without question.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Departing Texas state workers collecting tens of millions annually as they cash out vacation time; other states look to curb practice

By Mark Lisheron

The next time you are in line at the Texas Department of Public Safety, having ordered out for pizza while moving on to the second of the Lord of the Rings trilogy on your iPhone, summon just a little empathy for the folks who are, if you are lucky, less than three hours from waiting on you.

Five hundred and six million dollars says at least some of these overworked and underloved state employees will at retirement be collecting a fat check for vacation time they were somehow not able to use, according to a story today by the Texas Tribune.

Click here for entire story!

Should TDCJ work towards closing units located in areas were staffing is an ongoing issue?

 Should TDCJ and the Legislature work towards closing units located in those hard to staff areas of the state ?  Should new facilities be built closer to large metropolitan areas to help in recruiting ? Lets hear from you. Post your comments below, and remember to keep them professional.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

TDCJ maintains zero tolerance policy for discrimination, sexual harassment

Backgate Says: How amusing is this ? Does ANY employee with more then 6 months believe this at all ? Should read " Call if you want to, we got something in return for your behind. We don't get mad, we get even."
From TDCJ;

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice remains committed to equal employment opportunity (EEO) and enforcement of the agency's zero tolerance policy against all forms of employment discrimination, including sexual harassment. This zero tolerance policy is designed to prevent the creation of a hostile work environment, where offensive speech or conduct based on gender, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability or genetic information is sufficiently severe or pervasive as to alter the complainant's employment conditions and create an abusive working environment.

Employees are encouraged to promptly report alleged violations of EEO policy to their immediate supervisor, department director or warden. If the allegations are against the employee's supervisor or in the employee's chain of supervision, reports can be filed with the employee's second level supervisor or higher authority, including the agency's executive director. Alleged violations can also be reported to the Human Resources Division's Employee Relations Intake Section at 936-437-4240, the Civil Rights Division of the Texas Workforce Commission at 888-452-4778, or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at 800-669-4000.

Complaints filed with the Human Resources Division are investigated by an Internal EEO Section, which is separate from the EEOC. Employees may also contact the Office of the Inspector General at 512-671-2480 to report alleged criminal violations of the agency's harassment policy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Officers from all over Texas boosting numbers in Region IV

Connally Unit in Kenedy, Region IV
By Tonya Peters, Backgate Website

The Backgate covered a story of desperation coming out of Region IV a few weeks ago. It exposed possible short cuts and a potential safety issue for assigned staff of at least two Region IV units. The Connally and McConnell units in Region IV are seriously understaffed, and assigned Officers raised a red flag. You can read the related stories below this one. In recent developments, TDCJ has now asked other regions within the state to send staff down to Region IV to staff those two facilities on a daily rotational basis. A unit in Region I may send a van containing 7-8 Officers down to work a shift at the Connally or McConnell units to help improve staffing. Another unit in Region III may send 7-8 more to help out. Is this an effort to use a single finger to plug a much larger hole in the dike ?

TDCJ, and state Legislators need to eye alternatives to staffing these facilities long term. More monetary incentives, the addition of housing and other living facilities for staff ? These are a couple of ideas that have been mulled about. Either way, these responding staff members from all over Texas will eventually get tired of the hundreds of miles driven to bolster the Region IV numbers. The Backgate is in contact with some of the state's key criminal justice Legislators and will provide additional information as it is available.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Is there any such thing as a "Trusty" Offender within the TDCJ

New Incoming TDCJ Offenders

By Tonya Peters, Backgate Website 

Are trusty camp operations on units really worth the trouble they bring the agency and the threat to the safety of the general public ? Trusty assigned offenders making late night trips to Walmart for tobacco, running under the cover of night to major highways to pick up a cache of drugs, tobacco cell phones and lord knows what else. How long will it be before a trusty gets his hands on a pistol and introduces it onto the facility ? Do the positives outweigh the risks to the general public and TDCJ employees ?

TDCJ relies heavily on trusty offenders to operate the tractors that plow and harvest millions of acres of TDCJ farmland all over the state. To raise and maintain cattle, pigs and chickens for sale to the public sector, and for internal usage. That being said, is money the determining factor in keeping these offenders outside of the main facilities without any type of fencing or enclosure to keep them in ? With much younger and violent offenders coming into the prison system, are the bad apples being excluded from being assigned such a free and open environment ? TDCJ Wardens have asked those same questions and have also been muted by the Huntsville headquarters. Should we at least fence them in as so we know where they are after dark ? Well TDCJ seems to think that the cost of fencing (which TDCJ produces itself) is to expensive to use to enclose these trusty camps. For those not on the inside, each TDCJ trusty camp compuund is made up of three metal fab buildings that house up to 107 offenders each, a dayroom with TV's, and an offender dining hall for meals. There is no fencing, no guard towers, or any other deterrent to keeping trusty camp assigned offenders in the compound.

 Many trusty camp compounds are located dangerously close to state highways, city neighborhoods, and in at least one case at the former Central prison unit in Sugarland, a Walmart Supercenter. TDCJ reports just some of the more high profile contraband items found on trusty camps as being; MP3 players, CD players, K2, marijuana, prescription pain killers, store bought bourbon, Nintendo DS, cartons of cigarettes, rolls of chewing tobacco, pornographic magazines, touch screen cell phones with full internet service, Burger King and McDonalds food, etc... the list goes on and on.. Staff members are frequently assaulted as the search offenders and locate prohibited items. Is it really worth it ? We will be looking at TDCJ trusty camp facilities, and the policies that pertain to them in the next few weeks. We may even have a Legislator or two chime in with their thoughts on some of these issues. As always. if you have input, we want to hear it !