|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 !