Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Mandatory overtime continues, staff made to drive sub-par state vehicles down south to fill gaps.
By Michael Williams, Backgate Website
Region III, along with many other regions are continuing to mandate staff members to make the journey from their assigned units to the Beeville area at least once per week to fill staffing gaps in that area. The trips are done in groups set up by unit, and a state issued van is used to transport several Officers at a time down south.
That drive can last three hours one way. The staff are worked on the McConnell unit in Beeville for approximately eight hours and then are relieved to make the dangerous trip back to the Rosharon area.
This day lasts from 12-14 hours. Recently a group of Officers assigned to the Darrington unit in Region III had a mishap on their way back to the Rosharon area when the state issued van they were traveling in broke down near El Campo off of Highway 59 at approximately 8pm. The Officers aboard immediately reported the incident to their supervisor on the Darrington unit and a TDCJ wrecker was dispatched from the Sugarland area to retrieve the van while the staff members stood outside waiting. The wrecker arrived approximately two hours later. Thing is, the wrecker does not transport staff. So the wrecker retrieved the van and left the staff out on the road to fend for themselves in the middle of the night, in uniform that generally represents a target for ex-offenders and such.
A supervisor at Darrington was charged with getting the staff back but the units van was on a transport to the Jester 4 unit. Those staff members could not be reached for a re-direct to El Campo after dropping the inmate off. So when the van finally arrived back on Darrington, the van was sent to get them. Needless to say the staff members were stranded there for 3 hours. They returned to the Darrington unit at approximately 1am. The issue is that these Officers are mandated to make the trip in TDCJ's well known, Offender maintained transport vans, working long hours, and then being on the road driving back at all hours of the night. As dangerous as it all is, to compound the issues, the mode of transportation is sub-par. At what point does this all become a safety issue for the staff ? And does the agency care about their welfare or just that the staffing needs are met down south ? The hope is that it won't take a serious accident, or some other disaster to change the way the operation is run.
What are your thoughts ?