Saturday, March 2, 2013
Smith Unit whistleblower may be off the hook, for now.
In a recent turn of events regarding the TDCJ Smith Unit Officer that came forward and spoke to a Lubbock TV station last month about staffing and safety issues at the prison, now may be spared from certain disciplinary action. The Officer who was shown blacked out and anonymous in the televised interview was identified by the administration and since retaliated against and harassed and received what could be construed as a "bogus" or concocted employee disciplinary charge. The Officer contacted us and we investigated her claims last week.
We in turn contacted Legislators who were brought up to speed on the incident, and in turn contacted TDCJ for their take on the accusations. The Backgate received a statement from Senator John Whitmire's office stating that there was no pending disciplinary action against that Officer. But as we all know, the threat of agency retribution is always present when anyone speaks out against the agency in any way. We will keep an eye on the situation and report as necessary.
The interview was conducted with the employee who outlined issues with severe under staffing, and how those shortages posed the possibility of endangering staff and the offender population as a whole. TDCJ has once again found itself in a staffing dilemma and is now inching once again towards the 3,000 Officer shortage mark it once held some years back. Employees statewide have been mandated to give up days off, and work overtime at a moments notice just to staff required positions. Those staffing shortages have put employees statewide at a much higher risk of being injured or killed in serious assault situations as less staff are being used to do the same job once assigned to more staff. Some of these areas to include Administrative Segregation and close custody areas.
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