Friday, March 8, 2013
TDCJ back tracks, grants Backgate requested information on staffing/overtime usage
A few weeks back the Backgate Website requested public information on just how many hours of overtime TDCJ employees are being forced to work in the face of severe staffing shortages. Initially the agency forwarded our request to the Texas Attorney Generals office for review on whether it was releasable or not and refused to release it to us at that time.
We contacted the Attorney Generals Office and filed a complaint stating that the TDCJ was purposely withholding public information from us based on previous stories we published that drew widespread public and media attention.
Several days later we received the requested information. The information proves that the agency is spending millions of tax payer dollars for overtime expenditures all over the state.The below numbers are overtime hours worked, both voluntary and mandatory, by TDCJ employees on the specified units.
The Top 5 TDCJ units with staffing issues, and hours worked in overtime for
the month of January 2013 on all 5 units:
Daniel Unit - 5,773
McConnell Unit - 7,999
Smith Unit - 10,379
Wallace Unit - 4,845
Ware Unit - 2,763
As indicated, the most hours worked were logged at the Smith unit in Lamesa. That unit of course was the topic of one employees claim that the state was placing employees there in dangerous circumstances based on limited staffing there. That story was broadcasted during a Lubbock TV news report last month with a Smith unit employee "blacked out" in disguise as a whistle blower explaining those issues. We published the staff members story, and have been in touch with Legislators regarding those issues.
The employee came under fire after the story aired and was identified by the Smith unit administration. She was then allegedly harassed and retaliated against for participating in that interview. That employee reached out to us and we got in touch with State Senator John Whitmire's office who investigated that claim. At that point the employee told us the harassment stopped. See our continuing stories on these issues...