Friday, June 28, 2013
TDCJ's refusal to answer open records request from Backgate on staffing issues may have opened a legal can of worms
Two months ago the Backgate Website forwarded a request for staffing numbers to the TDCJ open records office. The request asked for simple numbers on current unit staffing numbers, overtime usage numbers, and vacancy information. TDCJ denied that basic request and forwarded it to the Attorney Generals Office for an opinion on the legality of it's release. Over the years we have often requested the same basic information through official means and been granted full access to those numbers. This time the TDCJ claimed that the information, if released, put staff in danger on Texas prison units where under staffing was an issue in that if the offenders or outsiders saw the real stats that it could create safety concerns.
The AG's office bought into the diversion and denied the request as well. So why was TDCJ hiding staffing information all of a sudden? What had changed from all the other times the same information was requested, and granted with no issue? Are staffing issues so bad now that basic information on the numbers are now made secret to the general public and agency employees ? Or maybe it's the millions being spent on overtime, most of which being forced upon employees. Either way the actions of the state have made several attorneys and legal analysts out there sort of curious to say the least.
TDCJ has long since made available only what they feel the public need to know, now whats covered under Texas law. The Backgate has been at the forefront of exposing the corruption of the few that walk among some of the most professional correctional professionals on the planet, and has learned how the open records policy works first hand. As i have always said, it's when a government agency tries to cover up truth, hush whistle blowers, and operate in the shadows when they ignite public interest and appear to be corrupt. Open the doors and show the employees, tax payers, and Legislators whats behind the curtain to alleviate all question. More to come...