Thursday, October 17, 2013

Another former agency Public Information Officer found it a hard row to hoe while employed with the TDCJ

By Duane Stuart, Backgate Website

With the Michelle Lyons (EX-TDCJ PIO) lawsuit still making it's rounds through the federal courts,and fresh on our minds, we decided to delve a bit deeper into the ins and outs of that position. Following the ousting of Michelle Lyons, the TDCJ appointed Mr. John Hurt to lead the agencies media relations outfit.

Hurt, who carries a resume listing 30 years of experience in media from working in media news rooms, to being the media face of the Texas Dept. of Transportation for 20 years, took his turn at the position and was gone before the ink was dry on his application.

After the allegations of discrimination, retaliation, and harassment brought forth by Lyons, we were curious as to why Mr. Hurt didn't stick around long following her departure. We caught up with Mr. Hurt and asked him why he chose to leave the agency so quickly, and what may have caused him, after all of his years of experience, to do so.

" My last interview was with Time magazine about the expiring execution drugs. When they found out, they positively came unglued that I did what I was getting paid for. They even admitted the interview read well, they just didn't want the issue in the media. They just wanted to keep issues like the CO shortage and the outdated execution drugs as far out of the media as possible. "  Mr. Hurt went on to explain " The admin suffers from intellectual incest. They all live in a little town, went to the same little college in Huntsville and are terrified of new ideas." Mr. Hurt then offered his ideas on how to change the face of the public information office and the agency in general.  "Moving the agency to Austin would be in everyone's best interest." " I tried to show them how to position themselves in a positive light and they didn't want any part of it. I've never worked in a stranger place."

All of which goes with what we have been saying here on this website since 1998. The agency has always presented themselves as a media disaster. The general lack of transparency, and the unwillingness to be truthful with the media and the general public has led to the gradual decline in  the reputation of the agency as a whole. Instead they insist on limiting information, dodging requests, and even offering blatant lies in place of the truth. Any reputable public company with such a position would surely be bankrupt and shuttered within 6 months if they offered the same disservice to the public. It may just be time for the largest public agency in the state to step up and change their image before it's to late. And if the current installed board of criminal justice, or TDCJ administration are unable to initiate that change maybe its time for Senate Committee intervention. I mean, surely the taxpayers who fund the agency, deserve the truth from the agency. Right? Mr. Hurt was the man that could have theoretically brought the agency into the 21st century and out of the dark ages. But as with most great TDCJ employees, they tend to migrate elsewhere to towards the path of least resistance. More to come.


  1. From the Desk of BoBoTheBeaten:

    It's clear from Brad's $74,000 a year pay raise that the Criminal Justice Board and legislature approves of everything he's doing. Don't expect any changes to anything anytime soon.

  2. From the Desk of BoBoTheBeaten:

    I propose that the job description for PIO be updated to include - must have the ability to lie with a straight face and if you are caught telling a lie you must have the ability to continue telling the lie.

  3. I used almost the exact same phrase in my book, Correctional Cowboy. TDCJ has an incestuous relationship with certain people when it comes to promoting or getting certain jobs in the agency. Everyone knows each others dad and takes care of their own interest. All from the same town, all went to the same college, same ideas, same thoughts. New ideas and new ways are absolutely forbidden.

    Ryan Campbell, Writer-Correctional Cowboy

    1. Is there a hard copy of your book, Correctional Cowboy? I sure am interested in reading it!

  4. I'm sorry, there is not. Just the Ebook version, which you can download onto any IPad/IPhone, Kindle or Laptop.
    Thank you.